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Combate Americas’ Erick Gonzalez talks 2019 goals, Tito Ortiz’s ‘dumb’ commentary

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Brash young lightweight Erick Gonzalez wants to keep testing himself, but is also eyeballing a big pot of gold in the process.

A professional since 2015, Erick Gonzalez has been quietly racking up a record and reputation, mostly in his native California. After suffering a decision loss to Danny Ramirez in 2017, he earned back to back wins including a brutal finish to settle the score with Ramirez in 2018.

Despite suffering a setback in qualifying bout for the the Copa Combate one-night tournament against eventual winner Andres Quintana, Gonzalez managed to bounce back even harder with back to back wins, both of them being finishes. After his recent fight last month, I managed to catch up with Erick to see what future plans he has now that he’s got a hot hand again, as he’s one of the more promising talents of Combate Americas’ lightweight division.

Victor Rodriguez: So you’re coming off a pretty tough fight, round 2 TKO over Korean Gangster (Won Sik Park), and I wanna get your thoughts on how that fight went, in your estimation.

Erick Gonzalez: I knew he was gonna hit hard, I knew I’d break him. I thought I was gonna break him in the first, but he made it to the second round. That’s when I knew I had to turn it up. I had to take some damage but overall, but I know it couldn’t have gone more entertaining, in my opinion. That’s always my first thing, is entertain the fans. Also, win the fight, but you know, if you can’t make an interesting fight it’s not gonna any fun to watch, so I thought it went great to be honest.

VR: Well, what do you make of his bit of protesting at the end as far as the stoppage?

EG: The stoppage? I mean, honestly, he (referee Mike Beltran) gave him a warning He (Park) wasn’t moving, wasn’t responding, so if you’re not moving or responding and you got a warning, I thought it was a fair call. Because I knew what I was doing and I know once the ref gets next to you and says “hey, you have to move“, you better move. And Mike (Beltran) did everything according to the book, and I thought it was a fair stoppage. I thought it was a little lame that he couldn’t get up, unless he was that dazed. You know, I’m not entirely sure, but I rocked him pretty good and all those shots were landing when he was under me, under his chin. I could only imagine what he was going through in his head.

VR: You’ve had a busy 2019 so far, it’s two in the bag in three months. How soon you wanna get back in there, man?

EG: As soon as possible, man. If I can get back in there in three months, I wanna go for a title fight. I’ve got the most wins in Combate (Americas) right now, most wins at lightweight. If I can make that title fight happen, that’d be awesome. If not man, just line them up and I’ll be ready to go in three months.

VR: So what would be your target for the year? How many would you prefer for the totality of 2019?

EG: I’d like to finish out with at least three more fights.

VR: Damn, five in a year? That’s impressive, man. That’s a big challenge.

EG: Yeah, you know, it definitely is. But I think if I just stay active it’ll keep me on a straight and narrow path and let me do what I want to do. If I want to take all these guys out of the way I gotta make sure I do it as quick as possible. I gotta make a name for myself, I’m only 27. I’ll be 30 before you know it.

VR: Two years ago you had a really close decision loss to Danny Ramirez, you put an exclamation point on in the end of the rematch you had last year, any interest in perhaps having a third fight? You don’t really have any divisional rival, other than him, maybe.

EG: Yeah, I mean, he’s hit me up to see if we’d fight again, but I think I put an exclamation on it already. But he’s on a losing streak also, so I just think he needs to win some fights before I can fight him again. Then we can go from there, because I’m taking out these top-notch guys, it’d be kinda weird to just give him a rematch. This would be our third match, and I think I finished it pretty clearly in the second match.

VR: Combate Americas’ had the Copa Combate one night tournament for bantamweight in 2017, featherweights last year. Any rumblings you might of heard of it being in your division this year?

EG: From what I’m hearing, it’s the lightweight division. I wanna get in on that unless they’re trying to give me a title fight, because my contract just ended with Combate after this last fight. So I’m not even signed with anybody right now. I do want to re-sign with Combate, so whenever they’re ready to send those papers over I’ll be ready to sign. I know they wanna re-sign me also, so that’s in the works. But I really want to get into that Copa Combate (tournament), it sounds like it would be a blast. I feel like I can take on any of these lightweights, for sure.

VR: Right, so Tito Ortiz made his appearance at the event and it was announced that he had signed with the company, and you had some choice words as far as his commentary during your fight specifically. I don’t know you have anything to expand on that and why you felt that way or what it was about his commentary that you took exception to?

EG: He kept saying that I was playing possum and kinda faking it, getting hit in the nuts. I just kinda thought it was funny. And then to continue to say that he’s never been hit in the nuts during the fight. So I was like, “alright, well...” I mean, the other commentator, I forget his name... Not Tito, what was the other dude’s name?

VR: Max (Bretos)?

EG: Yeah, he kinda just said it for me. “Well, we’re asking the wrong guy...” and kind of laughed it off, but just comments like that, that were kinda dumb. I was like “you know, I went in there and I was fighting, putting on a good fight and I was in no way, shape or form playing possum.“ It’s just kind of ridiculous sometimes some things people will say. But it’s Tito. He’s a... he’s a knucklehead, in my opinion (laughs).

VR: Well, I mean...

EG: He’s a cool dude. I was a fan of him, man. I’ve always been a fan of his back then. He was a fuckin’ great. He was a slugfester back in the day, and part of my motivation for me fighting, so my hat’s off to him for creating a pathway for us, you know?

VR: Best case scenario, what happens next in your fighting career? What would be the ideal situation for you?

EG: As far as anything planned, there’s nothing really that’s presented itself right now. My managment team’s just kinda dealing with everything right now. I’m just sitting back and resting. I’m already back in the gym, I’m just not completely training or running again just because my foot took a little more damage in this fight. So I’m kinda just off my foot for about a week and then hopefully I’m able to get back in there. But nothing planned man, to be honest. I’m just waiting for that contract with Combate and then maybe we can get something started and I can get back in the ring soon as possible. If it’ short notice, I’ll take it. It doesn’t even matter. I’m just ready to get in there and and fight, man. I think I’ve proved enough that I can just... I’m a fighter, man. Watch any of my fights, you’ll see it’s not easy.

VR: Any message for the rest of the division?

EG: As far as the other guy that’s holding five wins, Rafa (Garcia)? I gotta take that title fight, man. That’s really what I’m waiting for. Let’s make it happen. I think we can get that in the works and get it done before the Copa tournament so I can get in there as well.