Gustavo Lopez

Picture courtesy of Combate Americas

Gustavo Lopez on Heili Alateng fight and meeting Shaq

Gustavo Lopez takes on Heili Alateng in the preliminary portion of UFC Fight Night: Smith vs Spann. The bantamweight bout goes down on September 18th and emanates from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I spoke with Lopez ahead of this bout and the excerpts from our conversation are below.

Gustavo Lopez

Recent training efforts leading into this next Octagon foray

“It was my last day of sparring. Absolutely it was by far the best sparring of the whole camp. Things are just coming together lately. Throughout the training camp, I was sparring with Cody Stamann. That’s one of the top 15 in the world. And he’s been helping me so much. Just getting ready and getting such a high level of training partner. So we’re going to the fight, we’re going to go in there, and just feel so much better.”

The Cody Stamann training timeline

“It’s been developing for a while. He moved over to Xtreme (Couture) maybe a year or two ago, and we’ve slowly been training together. This camp, we just started sparring more together because it’s the perfect look. Heili’s a wrestler with good boxing. So we decided to bring the best out here.”

The multitude of fighters from the myriad of promotions he trains with at Xtreme Couture

“Exactly. Yeah, I’m very very blessed to have the opportunity. And just to have a family like that. To be able to have that kind of level of training partners. Because the whole plan is to be able to train so hard to make the fight look easy.”

UFC

The mentorship from Miesha Tate over the years

“Yeah, me and Miesha’s friendship has been going on for over 10 years now. Me and her have been training partners. She was actually my manager for a while, after she retired and then now obviously decided to come back. But yeah, the friendships that I’ve had with Miesha, with Bryan Caraway, with all my coaches. These teammates and training partners of mine.”

“Definitely a mentorship that Miesha definitely provides. She’s always been like that Mom figure that’s kind of just showing me the way. Making sure that things are done right. She’s a very headstrong woman that understands that you need to put in the hard work. To showcase how good you want to be in there.”

Generational martial arts teachings and creating a lineage of learning

“Anytime we get some new guys in the gym, I always want to help as much as possible. Because that’s the kind of way Miesha (Tate) showed me and the way Bryan (Caraway) and everybody that kind of had been helping me before. Another mentor of mine that I got who was able to help a lot was Joseph Benavidez. He was training with Xtreme Couture for a while and his level of guidance….Him understanding stuff. It’s just been amazing to have that kind of level of people to be able to help me.”

UFC Fight Night

The seemingly perpetual positivity on his social media platforms

“I’m actually just generally a happy dude. I worked so hard of making this lifestyle of mine work. I’ve been doing a lot of readings, doing a lot of listening to books. About controlling the mind, meditating, and there’s things that we have to do to just make us be grateful for the little things that we have. Waking up every morning, it’s an amazing thing. Being able to fight for the UFC and be able to still work with this crazy pandemic. There’s so much things to be grateful for and if you just think about stuff like that, it makes the day go so much better.”

The UFC PI for his growth

“It’s been amazing. The fact that the UFC fighters have that facility to work with. Also, the coaches and nutritionists, the doctors, everybody’s sole purpose in there is to make you better. From the nutritionists, the doctors, the strength and conditioning coaches, the physical therapists. We build a friendship with them. They’re actually family to us now. Because without them like there’s days where you get a little hurt and they fix you up. You have problems with your weight, the nutrition, the strength and conditioning coach Bo (Sandoval) has been an amazing asset.”

Gustavo Lopez continues, “I feel so much stronger than I’ve ever felt. I’m actually in the best shape I’ve ever been. I’m already getting ready to fight like, usually I cut from 51 the week of. I’ve been walking around at 51 for the past three weeks. Just maintaining it and just feeling great. Usually, I’ve got to diet down and then cut from 51. But now we’re planning on getting down to maybe 45 or 47 the week of the fight. Just slowly get there and do the weight cut that one night. Just make the weight really easy and rehydrated up.”

UFC Fight Night: Smith vs Spann

Thoughts on Heili Alateng’s big stylistic attributes heading into this one

“I feel like it matches me well. Him being a wrestler that wants to strike is great for me because that’s my game, you know. I’m the wrestler that wants to strike as well. So we’re gonna see who can implement their game plan first. And I am telling you, I’m in shape and feel amazing right now. Absolutely killing it right now. So I’m excited.”

Meeting Shaq at the UFC PI and the backstory there

“I was at the PI just doing my recovery the other day. He just shows up, he literally just showed up. I’m not sure what he was doing at the PI…Just walked in and just kind of like ‘hey can I get in the Whirlpool and then the ice bath?’ I said yeah and kind of just let him do his thing for a minute and then we slowly started talking. He asked a couple of  questions like, ‘man, how do you do that? How do you fight and do that?’ I’m like the same way you play ball. It’s something we love to do. I just go out there and I’m blessed to be able to do something that I love.”

Parting thoughts for Gustavo Lopez

“Just for the people out there listening and having a hard time right now, it’s really important to be grateful for the good things that we have in our life. Just enjoy the good times while we can.”

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