Turlock's professional Mixed Martial Artist Brandon Bettencourt has big dreams and goals. One of them is to eventually compete and become a contender in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
In order to do that he needs to continue his undefeated ways to make a convincing case.
He now sits at 2-0 after his latest fight, back on Nov. 18, that saw him earn a submission victory in the opening round over Abner Perez at No Limit Fighting – King of the Mountain promotion from the Mother Lode Fairgrounds in Sonora.
“Going into this last fight gave me confidence I could go three rounds if need be,” said Bettencourt. “I was confident and got the finish first round. With 41 seconds left, I had to get the guy out. I had his back and almost got the rear naked choke, when he rolled over, he put his arms up and I got him in an arm-triangle choke.”
His victory was even sweeter with well over 100 supporters present for at the Sonora fight, including his father, Greg Bettencourt, and training partner and friend Lewis Gonzales.
“It was a cool moment,” said Bettencourt. “All my coaches were in Sacramento, but I had my dad for the first time in my corner. It was really cool to have him in my corner, felt comfortable there…Pretty cool and thankful for everyone who support me, 209 and 405, Bay Area, forever thankful for them.”
The fight almost didn't happen.
Bettencourt, who was scheduled to fight at the bantamweight (135-pounds) division, had to settle for a catchweight bout after Perez weighed in at 145 pounds, essentially making this a featherweight battle.
With such a discrepancy in weight, Bettencourt’s team was quick to suggest pulling out from the fight, but he decided to go on.
“This last fight the guy came in at 145, was way over, so I had to drink water to get to 137 to fight at featherweight since he was so far off,” said Bettencourt. “That wasn't the plan, but then I sold so many tickets so I couldn’t say no, then on fight day the guy came in at 158, almost 20 pounds over me on fight night. Kind of scary, but looking at my friends and family, they asked if I still wanted to do it, and I did.”
He won in convincing fashion, finishing his overweight and much bigger opponent.
Bettencourt currently works a daytime job, then commutes to the Bay Area every day and trains at El Niño Training Center where a plethora of UFC fighters train, including well known brawler Gilbert Melendez, who was also ringside in Bettencourt's first fight back on Nov. 5 in Sacramento.
“I train with Gilbert’s team every day after work. I go out there, except Sunday, which I go to church and hang with family,” said Bettencourt. “Other than that, I train every day. I am in my peak years so I have to get the ball rolling before I get too old. It’s awesome having Gilbert, he was in my corner for my first pro fight. Very thankful for him and his gym, [helping me to] achieve my dream of being a fighter.”
In his first bout at WFC 18 – Fight Night Sacramento, Bettencourt defeated Trey Branch via unanimous decision after three rounds.
At 29-years-old, Bettencourt says he is only beginning to find his groove and the best might be yet to come.
“I feel mentally stronger than ever, I’ve got a lot of motivation with my daughter and one of my friends who was a great wrestler, passed away and I want to do it for him,” said Bettencourt. “I fight for him since he couldn't and I get a lot of motivation like that. No quit in me now, I don’t want to be 40 looking back wishing I would have done that.”
Bettencourt, a 2006 graduate from Turlock High, was also a wrestler for the Bulldogs during his time in high school, wrestling alongside state champion, Gonzales.
In fact, it was because of Gonzales that Bettencourt took an interest in MMA, starting in 2010.
“I started training at a local gym then kind of fell in love with it after I went to the gym with Lewis,” said Bettencourt. “I like the intense competition of testing yourself and your skills against somebody else who is trying to take you out. I like the feeling and rush it gave me. There is no pro wrestling, but I always wanted to be a pro athlete, saw fighting and wanted to do that.”
Now, Bettencourt is eyeing a bigger 2018 year, which could result in catapulting him into serious contention.
“Hopefully, I get some more wins in 2018 and hopefully a big promotion, Bellator or UFC. Bellator might be a possibility,” said Bettencourt. “They have local guys to fill the seed, so that is definitely a possibility sooner than the UFC.”
He was quick to credit his sponsors for helping him make his fight dreams a reality.
“Robert Vasquez, Anything on Wheels, they help support me in my fight with training necessities,” he added. “I Am Yoga helps with recovery and any injuries, Anna Eshoo, she helped get me back in the ring and Sun Control Tent, Omar, few local sponsors that help a lot. Then Jayden's Journey as well help me out help with training. It takes a team to get it done.”
Bettencourt is hoping to fight as soon as February, but the date and opponent has yet to be scheduled or determined.
“I want to keep the ball rolling. January or February and get the CFC belt in April,” Bettencourt added.