The roles are reversing for Chris Gonzalez in his second fight for Bellator MMA.
Gonzalez enters enemy territory when he takes on his Bellator 226 opponent Luis Vargas in his hometown of San Jose, California on Sept. 7. A product of Chicago, Illinois, Gonzalez defeated Charlie Radtke by unanimous decision at Bellator 221 in Rosemont, Illinois on May 11.
He is going from the hometown hero to a visiting foe.
“Now I get to come into someone else’s backyard and kind of ruin his homecoming,” Gonzalez said. “There’s a little less pressure in that regard compared to when you have all your friends and family because they’ve never seen you perform on a huge card like that.”
Avoiding the pressure of fighting is nothing new for Gonzalez.
Gonzalez brought an extensive resume to the cage when he became an amateur fighter in 2017. He wrestled for the Greco-Roman world team in 2016 and became a six-time Greco-Roman All-American.
He is staying away from the expectations and focusing on his training with Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. Gonzalez currently splits time between working two jobs six days a week and training full time.
Fighting is all business for Gonzalez
“I’m not really one to focus on the hype train,” he said. “I am just staying focused and staying busy.”
Gonzalez is currently undefeated at 2-0. His previous opponents’ records combine for 2-7.
Vargas is coming into Gonzalez’s next bout at 2-3 after losing by a second-round triangle choke to a Team Alpha Male teammate, Kaleio Romero. Gonzalez is not one to overlook losing records. He chooses to focus more on who his opponents fought rather then how the fight ended.
Radtke fell to 2-2 after Gonzalez earned the victory in his home state. Radke’s only other loss came to current UFC lightweight Austin Hubbard.
Hubbard suffered a unanimous decision to Davi Ramos at UFC Fight Night 152 on May 18, but is scheduled to fight against Kyle Prepolec at UFC Fight Night 158 on Sept. 14.
Vargas shares a similar past after losing his professional debut via first-round knockout to J.J. Okanovich. Okanovich recently defeated Christian Lohsen by unanimous decision on Dana White’s Contender Series on July 23. He did not receive a contract in the end.
All of Vargas’ defeats came to fighters with winning records.
“If you are going to look at a guys’ records and say ‘You’re fighting lesser competition because they have a losing record, a fight is a fight and you have to look at the quality of opponent they are fighting,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t really care, I’m going to fight whoever they put in front of me.”
Gonzalez is coming into his bout with little knowledge of Vargas. Vargas’ most recent bout was against Romero, which took place over a year ago on May 11, 2018.
Gonzalez is well aware the fight he watched is outdated.
“I can’t pretend I know him as a fighter because I really don’t,” Gonzalez said. “It’s hard to gauge that because a lot of the film I did see is a couple years old. He’s obviously been working and improving since then.”
He will not be alone in Sacramento. Gonzalez is only fighting about two hours away from where he trains and bartends. He expects to have supporters in the crowd.
His bout with Vargas brings a new obstacle of fighting a California native in his home state.
Gonzalez welcomes the challenge and focuses on what he can control. He wants to fight against Bellator’s main roster, but is in no rush to get there.
“I know Bellator has the right intentions, so I’m just going to roll with it,” Gonzalez said. I’ve been a lot more relaxed heading into this fight, taking everything in, listening to my body, not over training and just enjoying it.”