Greeley fighter Justin Gonzales doesn’t plan to be fazed by recent loss, hostile territory as Bellator 279 approaches – Greeley Tribune

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Justin Gonzales doesn’t really mind getting into a fight with an arena full of people rooting against him.

But when he does just that this Saturday in Honolulu, Hawaii, he plans to make sure that at the end of his night, at least some of those fans put aside their civic duty long enough to acknowledge that the “J- Train” is a ride that is moving steadily again, with plenty of room for passengers.

Gonzales — a Greeley native and Northridge High School and University of Northern Colorado alum who adopted the nickname “J-Train” throughout his fighting career — takes on Kai Kamaka III, a native of Hawaii at the Bellator 279 mixed martial arts event, which begins at 6 p.m. Saturday at Blaisdell Arena.

Gonzales carries a 12-1 record (1-1 in Bellator) in his 145-pound bout against Kamaka II (9-4-1, 3-0 in Bellator). They will face off on the preliminary card, which can be watched live on Pluto TV and YouTube.

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 25: (L-R) Justin Gonzales hits Zach Zane in their featherweight bout during Dana White's Contender Series at <a class=UFC Apex on June 25, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/DWCS LLC)” width=”612″ data-sizes=”auto” src=”https://i0.wp.com/www.greeleytribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/GRE-L-GonzalesFightAdvance-BF-2.jpg?fit=620%2C9999px&ssl=1″ srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/www.greeleytribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/GRE-L-GonzalesFightAdvance-BF-2.jpg?fit=620%2C9999px&ssl=1 620w,https://i0.wp.com/www.greeleytribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/GRE-L-GonzalesFightAdvance-BF-2.jpg?fit=780%2C9999px&ssl=1 780w,https://i0.wp.com/www.greeleytribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/GRE-L-GonzalesFightAdvance-BF-2.jpg?fit=810%2C9999px&ssl=1 810w,https://i0.wp.com/www.greeleytribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/GRE-L-GonzalesFightAdvance-BF-2.jpg?fit=1280%2C9999px&ssl=1 1280w,https://i0.wp.com/www.greeleytribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/GRE-L-GonzalesFightAdvance-BF-2.jpg?fit=1860%2C9999px&ssl=1 1860w”/>
LAS VEGAS, NV – JUNE 25: (L-R) Justin Gonzales hits Zach Zane in their featherweight bout during Dana White’s Contender Series at UFC Apex on June 25, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/DWCS LLC)

For perhaps the first time in his budding MMA career, the 30-year-old Gonzales might be seen by some as a slight underdog.

He is coming off the first loss of his professional career – falling to Aaron Pico by unanimous decision on Nov. 12 in Hollywood, Fla. at Bellator 271. And, he’s also venturing into enemy territory, as the fight unfolds in Kamaka’s home state.

Gonzales said he plans to use it all as fuel, determined to get back into the win column.

“The odds are kind of stacked against me right now,” Gonzales said. “Obviously getting out of an ‘L’ and now going into hostile territory (Kamaka) is going to have some support from the hometown people. But, you know, as the fight goes on , I’m gonna smash it in. I think some of those fans are gonna turn around and they’re gonna become my fans.

LAS VEGAS, NV – JUNE 25: (RL) Justin Gonzales hits Zach Zane in their Featherweight bout during Dana White’s Contender Series at UFC Apex on June 25, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/DWCS LLC)

In the cutthroat sport of MMA, there is perhaps no better display of a fighter’s character than when he or she reacts to a recent loss.

Gonzales has been training feverishly over the past two months to prove he has moved on and grown from that heartbreak he felt last November in Florida.

“I took (this loss) quite personal,” Gonzales said. “But sometimes you take a loss and you come back stronger. It kind of reminds you of certain things and sets your ass on fire. I really feel like a better fighter. I feel like I’ve evolved. I grew up. It made me stronger as a person, made me stronger as a fighter. I grew a lot thanks to that. »

LAS VEGAS, NV – JUNE 25: Justin Gonzales prepares to fight Zach Zane in their featherweight bout during Dana White's Contender Series at UFC Apex on June 25, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Chris Unger/DWCS LLC)
LAS VEGAS, NV – JUNE 25: Justin Gonzales prepares to fight Zach Zane in their featherweight bout during Dana White’s Contender Series at UFC Apex on June 25, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/DWCS LLC)

Still, Gonzales knows he won’t be quite the unanimous favorite when he enters the Blaisdell Center this weekend – not in the eyes of some pundits, but certainly not in the eyes of the partisan crowd of around 8,000 fans. .

Don’t confuse the light underdog mentality Gonzales may have with a lack of confidence.

“Kai is tough, man,” Gonzales said. “I have to make sure I’m on. I just think as long as I do what I always do, I think I’m a better fighter, a better striker, a better grappler. And I think I can dictate where the fight goes and do what I want to do… As long as I do that, there’s no doubt in my mind, I’m going to raise my hand at the end.

Bobby Fernandez covers sport for the Greeley Tribune. Reach him at (970) 392-4478, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @BobbyDFernandez.


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