The newest member of the bantamweight roster isn’t too concerned with the first-time UFC jitters hitting him during his debut against Rob Font on Jan. 17. Joey Gomez has been through worse trials than having a fellow athlete trying to punch him in the face.
“I’ve had people hunting me,” the United States Marine Corps veteran said. “I’ve had people trying to kill me, putting bombs on the side of the road to blow me up.”
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Two tours in Iraq will make what happens on fight night sedate by comparison, but the 29-year-old Gomez still gets those healthy butterflies just before the bell rings.
“It is nerve racking getting into a cage and putting it all out there because you’ll never be more vulnerable,” he said. “It’s the rawest form of competition, and it’s a very intimate thing that you’re allowing people to see.”
The unbeaten New Hampshire product hasn’t given fans too much to see thus far though, as all six of his pro fights have ended by first-round knockout. That kind of run has made his bout with fellow KO artist Font a highly-anticipated one, as well as a fight Gomez – a one-time training partner of Font’s – always knew would eventually happen.
“It is nerve racking getting into a cage and putting it all out there because you’ll never be more vulnerable,” -- Joey Gomez
“I’ve known Rob for a couple years now, and he’s a good dude,” he said. “I really respect him as a person and as a fighter. For me, I knew this day was coming. It was bound to happen, and I think Rob knew too. I had always anticipated us having a fight one day. I think he views fighting the same way I do – it’s a job. I may like you, but that’s not going to stop me from doing my job. I don’t have to hate you to fight you, I just have to fight you.”
It’s almost fate that the bout is happening for the two New Englanders now, and in Boston, no less. Font was originally scheduled to face Patrick Williams next week, but an injury scrapped Williams from the bout. Soon after, Gomez got a phone call – actually several – from his manager. When he returned the call, he received one question:
“How fat are you?”
Gomez, who stayed in the gym since his last fight in March of last year, told him he was within striking range of the bantamweight limit, and then he received the news he was waiting for. He was a UFC fighter.
“I proceeded to run around the shop like a schoolgirl, screaming,” laughed Gomez, who still works full-time as a Diesel Technician. It’s a hectic juggling act for the married father of two, but he’s made it work.
“I can’t get more hours out of the day, so I have to sacrifice something, and the only thing I’m able to sacrifice is sleep,” he said. “Sometimes my days start at 4:50 in the morning so I can get to strength and conditioning and train. After that, I go straight to work, I work an eight-hour day and then I’m back in the gym from 5 until 9 o’clock. That’s five nights a week sometimes. I don’t want to be gone that much. I want my time with my family. And now that I’ve been afforded this opportunity, that will be something I’ll be able to do.”