Fernando Gonzalez (23-12) is a Bellator welterweight putting the division on notice. The Team Quest brawler is 3-0 in Bellator, coming off of an impressive unanimous decision victory over former Strikeforce fighter Marius Zaromskis (20-9). We sat down with Fernando to discuss training, Dan Henderson and how he plans to defeat Bellator 137 opponent Curtis Millender (7-1).
SF: You had an impressive performance against Marious Zaromskis, using excellent boxing skills. Is that kind of standing scrap the type of fight you prefer?
Gonzalez: I love to strike but I love MMA, it’s a chess game. If I wanted to stick with boxing and kickboxing I would just do that but what I love so much about MMA is that you don’t know what’s going to happen. I want to keep it standing for the most part to make it exciting for myself and for the fans but you go in there unaware. I prepare for everything and I love that feeling because you don’t know what’s going to happen. You train your butt off for everything and train for every scenario.
SF: Did you have any aspirations to box or kickbox professionally or did the variety of MMA have too much of an appeal?
Gonzalez: I just prefer MMA because it’s more realistic. They’ll give you an 8-count in boxing and kickboxing and that can change the outcome of the fight. In a real fight, if one fighter is hurt and he can continue to finish, more likely you’re going to finish that fight. Take Gray Maynard vs. Edgar for example where Edgar was hurt but he came back to win the fight. I think those types of fights and that style where you can continue shows the heart and the type of determination a fighter has in them to push themselves. In boxing, you don’t really get that as much.
SF: Now that combat sports fans have MMA as the closest thing to a “real fight,” what do you think is in store for disciplines like boxing?
Gonzalez: I think it’s still going to be around. I love boxing and kickboxing as well, I’m not saying I don’t like them. I think the fans are loyal to both boxing and kickboxing so there’s always going to be a market there. For me, I love all the sports. I prefer MMA the most, it’s my main one. But I love to box and kickbox, I would love to compete in those and enjoy my fighting career as long as I can.
SF: How long have you been at Team Quest? What was the transition like when you started training with Dan Henderson?
Gonzalez: I’ve been there for 10-11 years. They actually brought me in as a lefty when he was fighting Vitor Belfort for the first time in Vegas. I already had experience in MMA but it was a rude awakening when I came in to train with him. It was crazy, I got to train with D1 wrestlers and I’ve never wrestled a day in my life until I started fighting. I picked it up quick and got to learn from some of the best guys. When I came in to train with Dan, I took a shot on him and I almost got knocked out by his hips when he sprawled. After that I was like, I have to stay here and work with these guys. Their greco and their clinch is a whole different game and whole different type of cardio. I made the right choice, 10-11 years later I can show all the tools I’ve learned.
SF: What’s on your training playlist?
Gonzalez: A little bit of Chalino Sanchez, some Sublime, I listen to pretty much everything that’s gonna get me motivated. I like listening to a lot of Mexican music, it keeps me close to my roots. When I was working construction that’s all I would listen to everyday so it puts me in that work mode mentality. I think music plays a big factor in fights, it affects the way your mood comes out. I like things a little more upbeat.
SF: How are you preparing for this fight with Curtis Millender specifically?
Gonzalez: I’m working with a lot of tall and lanky guys to try to get used to the range. He’s really quick as well so I try to work with really fast guys to try to get used to the speed. I don’t really make predictions, I just try to go out and put on the best fight I can to make them want me back in there again.
SF: Is there anything else you’d like to include for our readers?
Gonzalez: I’m pumped, I’m looking to get in there and put on another good showing. I have a big following here in Temecula so I want to give everyone a good show. I really want to get my hands on him, I’m ready.
See Fernando put his skills to the test against Curtis Millender at Bellator 137 on Spike TV Friday at 9/8C.