PFL 6 takes place on Friday, June 25th, with it being the last event of the regular season before the 2021 playoffs. Defending women’s lightweight champion Kayla Harrison headlines the event, facing Cindy Dandois. In the co-main, Anthony Pettis looks to progress through to the playoffs with a win against Raush Manfio.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Laura Sanchez, who takes part in her third professional bout against Taylor Guardado. Sanchez is an athlete who’s competed in sports such as Basketball before making moves in MMA. In 2019, Sanchez became a world champion competing in the Gamma World Championship in Singapore.
Sanchez made her professional debut only two months later, in the Chosen Few Fight Championships. She eased herself into the first round, and towards the end, landed a perfect right hook to wobble her opponent Miranda Barber. Sanchez ended the fight in the first with knee to the face and another powerful right.
In her second bout, she was brought straight into the deep end at PFL 3, facing off against Genah Fabian. In a close contest, Sanchez lost the bout via unanimous decision, but she proved herself a tough competitor in the women’s lightweight division. She held her own with a strong chin and landed some nice shots on Fabian, but Fabian worked the clinch well to win on the judge’s scorecards.
Fellow American Guardado has only competed in two professional bouts herself. She took the fight to the ground against Olena Kolesnyk at PFL 3 and was awarded the unanimous decision victory to earn three points on the scoreboard. Sanchez holds a strong height advantage over her opponent, with Guardado potentially looking for the takedown in this one. Both fighters put everything on the line to find a spot in the PFL playoffs.
Laura Sanchez: “This Is Just the Beginning”
Firstly, I see you had a basketball scholarship, why did you decide to make the transition to MMA?
Laura Sanchez – “I’ve always wanted to be in Martial Arts. My parents couldn’t afford a monthly membership and it was more affordable for me to take part in Basketball. So, I played ball and went as far as I could with it. Martial Arts was always in the back of my mind though. So, when I was done with Basketball, I figured I would do something I’ve always wanted to do.”
Talk to me about the Gamma World Championship, how did that come about and how did it feel to become a world champion?
Laura Sanchez – “Gamma come about when into Roufusport one day and Duke (Coach) said hey I got you into the Gamma World Championship. I was too ready. It felt surreal when I won. It took a while to sink in. Then I realized I am a world champion. How many people get to say that about themselves? That’s a small percentage. No one can take that accomplishment from me. My name is in history as the 2019 Gamma Women’s Lightweight World Champion.”
Was the process from amateur to becoming a professional longer than you expected?
Laura Sanchez – “The process to become a professional took longer only because it was hard for me to get fights at the lightweight division. I had so many fights that promoters were trying to put together that fell through. I pretty much had about a year in between fights, except for three fights.”
Did you feel the pressure ahead of your first professional fight, or are you not the type of person to feel pressure?
Laura Sanchez – “Pressure? I don’t know if it’s necessarily pressure. I just felt nervous as I always do before fights. I didn’t think about the fact that it was my pro debut. I just knew I was able to add the elbows and knees to the face.”
A finish in your debut in the first round against Miranda Barber, how does it feel to get the finish, never mind the win!?
Laura Sanchez – “I was really excited to get the finish. I didn’t think about finishing in any particular way. I was just patient and when I struck, I attacked and the finish just came.”
Tell me about the call from PFL when they wanted you to join the women’s lightweight division.
Laura Sanchez – “The PFL didn’t call me. I was at the mall and I received a phone call from Duke. I just thought he never calls me. I answered and he said you sitting down? So I sat down and he said you’re now a PFL fighter. Again another surreal moment for me. I knew he mentioned PFL before, but it was only about three or four days after my pro debut, so I didn’t expect anything to happen so soon. Of course, I was excited and ready to get to work again.”
How did the Covid Pandemic affect you in terms of your training and even general life really?
Laura Sanchez – “Covid changed a lot, but I was blessed to keep my full-time job. I work for GE Healthcare and was able to set my computer up at home. Training-wise, I took the pandemic as an opportunity to continue improving. There was no pressure for me to get ready to fight, so I was able to relax and enjoy training, and learn more.”
What are your thoughts on your loss to Genah Fabian?
Laura Sanchez – “Losses happen. It’s not the worst thing in life to happen to me. Of course, I was disappointed in myself. I’m my own worst critic. But I used to be so hard on myself that I couldn’t get past a loss/failure. Failure sucks, but you have to take it as an opportunity to learn. If you can’t do that, you’ll stay stuck. I don’t have time for that attitude anymore. I want to be great. You have to learn in order to grow and you have to grow in order to be great. I learned from that fight and moved forward.”
Do you know much on your next opponent Taylor Guardado, and do you have any predictions for the fight?
Laura Sanchez – “I know that PFL announced her as a striker in her last fight. However, she grappled for most of it. So, I know that she can grapple and may look to take me down because of the height/reach difference. I predict I win. I don’t think about the how or when.”
Finally, you have only just started your career! So, do you have any aspirations for the future?
Laura Sanchez – My Aspirations? Win the PFL championship. Win it again next year and however many years I feel after that. Become one of the greatest MMA fighters in history. This is just the beginning. Own some of my own businesses or have a hand in some so I can have a constant income. It would be better for me if I could just support myself as a fighter instead of having a full-time job on top of the fighting. Not to mention this would help even after fighting.
I want to be able to give back to the community and donate to charities. Just want to help people. I want to enjoy life and travel. I want to see and experience different cultures. I’m working hard now so I can enjoy life later.
Featured Image Credits to: Professional Fighters League