Coming into 2020, featherweight Chris Gutierrez knew it was going to be a little bit of time before he could step back into the octagon and build off the back-to-back wins he picked up in the UFC in 2019, even before the novel coronavirus forced the world into lockdown.
Following an injury to close out last year, Gutierrez admits his early prospects for 2020 weren’t looking good. He was able to get over his depressed state and get healthy in time for a return to fighting at UFC Fight Night: Woodley vs. Burns on May 30.
“Not only was the pandemic going on, but I was still recovering from the ACL injury I had sustained towards the end of 2019, so my year didn’t look so good,” Gutierrez told MMAWeekly.com. “I pushed through it, and came out of the state I was in, and I pushed forward.
“Ultimately I was in charge of my own future, and in charge of my destiny, and I managed to get back up, dust myself off and move forward.”
Thankfully Gutierrez recovered in time for him to be able to get in enough training to be ready for when he got the call to come back to the UFC.
“I got cleared in early February, so I had a good couple of months,” said Gutierrez. “Of course, I didn’t go balls to the wall, but I didn’t hold back either.
“I had time where I was a little afraid of things, but my coach talked me through it. He saw things I had to work on in order to get the green light. I was able to fix those things and it helped me in the fight and getting the win.”
On May 30, Gutierrez had his first fight in 10 months, picking up a second-round TKO of Vince Morales at UFC Fight Night, bringing his current winning streak up to three in a row in the process.
“I really don’t remember much about the fight,” Gutierrez said. “I wasn’t thinking; I was just reacting. I didn’t realize some of the stuff I did. I went back and watched the fight and surprised myself.
“Coming off an injury like that, going through the pandemic, you just start to think if it’s over and if I’m going to come back 100 percent, but I didn’t let myself be a victim. I just knew that I was meant for great things, so I pushed forward and let myself not be defeated, so I could obtain those things.”
While he’s eager to make up for lost time, Gutierrez wants to make sure he returns to fighting in a way that does not sacrifice long-term stability for immediate gain.
“Of course I want to get back in, and the UFC is putting on fights, so to say that I’m not going to fight again this year wouldn’t be true,” said Gutierrez. “I’m going to fight again, but I’m going to work on some things as far as myself and as far as my craft, so I’m going to take it day by day.
“I’m going to relax and enjoy the victory and get the rest up, then get back into camp, get back to the drawing board when I get back to training.”