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· On The Spot ~ Ulysses Gomez

· Article author: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Posted on 08/19 at 11:53 AM

When the Bellator bantamweight tournament begins, eight prospects will be vying for a shot to become the organization’s first-ever 135-pound champion. The least experienced of the bunch, Ulysses Gomez, has emerged as an early favorite in the draw based on his elite grappling skills and training with top fighters: Jake Rosholt, Johny Hendricks, Shane Roller, and Bellator season two middleweight entrant Eric Schambari. Gomez, the current Tachi Palace Fights flyweight champion, will be making the move from 125 pounds to 135 pounds for the shot to be seen across the country.

Gomez, who will open up his tournament run against Travis Reddinger on September 2, recently sat down with MMASpot.net to discuss signing with Bellator, his chances in the tournament, and his U.S. national soccer team brother.

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Why did you decide to sign with Bellator?
That’s a good question. At first I wasn’t too sure, just because of the whole moving up in weight, but the more I thought about it, fighting at 135 I think will suit me better than most of the guys that fight at 135. Just because I shouldn’t struggle as much as they do to make the weight class. It’s a great opportunity to go out there and show the world what I can do, because it’s going to be on TV. I love fighting for Tachi Palace, but it’s kind of like a local show.

Do you consider yourself a favorite in the tournament?
Do I consider myself a favorite? No. Do I think I’m going to win the tournament? Yes. I don’t think I’m a favorite in my eyes, just because I’m the smallest guy—height-wise and weight-wise—and I have the least experience. But I like feeling that so I can prove people wrong.

Who do you see as your biggest competition in the draw?
Right now my biggest competition is Travis Reddinger. He’s the guy that they want me to fight, and I can’t look forward or past him until I beat him. Once that fight happens, then I can take it from there. If I don’t get past Travis, whoever I fight after that doesn’t matter.

What do you know about Reddinger?
Besides his name and his record, not too much. He’s lanky—I’ve seen one or two of his videos but other than that I don’t really know too much about him. I’ll find out firsthand how good he is on September 2.

How will moving up a weight class from 125 to 135 pounds affect you?
I don’t think it’s going to affect me as much as everybody thinks. I fight at 125, yes, but I’m a really big 125-pounder. I walk around in the mid-150s to make that weight. I have to cut a lot of weight to make 125. Travis is 5’11”, so he’s going to have a tough time making 135. I’m 5’5”, so I am giving up some height, but I think come fight time I’ll have an easier cut, so that’s just going to make my performance better.

Do you think that training at a top camp like Cobra Kai, with a noted trainer like Marc Laimon, will help you in the tournament?
I train at Cobra Kai and Striking Unlimited—I have one of the top grappling schools in the nation and one of the top boxing schools in the nation. I think it’s definitely going to help me, because I don’t think that Travis has the training partners that I have, but we’ll find out for sure come fight time. Just training with Johny Hendricks, Shane Roller, Jake Rosholt, Chris Holdsworth (who is a real good up-and-comer), and Simpson Goh (who is a black belt), those guys beat me up every single day so I don’t really think Travis is going to do something that they haven’t already done.

What do you think about the WEC possibly adding a flyweight division? Is that somewhere that you would like to compete?
It can only help the sport. I’d like to have every major show have all of the weight classes, not just the WEC. The more weight classes you have the more opportunities it gives for smaller fighters to showcase our skills. I don’t care where it is, it just gives me one more place where I can go out there to showcase my skills.

Is there anybody in MMA, regardless of weight class, that you’d really like to face?
I don’t know about face, but to train with there are a lot of people—GSP, Fedor, B.J. Penn. But as far as face, I don’t pick my fights—they just tell me who to face and I fight that guy.

You were a very accomplished grappler before you ever entered MMA. How did you make that transition?
I took it in steps. I’m a firm believer that you have to crawl, then walk, then run, and then sprint. I started grappling—I did like 70 or 80 grappling tournaments, then I started doing boxing, then I started with pankration—which is like amateur MMA. I don’t really believe that there is amateur MMA right now, because some shows that are “amateur” are pretty much pro rules just without the guys getting paid. The fighters get taken advantage of in that aspect, but I think with pankration since you can’t punch to the face, you can look at it and tell it’s amateur. I got pretty good at that, and then once I got pretty good at pankration I decided to make the leap into MMA.

Your brother, Herculez, is a member of the U.S. national soccer team. How does that affect you having a sibling representing your country in another sport?
It’s a world sport, soccer. It’s the most popular sport in the world, but it’s also a team sport. The downside is that he might have played a great game, and the rest of the team might not, and they lose, and vice versa. You’re only as good as your teammates. The same thing goes with fighting—you’re only as good as who you train with.

Tell me about your nickname, “Useless.”
I got it when I was younger. People had a tough time pronouncing my name, and finally somebody said “Useless” and everybody thought it was funny. When I went for my first fight they asked me my nickname and I put “Useless.” I think some people take themselves too seriously. Just because we’ve signed up to fight doesn’t mean I have to hate my opponent. I think we should have fun while we’re doing it. If you’re not having fun, then you’re not doing something you love, then why are you in the sport?

Anybody else you’d like to thank or anything you’d like to say to your fans?
Everybody who has been there with me from day one, they know who they are, and they know how much I appreciate them. I want to thank Striking Unlimited and Cobra Kai for getting me in shape. As far as my fans, I don’t really think I have that many fans because people haven’t seen me fight, but I’m definitely excited to get more fans. I want to show them that the Lord has blessed me with a lot of skill that he has given to me for a reason, and hopefully people, when they see me fight, they’ll see the skills I have.

 

 


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