After being released from the UFC following The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale in late 2015, flyweight Joby Sanchez had been taking incremental steps back towards the company when a big opportunity came his way.
This past July, Sanchez participated in the first Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series event and managed to get a unanimous decision win over Manny Vazquez. Though he wasn’t able to earn a contract with the win, Sanchez returned to the Contender Series a month later and scored a second-round knockout of JP Buys to get an offer to return to the UFC.
“I fought on the first one, but didn’t get the contract, so I came back and fought again on episode seven and got the contract,” Sanchez told MMAWeekly.com. “It wasn’t a surprise (to get an opportunity to return to the UFC), because when I got cut, I said I would get back and I truly believed it.”
Looking back on his two wins in the Contender Series, Sanchez is pleased with how he performed in both bouts, and felt that if his win over Vazquez didn’t get him into the UFC, the way he fought against Buys would.
“Against Manny overall I felt good, and even though I didn’t get the contract, I was happy with the fight,” said Sanchez. “He was a tough guy, a big flyweight, and I felt I was able to out-wrestle him and out-scramble him. Even when he strongest and got me down and in into his best position, he still couldn’t finish me.
“(In the Buys fight) after the first round and going into the second I felt he was broken. He was gassed as well, so I really knew if I put the pressure on him I’d finish him that round. By the time he’s my age, he’ll be in the UFC, but I knew his inexperience was going to play a factor.”
Having been two years since he last had an official bout in the UFC, Sanchez feels he has grown quite a bit and is eager to make his return proper before the end of 2017.
“I believe I’ve made big adjustments not only in my skill work but I feel mentally I’m right where I need to be and I’m only going to get better from here,” Sanchez said. “I definitely want to fight before the year is over.”