Justin Gonzales’ Bellator debut will consist of numerous unique circumstances. Bellator 260 will be the promotion’s return to sold-out crowds for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic and will be Gonzales’ first fight in almost a year due to injuries.
But he’s ready for the spotlight of competing on one of the highest stages in the sport in the Bellator featherweight division. He’ll face Tywan Claxton in his first test in this new venture in his combat sports career.
Gonzales spoke with LowKickMMA and was full of energy when discussing the improvements he’s made in his game after earning the LFA featherweight title last July. Gonzales says that fans should watch out for this under-the-radar fight at Bellator 260 and plans to overwhelm Claxton in the octagon.
“He’s a gangster,” Gonzales said when asked about Claxton’s style. “He’s a very good opponent. He’s good at what he does. Good high-level wrestler, southpaw. He comes at you with some flashy stuff. He’s very explosive. I gotta keep moving and I’ll know what’s coming. I’ve got some things in store for him as well. I’m so ready for this fight. I get my shackles taken off of me and it’s time to handle business.”
Before earning the contract with Bellator, Gonzales had competed on Dana White‘s Contender Series and came as close as you can get to earn a UFC contract, dominating Zach Zane en route to a unanimous decision victory. Despite being robbed of an opportunity from UFC president Dana White, Gonzales used this moment as motivation rather than wasting time feeling sorry for himself.
When Bellator president Scott Coker gave Gonzales the call that he wanted him to join his promotion, “J-Train” was ready to take on all comers.
“I feel like it was long overdue,” Gonzales iterated. “So whenever I get the opportunity, I’m going to actually have a little talk with Mr. Scott Coker and say “what took so long, man?”. I was running into an issue where I was running out of opponents. I was literally fighting the best I could against people that would actually take the fight. It’s a really interesting situation to be in. And so now just stepping up to the next level, I’m so pumped. I’m the best in the world at 145 and I’m ready to prove it.”
Gonzales will join a stacked featherweight division that includes double-champion Patricio Pitbull, along with top contenders AJ McKee and James Gallagher. A win over Claxton would cement Gonzales as the potential dark horse of the division.
Despite suffering from multiple injuries and the overall struggle of dealing with quarantine over the past year, Gonzales feels that his best performances are still yet to come.
“I’ve grown everywhere,” Gonzales said when asked about his nearly one-year layoff from fighting. “Maybe these kinds of injuries and COVID, and just having this long layoff was kind of a godsend.”
“If you’re not getting better, you’re getting passed.”
Do you think Justin Gonzales has what it takes to be a title contender in Bellator?