Erick Gonzalez is back in action later this month, taking Darrius Flowers at UFC Vegas 70 on February 25.
“Ghost Pepper” had made some changes ahead of this camp, including working with CMMA to shore up his already solid grappling game.
“CMMA has a lot of really good grapplers, a lot of good wrestling, so I was going in there to help me upgrade my grapping even more,” Gonzalez (14-7) told Cageside Press in a recent exclusive interview. “I really went in with attention to that, and there’s a lot of guys in there that I can work with.”
“It’s been really good, man. It’s probably one of the best camps I’ve had so far,” Gonzlez later added, speaking on his fight camp for Flowers.
Gonzalez’s last outing came against Terrance McKinney, and did not go his way, ending in a submission loss inside of a round. As for what he learned from the fight, “I did everything I was supposed to. No excuses, he was the better man that night,” said Gonzalez. “I just made a small mistake, kind of spaced out on my grappling for some reason.”
That’s something that “never happened [before], it was the first time,” continued Gonzalez. “I think that’s a lot of the reason I wanted to start upping my grappling game even more, working with guys that are high-level guys as well, so I don’t make that same mistake again. I’ll be more aware, and won’t have that spaced-out moment that for some reason I had for that fight.”
In Darrius Flowers, Gonzalez expects a tough opponent, one who has competed in a number of different sports over the years.
“He’s got some boxing fights, I know that. I know he played some college ball, so he’s going to have some power, some strength on him. As far as his grappling, his striking, I’ve seen what he has to offer, to bring to the table,” Gonzalez observed. “He’s got that one-[punch] knockout power, I don’t think he’ll have the gas tank, and I know he’s dropping down to 155 for the first time in his career.”
If you know the fight game, you know those 15 pounds aren’t easy, Gonzalez added. “It’s not that I’m not worried, but my confidence is very high going into this fight.”
Coming into the fight at 0-2 in the UFC, there’s the question of pressure. “That’s been kind of the biggest question for everybody: do you have to win this fight?” Gonzalez noted. “You’re two losses in a row in the UFC. That pressure does kick in a little bit, but I’m working with a mental coach this time around, and it’s been getting my head even in a better spot than it already was.”
“I’ve never been a big mental kind of doubt guy in my life or in my persona, and I’m not going to start now. For me it’s just another fight, just go in there, win, make it a fashionable win, try to get that bonus if I can, so I can just start getting a W and get this 2023 rolling in my favor.”
Watch our full interview with UFC Vegas 70’s Erick Gonzalez above.