This past February, bantamweight Chris Gutierrez picked up a split-decision victory over Timur Valiev at World Series of Fighting 28. And while he was pleased with his win, Gutierrez believes he could have made a better case for himself in the fight.
Thought he was able to sway the judges to his side with an effort to finish, it was the lack of actually finishing Valiev that Gutierrez is most critical of his performance in the fight.
“Not to make any excuses – I got the victory, and that’s all that matters at the end of the day – but I could have ended the fight, and that’s what got the referees to see it my way,” Gutierrez told MMAWeekly.com. “As far as throwing a submission or TKO, I was the closest one to that, and that’s why I got that decision.”
One thing that Gutierrez is pleased with is the fact that he’s able to step into a promotion like the WSOF and take his career to another level.
“If you want to be a professional athlete, your main goal is to be the greatest at what you do,” he said. “Fighting locally is awesome, but if you want to take a step up in your career, then of course it helps to step up in competition.
“I want to solidify my position as one of the better bantamweights out there. I’m ready to take the challenges. I’m happy to step up to WSOF and showcase my skills.”
In what must seem like déjà vu, Gutierrez (9-1-1) faces Valiev once again, this time at WSOF 33 in a main card 135-pound bout on Friday in Kansas City.
“I had no say in it,” said Gutierrez of the rematch. “Not even a week, but three days after the (first) fight, they wanted an immediate rematch. It is what it is.
“(Valiev) swings wild and gets you worried about his hands, and then he takes you down and lays on you with ground and pound and looks for the ref to stop it. He’s either going to come at me very aggressively or methodically; either way it’s going to be bad for him.”
Now that he’s made it to one of the biggest stages of MMA, Gutierrez is prepared to take his career towards a more calculated path.
“If I’m okay and I don’t take any punishment, and the money is right and the opponent is right, I’ll take another fight before the end of the year,” he said.
“At this point, you have to learn to be smart. It’s not so much as letting your ego take over and want to just take all these dumb fights against guys for low money. It’s a career. No one is looking out for you. You have to look out for yourself. That’s what me and my people are doing. That’s the way it goes.”