Four months have passed since Lewis Gonzalez suffered his first career loss at the hands of Luis Palomino in the World Series of Fighting 12 main event in Las Vegas. Those familiar with Gonzalez had grown accustomed to watching the Lightweight prospect pummel his way through the division and a loss, especially via KO, was the last thing that was expected.
But losing is an occupational hazard as a professional MMA fighter and Gonzalez was quick to remind himself of that fact. After the fight, he conceded he had not fought a smart fight and tried to force his take down attempts against better judgment. He vowed to improve his stand up game and he promised to be back in the cage in no time at all.
As it turns out Gonzalez is a man of his word because on Saturday, at the McClellan Conference Center in Sacramento, he returns to the cage in search of redemption against Justin Buchholz of Team Alpha Male for WSOF16.
“I'm just trying to get back in the winner's column before the end of the year,” Gonzalez said. “I definitely don't want to drop two. I know that will set me back.”
Gonzalez enters Saturday's fight with six weeks worth of training, but he's had less than a week to prepare for Buchholz. Originally scheduled to face Brian Cobb before an injury forced him to pull out of the fight, Gonzalez learned he would be squaring off against the Sacramento-based fighter on Monday.
“I was already expecting to fight. I was supposed to fight Cobb and when he got injured I was bummed, but they told me they were going to find somebody. So I kept my mind set that I was fighting that day,” Gonzalez said.
The change in opponent will mean a change in what Gonzalez can expect when he steps into the cage. Whereas Cobb has won a bulk of his fights via submission, Buchholz has found his success on his feet with seven of his 15 wins coming by way of KO or TKO. Though he's had short notice to game plan for Buchholz, Gonzalez and his team at MMA Gold feel their training regime and new found focus on his standup has the Turlocker more than prepared.
“A lot of time the guys I spar are pretty good stand up guys, and I have a pretty good wrestling background, so when we're doing MMA sparring I take them down. But I've been kind of holding back on that; kind of getting comfortable being uncomfortable,” Gonzalez said. “He probably watched the Palomino fight and will have the same game plan. So I'm going to be patient and cut off the cage and try to get him up against the cage.”
Buchholz, a veteran in the sport with a 15-8 record and several fights in the UFC, also has a knack for submissions with six to his name. Gonzalez, on the other hand, boasts five submissions and two KO/TKOs on his 9-1 record.
“I just need to be smarter than the last fight,” Gonzalez said. “I think he prefers to be on his feet than on the ground. I can't let him get in range.”
Gonzalez and Buchholz will fight in the early stages of Saturday's main card which is being headlined by the Rousimar Palhares vs. Jon Fitch fight. WSOF16 will be televised on the NBC Sports Network and Friday's weigh-ins will be streamed online at www.WSOF.com at 2:30 p.m.