Originally written 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.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Tom Brady: I did nothing wrong, replaced a broken phone

49ers OC: Kaepernick didn’t regress as much as believed

John Calipari may coach Kentucky until he is 73

Eric Berry cleared to practice with Chiefs

WATCH: Pedro Martinez's number retired in ceremony

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia suspended 162 games for PEDs

Brady told staff to hand copy of game ball rules to officials

Phillies agree to send Jonathan Papelbon to Nationals

Report: Russell Wilson to end contract negotiations Friday

Report: Brady authorizes NFLPA to appeal his case in court

NFL, NFLPA reduce Le'Veon Bell suspension

What would a Cole Hamels trade look like?

Luther Campbell jabs FSU coach over decommitment

WATCH: Royals infielders combine for incredible play

Cowboys DE Jeremy Mincey to hold out of training camp

Terry Bollea's self-destruction: Hulkamania as social construct

Lou Holtz: ND has 'legitimate chance' to make playoff

Golfer Billy Hurley III asks for help finding missing father

Dismissed Clemson DE tweets he hates cops after arrest

Smith to report to camp, no charges filed for child abuse

Angels stockpile outfielders, acquire Murphy and DeJesus

Penguins trade Brandon Sutter to the Canucks

Ronda Rousey willing to fight Miesha Tate a third time

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.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Tom Brady: I did nothing wrong

NFL upholds Tom Brady's suspension, legal battle likely

Cardinals hire first female NFL coach

Larry Bird: Michael Jordan would kill me in 1-on-1 now

Seau family: HOF broke their word

Kobe to see time at power forward next year

Mike Pettine not ruling out Manziel

Galette appears to unload on Payton

Dez Bryant in 'financial distress' before signing new deal

Top 10 CFB coaches on the hot seat

Was Popovich close to retiring last year?

Kyle Busch continues historic run with Brickyard win

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker