Gabriel Gonzaga has an opportunity to make an impact in the UFC Heavyweight division, as he is slated to face the number nine ranked Stipe Miocic at UFC on Fox 10. Gonzaga is in chase of his second UFC Heavyweight title shot and has earned two knockouts and one submission finish since rejoining the promotion.
Another point of interest is that Gonzaga is tied with Frank Mir for most UFC HW finishes at 11. Check out what Napao said about his next opponent:
“I really don’t know why he called me out,” Gonzaga told MMAFighting.com. “He’s above me in the rankings and asked to fight me. Either he’s scared to fight someone else or he believes I’m an easy win for him – and he’s wrong.”
“I believe I can beat anyone, but you have to have some luck when the time comes. I lost to Randy Couture because of an accident during the fight, and I believe things could have been different if I had better luck.”
It was unfortunate that the injury sustained in the match with Randy Couture had an influence on the bout, but it did happen because Couture kept landing clinch shots. In other words it was Randy’s punches that won the day.
I like the new Gabriel Gonzaga, he seems a lot more focused and has also sharpened his striking tools rather well. It will be interesting to see how he performs against Miocic.
“I try my best to be the most well-rounded fighter I can be to fight anyone, and I believe our styles matches perfectly,” he said. “Jiu-jitsu is always an option, but there’s no gi in MMA, so I always have to use my boxing and muay thai to open some spaces. I have way more experience in every aspect of the game, not only jiu-jitsu.”
Gonzaga had often received criticism during his first UFC tenure for standing with better strikers; something he seems to have worked through very well. Not only is his striking better, but he is taking guys down to look for chokes and holds.
“I wasn’t sure what did I want in the past,” he said on his retirement in 2010, “but now I know that I want to be the UFC champion. (Velasquez) is a tough fighter, but everybody looks up to the champion and studies his games,” he said. “He has some flaws in his game, and I’d need to be ready for this fight.”
Anyone think Gonzaga has a chance at even getting a title shot? Both Miocic and Gonzaga have been finished by strikes, although only once for Miocic and six times for Napao. Could the Croation wrestler/striker prove too much for the resurging Brazilian?