Bellator 296: Chris Gonzalez Tips Hat to Usman Nurmagomedov, Hopes for Another Shot at Current Champ

Chris Gonzalez is fighting outside the U.S. for the first time this Friday at Bellator 296 in Paris.

The Team Alpha Male lightweight looks to make it two in a row when he takes on Tim Wilde, the same night as one of the Bellator Lightweight Grand Prix quarterfinals goes down.

Gonzalez is no stranger to big fights himself. Last year, after landing a head kick KO on Saad Awad, Gonzalez found himself booked into a fight with Usman Nurmagomedov. He fell in the opening round, submitted by the man who would go on to win the title in his very next fight.

“He’s been nothing short of impressive. I’ve got to tip my hat to the man,” Gonzalez (8-2) told Cageside Press on the topic of Nurmagomedov during the Bellator 296 media day this week. “I think that he capitalized, and he caught me very early in that fight with that very slick submission. I didn’t respect it at first, and he really bladed his arm in there and he locked it up good. So I don’t want to take anything away from him. I think he’s been a dominant champion up until this point, and I’m looking forward to having another crack at it in future.”

The jaunt to Paris has given Gonzalez the chance to see a bit more of the world, and he’s taken advantage of that since arriving. “I’ve made a little bit of time already just to get kind of get out on the town and walk around, get the blood flowing,” he noted.

That helps, at least a little, by giving him something to focus on beyond the fight itself. “Yeah. Obviously I’m focused on the fight and that’s where my thought process is going to be at more often than not, but it’s nice to get out of the hotel room and see the world,” said Gonzalez.

As for the wrinkles travelling for a fight can create, “trying to catch up with the sleep is a little bit different,” Gonzalez admitted, noting that he worked on adjusting his sleep schedule on the plane ride to Paris. And so it was “a bit of an adjustment, but a nice challenge that I embrace, and it’s going well.”

Watch the full Bellator 296 media day appearance by Chris Gonzalez above.