Combate Americas makes its trek back to California for Combate 11 on Feb. 16.  The fight card is headlined by the main event between Kyra Batara & Vanessa Rico.

This fight card features an abundance of local fighters from the state of California. 16 of the 20 fighters competing on the card all hail from the Golden State.

One of those fighters is Erick Sanchez, who fights out of renowned MMA gym, Team Alpha Male.  The Sacramento-based gym is home to some of the UFC’s most successful fighters in the lower weight divisions, such as current bantamweight champion, Cody Garbrandt, popular woman’s strawweightPaige VanZant, and the recently retired, MMA pioneer- Urijah Faber.

Sanchez acknowledged the positive influence his gym and team members have had on him and his career.

“It’s big because it’s the right people to surround yourself with.  Just to see the lifestyle they have and how serious they take the sport.  You see all of the success they have had in this sport and it makes me feel that if they can do it, I can do it.  It’s a big inspiration to be able to train with such top-level guys,” said Sanchez in an interview with Cage Pages.

Sanchez (7-2) will face off against Andres Quintana (9-2) in a featherweight bout.

“I feel he’s a tough opponent and has been doing this for a long time, but once we get in the cage, we’ll just have to test each other’s mettle and see who comes out on top. Me, I have a lot of heart, so it’s going to take a lot to get that W from me.  I’m ready to go 7 rounds if needed.”

Sanchez has also competed for Bellator and the World Series of Fighting organisations but feels very comfortable with his decision to join Combate Americas.

“I feel Combate is growing and they got my attention because I feel there is more exposure for the Latin fighters in this organisation versus fighting for Bellator or World Series.  Here at Combate, you’re one of 100 fighters rather than one of 900, and it gives me an opportunity to fight for my people.  We’re fighting on Azteca TV, so it’s perfect to get that exposure in Mexico.”

Sanchez still has family in Mexico and is thrilled his family can watch him compete and follow his career more closely.

“It pumps me up just knowing that they are all anxious to watch me do my thing in there and that definitely gives me extra motivation.”

The 25-year old seems to have a bright future ahead of him but doesn’t believe his involvement with combat sports will end once his fighting days are up.

“I plan on fighting for as long as my body lets me.  After I’m done with fighting, I want to continue being involved in this sport.  Maybe get into coaching or an announcing gig or something like that.  I just want to prove myself and show how good I am and want to be the best in the world.”

After his fight, Sanchez said he plans on going out to Las Vegas to help Cody Garbrandt with some of the coaching duties for the upcoming Ultimate Fighter season, in which former TAM member, TJ Dillashaw, will be the opposing coach on the reality TV series.

“My point of view is that I’m ready to fight whenever.  If someone stole my car right now, I’m ready to go now! None of this waiting to train some more or any of that.  I’m not with picking and choosing fights.  I’ve never turned down and fight.  This is what I do, this is my life and this is all I know.”

Combate Americas 11 will be live from the Burbank Events Center in Burbank, California on Thursday, Feb. 16 and will be broadcast live on UFC Fight Pass and Azteca in the United States and Mexico.