Lewis Gonzalez may have had to give up Father’s Day last week, but it’s all for a good cause, as he gets that opportunity all fighters dream about this Saturday, as he faces Leandro Silva at UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Romero in Hollywood, Florida.
And like any such last minute call, it came as a bit of a surprise when he got word that after visa issues prevented 12 fighters from getting into the United States for tomorrow’s card, he was getting his chance to step into the big show.
“I had lost two fights ago, so my manager (Jason House) was thinking maybe I’d have to win one or two more, just to get back on a winning streak, but it was always in my head that you never know,” he said. “Somebody gets injured or falls off the card, and that’s what happened, so you just gotta stay in the gym and you never know when that call is gonna come up.”
Gonzalez wasn’t about to say no when he got it either, though he admits a big longer training camp wouldn’t have been a bad thing.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wish I had at least one more week (Laughs), but you can’t let these opportunities slip and I’m going to make the best of it,” the 27-year-old said. “Sometimes it’s better when you don’t study your opponent for too long and kind of just get a glimpse of him and watch a little bit of tape to find his small tendencies. When you start watching and those eight weeks go by, you kind of over think things. You’ve got to know what he’s best at, but you have to do what you’re best at and not over think things. That’s the upside on it.”
Plus there’s the little matter of making sure he hits 171 pounds today. Normally, a lightweight competitor, the short notice gave Gonzalez the “luxury” of coming in at welterweight, but there was still work to be done over the last ten days. The Turlock, California native has found a way to mix strategy in with weight cutting though.
“We get the strategy in there,” he said. “But I might be throwing on an extra layer while I’m hitting the mitts and going over the strategy. My coach has already watched a lot of film on him (Silva), so he’s already going over the combos and telling me what he likes to do, so we’re going over strategy, but I’ve got to concentrate on getting some weight off, so I’m putting on layers and doing both at the same time.”
A pro since 2011, Gonzalez is a former California State Junior College wrestling champion for Palomar College, and his 10-1 MMA record includes victories over UFC vets Antonio McKee and Justin Buchholz. Those victories were broken up by a loss to Luis Palomino last August, but having proven able to hang with quality foes, his emotions are at an even keel heading into the most important fight of his career.
“I’ll probably get some jitters, but you have to get nervous and I don’t think it will be much of a factor in there because I’ve been in a main event in a big show before on a big stage,” Gonzalez said. So what should fight fans expect at the Hard Rock?
“That I fit in and that I’m able to compete with the top guys in the world at the highest level,” he said. “I’m a tough guy and I belong.”