At 28, Andrew “El Dirte” Sanchez At 28, Andrew “El Dirte” Sanchez is quickly gaining momentum in the UFC middleweight division. Sanchez won the light heavyweight tournament championship at The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale for Team Claudia with a dominating unanimous decision win over Khalil Rountree in December 2016. Since then, he returned to middleweight with a unanimous decision win against Trevor Smith at UFC Fight Night 102.
Sanchez took up Tae Kwon Do at the age of 13 and then progressed to wrestling, two sports that he says were a great outlet for him at the time, helping to build character and make him a better person. From there, he was a successful college wrestler, becoming a four-time All American collegiate wrestler, a two-time National collegiate wrestling champion. From there, a progression to Jiu-Jitsu and MMA resulted in Sanchez becoming an IBJJF and Pan American World Champion. He’s also a former RFA middleweight champion.
Sanchez admits to having a laser focus, but strikes a balance between the rigors of training and fighting and being a normal, down-to-earth guy by taking just one thing at a time. In the rare off-moments when he’s not training or fighting, Sanchez can be found playing guitar, writing music, playing video games or just spending time with friends.
And as far as that laser focus goes, he’s aiming for Top 10 status in the UFC and even the UFC title strap, but in true El Dirte fashion, he’s focusing on his training and his next fight—taking it one day at a time.
Sanchez is currently preparing to fight Anthony Smith (26-12) at UFC on Fox 24 on April 15. A win over Smith would cement a five-fight winning streak for the Illinois native who now fights out of Fairfield, New Jersey.