Lewis Gonzalez’ name is preceded by the moniker of “Lethal” for a reason. Leading up to Saturday’s main event fight against Luis Palomino at World Series of Fighting 12 in Las Vegas, Gonzalez had won eight of his nine professional fights via stoppage, with four of those fights being called in the first round.
But on Saturday, at the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel, the tables were turned on Gonzalez for the first time in his career. Returning to the cage after a one year hiatus—his biggest break from the sport—Gonzalez’ undefeated streak was snapped by Palomino via KO at the 4:42 mark of the first round.
“It’s tough. It’s everyone’s dream to go undefeated, but if you watch any kind of mixed martial arts everyone runs into a loss eventually,” Gonzalez said. “He just executed his game plan better.”
Gonzalez entered the WSOF12 main event with a wrestling based strategy with which he hoped would lead him to victory over the veteran Palomino. Gonzalez attempted to implement his strategy early in the fight with a couple shots from range, but Palomino was quick to stuff the take down attempts — which he countered with strikes.
After a right leg kick and left hook combo momentarily stunned Gonzalez, Palomino backed him up against the cage and landed a flurry of strikes that opened up a pair of cuts on the top of his head.
“I think I was pushing the takedowns too much in this fight. Usually, I can just take guys down at will but he wasn’t committing,” Gonzalez said. “I think we both knew that if I got him to the ground it would be my big advantage. He kept his distance real well and picked his strikes. My game plan was to get him frustrated and I think I was actually the one who got frustrated; I was over committing on my shots.”
With blood dripping down onto his face, Gonzalez finally managed to take Palomino to the mat with a head and arm. The fight didn’t stay on the ground for long, however, as Gonzalez was unable to secure the hold. Palomino quickly scrambled to his feet where he continued his strategy of striking from a distance.
“I was trying to crowd into him and step over but he scrambled well. I almost had him for a second and almost mounted him off of it, but he had a lot of energy and was real wirey and got out of it,” Gonzalez said of the takedown. “He just hustled to get out.”
There was less than 20 seconds left in round one when Palomino landed what would be the final three stand up strikes of the night. Beginning with a short left hook that sent Gonzalez to his knees, Palomino landed a hard leg kick to Gonzalez’ left shin which was followed by a left kick to the head. Palomino’s knee caught Gonzalez as he was coming in for a shot and sent him to the mat where referee Herb Dean called the fight after a couple more Palomino punches were landed.
“I’m still replaying it over and over again in my head. I’m still taking little things away from it,” Gonzalez said. “I feel like this fight, there was so much thought on I had to take him down. Instead of going out there and just fighting I think I had that set in.”
With the win, Palomino extends his record to 23-9 and sets himself up for a potential Lightweight title fight with the winner of the upcoming Justin Gaethje versus Melvin Guillard fight.
Gonzalez is now 9-1. Though he must avoid contact for the next 30 days, there are already whispers of a potential matchup with a top contender in the Lightweight division in late 2014 or early 2015. Until then, he will continue his training with MMA Gold in Sacramento after a couple weeks of rest.
“I’d like to thank everybody, everyone who supported me at Jura’s. I felt like I had a lot of people behind me,” he added.