“Lethal” Lewis Gonzalez is ready to step into the cage once again, as he should be. On Friday, Gonzalez (3-0) will take on Lamar Reed (1-0) at the Stockton Memorial Civic Center as part of Up and Comers 10. Six months removed from his last fight, Gonzalez is looking for his fourth professional win as he continues to further his MMA career.
“I’ve watched his film,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve worked on my striking for my game, and I’ve worked on my wrestling to defend his game. I’m ready to fight.”
Joining him on the card is Turlock’s Brandon Bettencourt, another former wrestler from Turlock High, in one of the night’s amateur fights. Bettencourt (1-1) will face newcomer Mike Ruiz (1-0) of Lemoore in what could be one of his last amateur fights.
“If I win this fight the promoters said my next one could be a title shot,” Bettencourt said. “I want to win the amateur belt and then go pro.”
In addition to their shared background, Gonzalez and Bettencourt have similar motivating factors for fighting. Both envision a long term MMA career by which they can provide for their families, particularly their children. Gonzalez has a 3-year-old boy and Bettencourt has a 2-year-old girl.
“I’m trying to take this to my full potential and put all I got into it, for my kid and my family,” Bettencourt said. “I want to make a better life for her.”
Friday will be a tough test for the two Turlockers as both of their opponents are seasoned collegiate wrestlers. To prepare for their fights, Gonzalez and Bettencourt have been training twice a day for weeks; splitting time between the gyms at Team Voodoo, Delhi High Boxing Club, and Turlock High Wrestling, where they have been training with the Section All-Star team. The variety of training, from long and short distance striking to grappling and submission techniques, has breathed confidence and technical knowledge into the pair of fighters.
“My standup is on a whole different level from when I started,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve been MMA training off and on since I was 19 and I’m feeling like I’m just starting to put all the pieces together.”
Gonzalez’ opponent, an All American collegiate wrestler and amateur MMA champion, is his first opponent with an extensive wrestling background. Because of his background, Reed, who trains out of Oakdale, is expected to take the fight to the mat, something Gonzalez is more than ready for.
“From what I’ve seen he doesn’t like to stand up at all, he usually wants to go for the shot. I think I can beat him in both standup and wrestling, but I want to expose his weakness with my hands,” Gonzalez said. “If he takes my wrestling lightly, just because I didn’t wrestle much in college, he’s going to be in for a rude awakening.”
As for Bettencourt, he’s counting on his experience and preparation to carry him through the fight.
“I should be more well-rounded,” Bettencourt said. “I know he’s going to try and take me down but I think I’ll be more unpredictable than he is.”
The night’s drama will be further increased with the presence of reality television cameras. Filming for “Fight Factory,” a new series on the NUVO network, will capture the action inside the cage and could provide career changing exposure. The fighters aren’t too concerned with media exposure, however, instead they are focused squarely on their opponents.
“I’m going to feel him out and when I get the opportunity I’m going to finish him,” Bettencourt said.
“I know that as a wrestler it’s hard to get away from that and use standup, so I think I have the advantage in that area,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a big deal to get those first five or six wins in a row, hopefully this will be four. If I can win, it’s looking like there are big things in the future for me.”
Tickets for the event can be purchased at www.upcunlimited.com. The first bout of the night will begin at 6:30 p.m.