By his own admission 2020 was a difficult year for Bellator featherweight Justin Gonzales. Having already come into the year on a six month layoff, it was an additional seven months before he was finally able to fight due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
When Gonzales did manage to fight last July, he picked up a championship win over a very tough opponent that vaulted him into Bellator.
“Besides winning an LFA title (against Jake Childers), and some other little things, there wasn’t much going on for me in 2020; not much good anyway,” Gonzales told MMAWeekly.com. “I’m blessed to be back on track and getting a fight here in 2021 and getting back on the right path.
“I give that some guy credit. He’s tough and very skilled. His grappling is high level. I made one mistake and he got me in a bad series of submissions, which almost cost me the fight, but besides that I think I did what I needed to do and came out with the W, which is the important thing.”
With all the downtime he’s had the past couple years, Gonzales feels like he’s come a long way with his game and is a much better fighter than he was at this time last year.
“I think I’ve made tremendous differences in my game,” said Gonzales. “Having some time off allowed me to really focus on some areas that I didn’t get to focus on being in fight camps all the time.
“Being able to focus all the way around and become a better fighter. Focusing on every positioning, whether it’s my grappling, hands, my striking, putting it all together and it’s all leveled up.”
This Friday in Uncasville, Connecticut, Gonzales (11-0) will look to remain undefeated when he takes on Ty-Wan Claxton (6-2) in a preliminary 145-pound bout at Bellator 260.
“Ty-wan is tough, so I’ve got to be ready,” Gonzales said. “I’ve got to bring it. He’s coming guns blazing, which I’m ready for. I’m expecting that. I’m ready to beat him.
“If I’ve got to be more technical, then so be it. If I’ve got to be gangster and bully him, I’m ready for that too. He’s skilled though. Ultimately I feel I’m going to be too much for him, will get the stoppage, and then move on to the next one.”
Having lost so much time over the past couple of years to no fault of his own, Gonzales’ main goal moving forward is to be as active as possible.
“After this fight, win, lose, draw, I’m going to take a week off then I’d like to jump right back into camp,” said Gonzales. “I’d like to get as many fights as possible, wrap up this contract, then move on to the next one. I don’t think it’s crazy to get this fight and maybe two more by the end of the year.”