"I love the way I match up with Anthony Pettis," Sanchez told MMAjunkie.com. "We're a contrast in styles, and I feel my style beats his style."
Not many fighters are eager to call out Pettis (17-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) after he ran the gauntlet in the UFC's 155-pound weight class before submitting and taking the belt from Benson Henderson in August. Sanchez (24-5 MMA, 13-5 UFC) is one of the few willing to publicly say he has what it takes to dethrone "Showtime," specifically due to his grappling skills, which he considers to be underrated.
"I'm a very good wrestler, and I'm a better grappler than I am a wrestler," Sanchez said. "I feel I'm the best grappler in the division at 155 (pounds), and with my size advantage, I feel there's not a guy that I can't take down in that division. So it just comes down to being sharp in my striking and being ready to make a fight a fight."
Sanchez previously earned a title shot in the lightweight division, but he came up short in his championship bout with then-champ B.J. Penn in 2009. Since then he's fluctuated between weight classes and fizzled out as a contender.
When Sanchez was challenging for UFC gold in 2009, Pettis was preparing to compete in just his second bout under now-defunct WEC banner and was essentially an unknown.
By no means does "The Dream" see the potential matchup as an easy one, but he is highly confident in his capability to exploit and neutralize one of the champion's biggest offensive weapons.
"One of my best skills is catching kicks," Sanchez said. "If you watch a lot of my fights, nobody really tries to leg kick me, because if they try to kick me I'm really, really good at coming forward, grabbing kicks, catching kicks and turning it into takedowns.
"It's an art that I've established throughout my entire career, and when people try to kick me, they're on one leg. And when you're on one leg, that's the easiest time to take someone down."
As seen in Pettis' victory over Henderson, catching a kick or taking the fight to the ground is only half the battle when facing the Team Roufusport-trained athlete.
Pettis has the ability to end a fight with a submission as quickly as with a knockout, but after recently being awarded his Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Roberto Alencar, Sanchez is extremely confident he could avoid danger on the mat.
"I feel like my style beats Anthony Pettis' style, and I feel like I can pressure him and it's all about timing," Sanchez said. "I feel I have what it takes to win the UFC championship at lightweight."
It's a known fact that anyone can be defeated on any given day in MMA competition, but before a fight with Pettis can be discussed as any sort of reality, Sanchez has a lot of work to do in the lightweight division. With the controversy surrounding his controversial win over Takanori Gomi in March, "The Ultimate Fighter 1" winner must prove himself as an elite competitor – and moreover, as someone worthy of fighting for a UFC championship.
That all starts with Melendez (21-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC), whom he fights on pay-per-view. And while Sanchez may have the champ in the back of his mind, his sole focus is walking out of Houston's Toyota Center with a victory over the former Strikeforce titleholder.
The 31-year-old is fully aware if he doesn't impress on Saturday night, a matchup with Pettis or anyone else holding a UFC title is nothing more than fantasy.
"I get out there and make a huge statement," Sanchez said. "If I take it to him, and I dominate him in striking, I dominate him in mixed martial arts and I finish this guy that nobody has ever finished, I think it's a huge statement. It makes a case for a title shot, and it's going to put me right back to the top."