One of the great things about combat sports is it gives competitors who have fallen off the winning path a chance to get back on and make their career better than it was before.
MMA fans maybe on the verge of witnessing just that in the form of journeyman Fernando “The Menifee Maniac” Gonzalez, who submitted prospect Curtis Millender in the third round with a guillotine choke in their fight at Bellator 137 this past weekend. The victory over Millender is the latest in Gonzalez’s (24-13 MMA, 4-0 Bellator) run in the Bellator cage, which includes wins over Karl Amoussou, former WEC titleholder Karo Parisyan and former Dream champion Marius Zaromskis.
Is it time for a title title shot? Gonzalez would certainly like that.
In an interview with MMAJunkie, Gonzalez said he would like to fight the winner of the Douglas Lima vs. Andrey Koreshkov bout at Bellator 140, which takes place July 17. In the interview, the Menifee Mainiac said he is also willing to fight Paul “Semtex” Daley or Michael Page.
Although he’s only 31, Gonzalez has racked up a lot of mileage in his career. He made his professional mixed martial arts debut back in 2003 and won eight of his first 10 fights. Over the years hes fought for well-known organizations like WEC, Strikeforce and King of the Cage, as well as regional promotions.
Like any journeyman, Gonzalez has suffered his fair share of losses. Prior to joining Bellator he suffered a TKO loss to David Mitchell. Before that fight he dropped a split-decision to Max Griffin.
“I think I’m close to getting that title shot, if not the title shot next. I just want to fight big names. Whatever happens with Lima and Koreshkov, I’ll be ready for the winner. I’ve won four in a row now and no one else in the welterweight division has won that many in a row. I think I’m closest as far as the amount of wins that I have and how I’m winning. I’m coming to finish every time.”
I like the idea of Gonzalez facing Daley. Both fighters have a wealth of experience. Daley has powerful hands, which would be a good test for Gonzalez’s chin – the Maniac has only been knocked out twice. Semtex was originally supposed to fight Lima for the welterweight title and it wouldn’t surprise me if Bellator gave the English fighter the next crack at the title. Still, they may pit him against Gonzalez as a warm-up fight, which would allow the Maniac a chance to play spoiler.
A bout against Page would be the classic hungry prospect vs. veteran. While Page has done well as other prospects, Gonzalez would be the first major test of his career.
While some critics may not think Gonzalez is ready for a title shot, they can’t deny that he’s coming one of Bellator’s brighest stars in the welterweight division.