Welcome to the UFC: Erick Gonzalez

Erick Gonzalez
Erick Gonzalez victorious following a Combate Americas bout. Photo: Scott Hirano/Combate Americas

UFC Vegas 40, going down this Saturday, is headlined by Norma Dumont and Aspen Ladd in a featherweight fight. In the co-main event, veteran Andrei Arlovski will fight the rising Carlos Felipe in a heavyweight bout. Another veteran will be on the card — Jim Miller, entering his 38 fight inside the octagon. He was set to fight last month but tested positive for COVID-19. Now he’s fighting on this card against newcomer Erick Gonzalez.

Erick “The Ghost Pepper” Gonzalez
Standing at 5’11″
Fighting at 155 lbs (lightweight)
Fighting out of Los Angeles, California, US
Training out of Fight Science MMA
A pro record of 14-5
8 KO/TKOs, 1 Submission

How will Erick Gonzalez fare in the UFC:

From an entertainment standpoint, Gonzalez is a great addition to the UFC. From a skill perspective, he’s not likely to make too much of an impact. Gonzalez doesn’t have a win over anybody high level, but has fought and lost to good fighters. Losing to Rafa Garcia and Andrés Quintana is no shame at all. While Mexico doesn’t have a lot of elite fighters they have a lot of very though guys so at the very least he’s battle-tested.

What Gonzalez does well is, he’s always going to be in the fight. He doesn’t really excel in any one area, but is just someone you can’t be too relaxed against. Where he’s proved to be more capable of making an impact is when he solidifies a good top position. From there, Gonzalez throws some nasty elbows, as he has knocked opponents out before and cut guys wide open, leaving them in a pool of their own blood. On the feet, he has deceptive power but when he connects it’s often off of a lucky shot. He fights with his hands low and when he strikes it’s from his waist. Sometimes it’s hard to tell what he’s going to throw but usually, he’s extremely sloppy and telegraphed. Although sloppy, “Ghost Pepper” is dangerous when he comes forward with the output he throws from different angles.

More times than not Gonzalez will change levels and get the takedowns. Like his striking, his takedown attempts are not set up and he often just shoots in sloppy. He’s dangerous on the mat with his ground and pound but his jiu-jitsu is average at best. Off his back, he does struggle but at least is always moving trying to get up. He does wind up on his back quite often. His takedown defense is awful, easily letting guys in on his legs. Sanchez is fun and tough but that will only take you so far in the UFC.

Striking: C
Kickboxing: C
Clinch: C
Wrestling: C
Grappling: C
Striking Defense: D
Takedown Defense: D
Cardio: C-
Biggest Strength: Tough
Biggest Weakness: Defense

How he matches up with Miller:

Even though Miller isn’t the same guy he was years ago he’s not completely shot. In the last few years at least this is the biggest step down in competition Miller has faced. That said, it’s always a concern when it gets to the later rounds for Miller. This time he’s going against someone with a gas tank even worse than his, which is something he hasn’t seen since 2016. I like Miller to just take Gonzalez down and submit him. Gonzalez’s best bet is to take it to Miller early and knock him out. Miller though hasn’t been stopped by strikes since 2018 to Dan Hooker. Gonzalez is no Hooker and should be a simple test for Miller. Miller should easily beat Gonzalez here.

Bet I’d recommend is Miller ITD