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Victoria fighters take to the cage for Grudge rematch

By by bianca r. montes/bmontes@vicad.com
Jan. 1, 2014 at midnight
Updated Dec. 31, 2013 at 7:01 p.m.

Jacob Rodriguez, 19, top, pins Aaron Maldonado during the Texas Rage in the Cage event, part of The Grudge match, at the Victoria Community Center. Rodriguez won in one round in one minute, 18 seconds.

There was only one thing mixed martial artist Leroy Sanchez wanted after competing in The Grudge last year.

A rematch.

And he's going to get it.

Last year, Sanchez stepped into the cage to battle it out with 20-year-old Jacob Rodriguez and lost.

He admits his competitor clearly won the first round, but Sanchez said he made waves in the second round and dominated the final round.

"I thought (the fight) could have gone either way," Sanchez said. "In my eyes, it was a draw."

Rodriguez doesn't agree.

The two will air out their differences Saturday during the fifth annual mixed martial arts Grudge match.

And they both have something to prove.

This year, Sanchez said he's been changing up his routine, dropping weight at a healthier rate and heavily increasing his cardio and strength training.

Still, he said he's considered the underdog.

"I'm happy with that," he said. "It doesn't bother me being the underdog. People don't expect me to win; they expect me to lose."

A win would be that much sweeter, he said.

Rodriguez said he has more to prove to himself than anyone else because he didn't fight as hard as he wanted to during the last match.

"This time, I am coming at 100 percent," he said, which consists of months of training with black belts and national championship boxers - not to mention five hours a day at the gym.

"The best man is going to come out."



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