Originally posted on 5thRound.com  |  Last updated 2/15/12

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.

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Alabama kicker commit drills 77-yard field goal

WATCH: Texas guard destroys opponent with huge dunk

Reports: Red Sox were in on Greinke if Price fell through

Chris Webber advises Lakers to swipe Kobe's memorabilia

Five-star CB excited about Kirby Smart hire by Georgia

San Diego Padres unveil awesome new uniforms


Report: Mark Richt being recruited to run for Georgia governor

Cowboys won’t put Tony Romo on IR because of playoff hopes

What the Selection Committee taught us: Week 13

Majority of FIFA sponsors demanding independent review on reforms

Zack Greinke expected to choose between Dodgers, Giants by end of week

Reports: David Price, Red Sox agree to seven-year, $217 million contract

Mike Tomlin settles for field goal, then says you can’t settle for one

Kobe: 76ers thought I would score 81 points after hot start

Claude Julien: No animosity between Bruins, Chirelli

Report: Louisville QB Will Gardner will transfer

Report: Yasiel Puig and Don Mattingly didn’t talk at all toward end

WATCH: Roy Hibbert pushes referee during scrum

Orioles set to acquire Mark Trumbo from Mariners

Seven storylines for Week 14 of the college football season

Colin Kaepernick jerseys on sale at 49ers’ team store

Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz named Big Ten Coach Of The Year

Mid-American Conference Championship preview

Lakers trying to decide which Kobe Bryant jersey number to retire

Matthew Dellavedova is becoming a better passer

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.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Seven storylines for Week 14 of the college football season

MAC Championship preview

Tiger Woods’ career inches closer to an end after gloomy injury update

QUIZ: Name every NCAA football national champion since 1950

Browns lose to Ravens as only the Browns know how

NCAA figures out how to invite 5-7 teams to bowls

Ranking top Heisman Trophy candidates

Have the New Orleans Saints given up?

This weekend in NFL stupid, ft. Rex Ryan

Missouri won’t accept a bowl bid at 5-7

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker