After his recent split decision loss to Michael Page, MMA Plus spoke to the “Menifee Maniac” Fernando Gonzalez ahead of his welterweight bout against Brandon Girtz at Bellator 174.
The bout was originally scheduled to be against Andrey Koreshkov but the Russian was forced to pull out due to injury.
Despite a deceiving record of 25-14, the Californian has enjoyed a successful time under the Bellator MMA promotion with a record of 5-1 so far. His only loss under their banner was the controversial decision loss to “Venom” Page at Bellator 165.
Gonzalez lost the controversial fight against British prospect Page after appearing to have won two of the three rounds. Only one of the judges scored the bout in favour of the American though handing Page the win and leaving Gonzalez devastated.
“I believe I won the fight but you can’t really work out what a judge is going to see or going to do. I just went out there and fought the best I could to get the win. In my eyes and pretty much everyone in that arena’s, I won,” Gonzalez told MMA Plus.
“The first round was a little boring but my timing was off a little bit so I had to kind of circle away but every time he came forward I’d crack him. People were expecting to see these highlight reels from him. I was the one trying to make it a fight and he was just running.
“Honestly, I think he was assuming that I was going to just go in there to take him down and I didn’t play into that game. As far as him being the taller fighter, he should’ve been able to pick me apart. He didn’t do anything. He was running to not get knocked out.”
Gonzalez shared the view that Bellator themselves believed he deserved the victory over Page hence them offering the Californian his shot at Koreshkov.
“They definitely gave me a good comeback fight. At the press conference, Scott [Coker] actually told me ‘Hey, I don’t know what that was but you obviously came to fight, we’ll get in contact with you soon’ and that’s how I ended up getting that fight,” said the welterweight.
“Honestly, from what I felt and the way the promotion was treating me, I believe they felt I won the fight too”.
Gonzalez still hopeful of clash with Andrey Koreshkov
Gonzalez was evidently disappointed at missing the opportunity to face one of Bellator’s best in Andrey Koreshkov but insisted he had nothing but respect for his fellow welterweight.
“You know it’s frustrating but at the same time, it’s not his fault, he’s trying hard in training to get ready for me. It was kind of bittersweet because I’d been training hard at the time he was our champion,” admitted Gonzalez.
A fight with the fellow welterweight would see the two fighters finally cross paths and would give Gonzalez a chance to send shockwaves through the division with a victory over the European who’s won 19 of his 21 professional bouts.
“As far as a person, I really respect Andrey a lot and we actually both fought on the same card,” revealed the “Menifee Maniac.”
“My very first fight I got into Bellator, he won the tournament that night and he’s a great fighter so for me to just go out there and test myself against the best to prove I’m one of the best is my goal. I have nothing but respect for that guy.”
Despite many fighters being disrupted or tormented with opponent changes due to opponent-specific training drills, Gonzalez insisted that a change in opponent does not affect what he’s been working on during this training camp.
“A lot of times, guys will train a specific thing and that’ll tend to throw people off, but I’ve been doing this for 14 years so I’ve had guys fall out the day of the fight and they had to find me someone else,” revealed Gonzalez.
“It’s something I’ve already been through and already experienced so I’ve trained myself to train for tall, short, everybody, just in case that happens. I try to keep it pretty even in my training camp in case something like this happens so I’m ready and I’m prepared to go.”
When asked about how he feels he matches up with Friday night’s opponent, Gonzalez revealed he felt the key to his upcoming bout was speed.
“Well on this one I think it’s gonna be a lot more speed, I think it’s gonna play out a lot like the Marius Zaromski’s fight where I’m gonna have to keep him standing and throw a lot of fire power because he swings heavy.
“He does tend to do some takedowns but I think once we hit the ground he will feel my power and see how skilled I am on the ground.”
Gonzalez details his love of mind games both pre-fight and post-fight
Gonzalez interestingly exclaimed his love for mentally breaking opponents. During the clash with Page, it is claimed that “Venom” was asking about a rematch, but at the post-fight press conference, he was eager to dodge any such talks or offers.
“One of the things I like to do is to mentally break my opponents. If I can go out there and mentally break him, he’s never going to want to fight me again and I’m pretty sure it’s the same with Page,” stated the Californian.
“In the fight he was asking me for a rematch but as soon as he got the win and we are at post-fight press conference he’s like ‘I’m gonna move on, I don’t want to fight again’. The more they can avoid me, they’re going to.”
The welterweight is still confident of a title shot, stating, “I don’t think I’ve lost a fight since I’ve joined the promotion, even when I did the kickboxing match with Paul Daley. I felt I won that match as well as many other people.”
A bout with Koreshkov raised more than a few eyebrows when announced, given the Russian’s pedigree, however a win over the former champion would’ve undoubtedly put him in contention for a title shot. Gonzalez insists that if he is offered a chance to fight for the belt, he will grab the opportunity by the horns.
“I feel that at any given time, if they give me my title shot, I’m going to win. I’m going to be the next champion. It’s just a matter of getting that shot,” declared Gonzalez.
“At this point everyone says ‘its my time’ and realistically it’s all of our time, this is the time we are all peaking but I feel like I have a little bit more on the stand-up and on the ground mixed together. These guys are either strikers or they’re ground guys and they’re not complete fighters just yet.”