Article

Gonzaga back in Octagon after meaningful victory

With the exception of a brief spell from late 2010 to early 2012, Gabriel Gonzaga has spent his time in pro mixed martial arts over the last decade as a UFC fighter. That’s a run to be proud of, one that has seen him compile 12 wins, score a head kick knockout of Mirko Cro Cop that will live on in highlight reels forever, and challenge for the world heavyweight title.

But it’s likely that none of those 12 Octagon wins was as important as his last one over Konstantin Erokhin. It wasn’t pretty, as Gonzaga picked up a three-round unanimous decision – the first time he’s ever won in that manner – but it was a win, and he needed it after three consecutive losses.

“It was meaningful,” Gonzaga said of his victory. “I didn't want to get punched in my head, so I needed to be smart to avoid the loss. The focus in the fight was to win and keep going up in the division.”

MORE ON FIGHT NIGHT ZAGREB: Free fights: JDS vs. Frank Mir, Rothwell vs. Matt Mitrione | UFC FIGHT PASS Spotlight - Zagreb | Fight Card | Tickets

It was a good call for Gonzaga, who was stopped by Cro Cop and Matt Mitrione and decisioned by Stipe Miocic in his previous three bouts. There’s no shame losing to any of that trio, but when the defeats start adding up, it’s not good for career longevity and the 36-year-old Gonzaga knew it, so he did what he had to in order to right his ship.

Now, he’s in a co-main event in Zagreb, Croatia against Derrick Lewis this Sunday, and all is well with the world, even if Lewis is a late sub for the injured Ruslan Magomedov.

“The training didn’t change much,” Gonzaga said. “I just fixed some details in the game plan.”
 

One of those details was probably avoiding the thunder “The Black Beast” brings to the Octagon. Not interested in a grappling match, Lewis wants a knockout, whether on the feet or the mat. Gonzaga is no stranger to such pursuits, but he also knows that his best course of action may be to use his submission game. That experience got him through the Erokhin fight, and he expects it to do the same this Sunday.

“This (experience) gives you confidence and less stress, and when you have it, you can use skills that only being inside of a fight can bring to you.”

Like jiu-jitsu?

“I am more mature and I do BJJ, so that helps me a lot,” he smiles.

It’s impossible not to like the 36-year-old Gonzaga, a gentleman and family man who has basically grown up in the Octagon. Outside of it, he has built a life in Massachusetts, where he has lived since 2006. His only complaint?

“The winter is too long,” laughs the Rio de Janeiro native. “But I love it here and I love the people that welcomed me.”

Those New Englanders will join the Brazilians in cheering for their man this weekend. And he’s earned those cheers. As for the fight, he promises to “give my best like always. I’m going to finish my fight.”

Watch Past Fights

Media

Recent
No. 4-ranked heavyweight Francis Ngannou spoke to members of the media this week about his huge opportunity vs. No. 1-ranked Alistair Overeem at UFC 218 in Detroit. He spoke about the matchup and who deserves next title shot.
22/11/2017
Hear from Kelvin Gastelum before he takes on Michael Bisping this Saturday in the main event of Fight Night Shanghai on UFC FIGHT PASS. Start your free 7 day trial now at: www.ufc.tv
22/11/2017
Preview the main event and co-main event of the incredible UFC 218 card, featuring Max Holloway's first title defense against Jose Aldo, as well as Francis Ngannou battling Alistair Overeem. UFC 218 happens Dec. 2 in Detroit, MI.
21/11/2017
UFC Bantamweight Gina "Danger" Mazany travels to Shanghai to face newcomer Yanan Wu on Saturday Nov. 25, and UFC.com had exclusive access to her preparation in Las Vegas at the UFC Performance Institute and Xtreme Couture gym.
20/11/2017