Albuquerque native and mixed martial arts legend Diego Sanchez and his friend and protégé, Isaac “The Shermanator” Marquez, made an appearance Monday on mmafighting.com’s The MMA Hour.
In a 16-minute interview via Skype with host Ariel Helwani, Marquez made it clear he wants Dodson as his next opponent.
Marquez, who has Down’s syndrome, defeated Sanchez by submission (arm bar) in a display bout during a Dec. 1 MMA card at Isleta Resort & Casino. One suspects Sanchez was a bit off his game that night. Regardless, since then, video of the fight has gone viral on YouTube.
“We were happy about that, but we never planned any of that,” Sanchez said. “It was all just about Isaac fighting for his mom.” Marquez’s mother died from complications of dementia.
“His specialty is the arm bar,” Sanchez said, “but right now he has America’s heart in a choke hold.”
Sanchez, whose fighting nicknames include “Nightmare,” “Dream” and “Lionheart,” might consider calling himself “The Phrasemaker.”
At the start of the interview, Helwani called the Sanchez-Marquez fight “One of the great battles of the year, and in my opinion it’s gonna be in the running for fight of the year in 2017.”
But when Helwani asked Marquez about his fight with Sanchez, Marquez instead held up a photo of Dodson, Sanchez’s teammate at Jackson-Wink MMA.
“It looks like (Marquez) is ready for the next level,” Sanchez said. “He’s found someone who’s more his size, and he got excited.
“… Hopefully, little John answers and replies . … He’s a little scared, I think.”
Throughout the interview, the affection between Sanchez and Marquez was obvious. “He loves me, and I love him more,” Sanchez said.
Working with Marquez at Jackson-Wink, Sanchez said, has always been about improving Marquez’s health for the long term.
“No cheese, no bread,” Marquez said of his training regimen. “No hot dogs, no chips, no Coke.”
Sanchez and the other fighters at Jackson-Wink, Sanchez said, are careful not to injure their new star student. But, he said, “He does have talent, and he’s a motivation for the Down’s syndrome community, that even though you’re Down’s syndrome you can still have a dream, still believe in your dream and your dream is possible.
“That’s why he’s coming after John Dodson.”
SHE’S THE CHAMP: Albuquerque’s Nicco Montaño, the newly minted and first-ever UFC women’s flyweight champion, told Helwani she’s a bit annoyed by the eagerness of some of the top UFC fighters to challenge her for the title.
Valentina Shevchenko, who has fought for the UFC title at 135 pounds, wants to fight Montaño at 125. There’s been talk of Paige VanZant moving up from 115.
To Shevchenko and VanZant, Montaño says: stay in line.
“I laugh it off,” she told Helwani. “Some people don’t have the best attitude or sportsmanship, especially when it comes to fighting.
“I’m absolutely not scared. But I definitely think that they should be (made) to show what they can do at 125 before getting a chance to fight for a title.”
Montaño’s choice as an opponent for her first defense would be Sijara Eubanks, who was to have fought Montaño on Dec. 1 in The Ultimate Fighter 26 finale — the winner to be the first flyweight champion. But Eubanks was unable to make weight, and Montaño instead defeated Roxanne Modaferri for the title belt.
Montaño pointed out that Eubanks made the 125-pound limit three times during the TUF competition before having to be hospitalized after an unsuccessful weight cut.
“I do think Sarge can make (125), and I would like (her first opponent) to be Sarge. I think she deserves another chance.”
Whoever turns out to be Montaño’s first challenger will have to wait. The FIT-NHB fighter fought Modaferri with a broken bone in her left foot. After first saying she’ll need surgery, Montaño told Helwani she’ll consult an orthopedist in hopes surgery can be avoided.
In any case, she said, she hopes to be back in the Octagon by July or August.
PAYDAY: UFC featherweight Cub Swanson, who trains at Jackson-Wink, lost his fight against Brian Ortega Saturday in Fresno, Calif., and with it any chance of getting a title shot.
But Swanson didn’t leave Fresno empty-handed. The Palm Springs, Calif., native earned a $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus, as well as a $20,000 payout from the UFC’s outfitting deal with Reebok.
Those numbers are in addition to Swanson’s fight purse. Those figures have not been released.