Looking back on his first round TKO of Jose Alday this past March at Combate Americas 33, bantamweight Gustavo Lopez notes a difference in attitude more so than technical skills that made for such a strong performance.
Lopez notes that when things are going well for him outside the cage that things tend to go well inside the cage and it showed in his win over Alday.
“Everything has been going pretty well; no issues, no drama; my mind has been so happy recently, and that was one of the biggest assets was that my mind was in a happy place,” Lopez told MMAWeekly.com.
“There’s a couple of photos of me smiling in the cage. It’s what I love to do. Everything just felt right.”
While his mental state helped him claim his first major MMA championship in the victory against Alday, Lopez feels there has been a big leap forward in one particular area of his game.
“My hands looked so much better than in previous years,” said Lopez. “In that fight I moved very well, striking looked very crisp, angles are going right and I finished that fight with a TKO.
“Overall I have a heavy pace, good pressure, great wrestling, but now people have to worry about my striking. I think that’s going to open up my takedowns even more. Now if you keep your hands down to try to stop my takedown I’ll hit you in the face. Now I give people more to worry about than just my wrestling.”
On Friday in Lake Tahoe, Nev., Lopez (10-4) will look to successfully defend his title for the first time when he faces Joey Ruquet (7-2) in the 135-pound main event of Combate Americas 42.
“I feel like in the first fight we had (in 2015), in the first round he felt like he was losing, so he pressured me a little forward, and then got taken down and pretty much got ran over after that,” Lopez said of Ruquet. “If it hits the ground I feel I’m deadly against anyone.”
Now that he’s a title holder, Lopez is looking forward to seeing how things shake out in the bantamweight division below him to determine who he faces in his next title defense.
“I want to continue to fight the best Combate has,” said Lopez. “I feel there are a lot of fighters in Combate that deserve a shot. I feel that people have to start fighting each other to get a shot at me.
“A lot of our 135ers are amazing fighters; they’re great, so just picking one is going to be hard. I feel we’re going to have a lot of great events with 135ers headlining the card, fighting each other to see who is going to fight for my title.”