Originally written on 5thRound.com  |  Last updated 11/20/14

The last time fans saw Diego Sanchez (Pictured) in action, he left the Octagon looking like this. Following an 11-month hiatus courtesy of a broken hand, the 30-year-old returns with a more mature perspective on the mixed martial arts fight game.

It’s no longer about intimidation, but preparation for the battle he’s set to embark on.

“I used to get involved in mind games, the fight before the fight, the mental and psychological aspects of the head games,” Sanchez admitted during this week’s media workouts. “When I was younger I used to think that was part of it. If you could beat a fighter before you even got into the ring then that was part of it. But now I’ve realized that once they lock the door it’s just two guys, two men.

“The decisions that they made in their training camp, the decisions that they made with their life, that’s all that matters and what’s in their hearts.”

It seems like eons ago when Sanchez burst onto the UFC scene by winning the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” During his seven years in the big leagues, he’s fought for the lightweight title, created the infamous ‘YES! Cartwheel,’ but more importantly, discovered an inner peace that’s allowed him to finally feel comfortable in his own skin.

Although “The Dream” has been riding the pine for nearly a year, and has posted only a 2-1 record since returning to the welterweight class, he believes a win tonight over Jake Ellenberger catapults him towards the top of the division’s totem pole. While the chat rooms aren’t currently buzzing about Sanchez, he understands a devastating finish can quickly change things.

“The fact that people aren’t talking about me for a title shot doesn’t bother me. It’s alright. Ellenberger has five wins in the UFC and some impressive ones. It all gets factored in. I have two ‘Fight of the Nights’ but, for me, to get that title shot I’m really going to have to earn it.

“So I’m going to have to go in there and beat the guy who everyone says is going to get the title shot. I have to go in and beat him and I have to beat him convincingly.”

Sanchez meets Ellenberger Wednesday inside CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska. FUEL TV broadcasts the main card live beginning at 8PM ET/5PM PT.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Ray Rice wins appeal, can sign with any team

Ohio governor decrees playoff committee honorary Ohioans

Lance Stephenson becoming a problem with the Hornets?

Tony Romo: I promise I'll be better next week

Seahawks could wait to address Russell Wilson's contract

Report: SMU football to hire Clemson offensive coordinator

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Dez Bryant: Eagles were ‘kinda cheap’

Hockey goalie rushes into stands to perform CPR on fan

49ers CEO Jed York apologizes for unacceptable performance

Family searching for missing Ohio State football player

CM Punk opens up about leaving WWE, says he'll never return

Manny Pacquiao responds to Floyd Mayweather diss

What if the Chargers refused to trade Eli Manning?

Why is there a red seat hanging in the Mall of America?

WATCH: Mickey Rourke TKO’d a man half his age in Moscow

What's next for the 49ers?

The most tone-deaf tweet ever?

Five bold predictions for Week 13 in the NFL

Brady Quinn pens 'note' to Jets quarterback Geno Smith

Bills center Eric Wood gained 7.4 pounds at Thanksgiving

Cubs reliever somehow OK after being involved in awful accident

Seahawks players throw shade at 49ers after victory

Five takeaways from NFL's Thanksgiving Day action

Things to be thankful for in the NBA this season

MMA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

What if the Chargers didn't trade Eli?

Dez Bryant: Eagles were ‘kinda cheap’

Ray Rice wins appeal, can sign with any team

What's next for the 49ers?

The most tone-deaf tweet ever?

Is Lance a problem for the Hornets?

5 NFL takeaways from Thanksgiving

WATCH: Ronda Rousey talks Eminem

CM Punk opens up about leaving WWE

Wrigley renovation may be delayed

Steelers could have been America's Team

John Beilein upset with ESPN

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.