Far from useless: MMAmania interview exclusive with flyweight Ulysses Gomez

Photo via prommanow.com

Ulysses Gomez is one of the better non-Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) flyweights in the world.

Being forced to compete at higher weight classes, the dangerous athlete has continued to have success and even held multiple championships at 125- and 135-pounds for Tachi Palace Fights in California.

"Useless" was slated to compete on this weekend's Tachi Palace event at 125 pounds, but was forced to pull out because of injury.

Thankfully, the Mark Laimon Cobra Kai-trained fighter's interview with MMAmania.com was interesting enough that it stands on its own. I spoke to Gomez about his goals as a Flyweight, the importance of family, his doubts and even his opinion on steroids and testosterone replacement therapy in MMA.

Check it out:

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): After you lost the title for Tachi at flyweight, you took a couple fights at bantamweight, how come?

Ulysses Gomez: Actually the first fight I had was at 135 but it was originally supposed to be 125. Long story short, they said he couldn't make 125 and asked if I could do it at 130 and I said, "Whatever, I don't care," and then they came back and said, "Can you do it at '35?" and I said, "I don't care, we could do it at 141, it doesn't matter to me at all. After I fought Drew Brittner, I told myself I would go fight at 125 regardless and I was planning to go to 125 in December but Tachi Palace called me and said they had a guy at 135 who needed an opponent and if I wanted to do it. They needed me so I took it and I won.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): If all things go well, are you hoping to just stay at flyweight for the forseeable future?

Ulysses Gomez: Yeah, 125 is always where I belong. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I've been the number one guy before at 125. At 135, I'm just another guy, you know?

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I can remember when you fought in the Bellator tournament and the guy was way bigger than you but you were so scrappy that you eeked it out anyway.

Ulysses Gomez: Yeah, I'm of the belief that technique always prevails but when I fought Cody Gibson in my last fight, I definitely got beat up for two and a half rounds and then I got the guillotine so it is what it is.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I want to discuss your goals for the future.

Ulysses Gomez: My goal is to make money. You hear people say they'll fight for free and I'm sure if you've got all your bills paid for, you can fight for free but until then, you're fighting for money. When I started in this sport, I told people I was the best 125 pounder out there. Unfortunately I have two losses so I have to go back and beat those guys that beat me before I can say I'm the best 125 pounder but that's my goal as far as that.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Well there's no better platform to showcase yourself at 125 than Tachi Palace.

Ulysses Gomez: Well I've always felt like Tachi Palace was the UFC of the 125 pound division before the UFC got their own flyweights. I always felt that any given moment they had 5-6 top 10 guys in the world at 125 on the roster. They were the best show out there trying to show guys. Now that the UFC has it, it's more of a better platform to go out there and show what we have to the world. I want to be the best whether that means me beating everybody at Tachi Palace and moving to the UFC. If someone says they're better than me, I want to prove that they're not.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What goes through your head once the cage doors close, they're getting ready to announce you and you're staring down your opponent across the cage before a fight starts?

Ulysses Gomez: I'm a bit different before fights. I think about my family. Like in my last fight against Cody, my older brother popped in my head and sometimes I can hear my mom yelling which is kind of weird and I'm like, "Come on mom, would you shut up?" (laughs). Ultimately, my goal is to not hurt anybody. We are a hurt business, but I've got a style and a goal to get in there and get the job done as soon as possible.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): In terms of not wanting to hurt people, is that something you can credit as to why so many of your victories are by submission or is that a coincidence?

Ulysses Gomez: I don't know man. I have some good submissions so that's what I go to. There was one fight where I had a guy in a tough situation and I was elbowing him and I thought, "Let's switch to something else," so I did, but it comes with the territory I guess.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I know you have the one prefight ritual where you wear your brother's soccer team jersey, but do you have any other little things or superstitions that you have to do before a fight backstage or something on fight day?

Ulysses Gomez: Ultimately, I work a full-time job and I always stop working the Sunday before a fight. When I get off the plane and land, my goal for that day, I always fly in the day before weigh-ins so if we fight on Thursday and weigh-ins are Wednesday, I'm gonna get there on Tuesday and my goal that day is just to hang out and have fun, not expend too much energy. On Wednesday my goal is to make weight and then after that to rehydrate and recover and then the next day is the day of the fight. On fight day, I hang out in the pool and I always have lunch before the fight and then that's it. I go to my hotel room, get whatever I need and then I go to the venue. Once I'm there, I don't talk to anyone except my mom, girlfriend, tell them I love them and after that I don't talk to anyone.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Can you talk about the support you've received from your family? I know your brother and especially your mom are there for you and not every mixed martial artist is that lucky.

Ulysses Gomez: Yeah it's interesting before the fight where you're thinking, "Why am I doing this? I could be flipping burgers at McDonald's and maybe making more money," but I realize that I'm doing this because I love the sport and I want to be the best. I tell myself, regardless of the fight, I've got my family behind me. Regardless of the outcome, they are always there to support me. It relieves a lot of the stress because I don't have to go out there and try to win. I just have to go out there and just be me and if the guy beats me because he's better than me, there's no shame in that. It's always nice to know that my family will always be there. Some of my friends ask me if I'm nervous but I just tell them, "If the worst thing you ever do in your whole life is to lose one fight, I think you've lived a pretty good life."

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Do you ever have doubts? Do you ever get scared about anything?

Ulysses Gomez: Everybody has doubts. They doubt whether they've trained enough. I think it's natural. Our sport is so unpredictable that you're going to natural have doubts about whether the fight is going to go the way you want and if you prepared the right way. That's a doubt right there. As far as being scared, you're going out there half-naked and potentially getting beat up, that's always kind of scary but I'm more afraid of not performing to my capabilities. That scares me. If I don't perform like I know I should then that's something that doesn't sit well with me.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You were recently pretty outspoken about drug tests and steroids so I was wondering if I could ask you about it. Do you think test standards are high enough or would you like to see more? What would you do if you were in charge of the situation?

Ulysses Gomez: Well, I'll tell you one thing. I've had three title fights and I've had 11 total professional fights and I've only been tested once. I don't know what the odds are but one in 11 tests is not that high. As far as performance enhancing drugs, if you play baseball, basketball, soccer, you drive NASCAR, if you do steroids or something, I don't agree with it but at least then you're only hurting yourself. Yeah, you're hurting the other person because you're taking food out of their mouths if you beat them but that's as bad as it gets.

If you do steroids in boxing, football, wrestling, MMA, any contact sport, you are literally hurting that other person. That's when I have a problem with it. It might not sound okay to say steroids are fine in one sport and not in another sport but that's how I see it. I want the guy to beat me because he's naturally a better guy or he's trained better. Not because he takes steroids that allow him to stay in the gym for an extra three hours. It shouldn't come down to my doctor being better than his and testosterone levels. That's where I have problems with steroids.

I had a conversation with my buddy about Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) and I said that's still cheating. If I'm fighting Dan Henderson and he's 41 years old and has been wrestling for 30 some years. My advantage against him is I'm quicker and I have youth on my side so I can recover faster. His advantage is he has experience because he's been wrestling for 30-some years. If he takes testosterone therapy, now he has the same exact levels of testosterone as I do so now he can recover faster. There's nothing that I can take that will give me 30 years of wrestling so why should he be able to take something that makes him feel 26 years old? That's not fair at all.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): My last question, you were the first Tachi Palace flyweight champion and Ian McCall vacated his title to come to the UFC. What would it mean for you to get another shot at that title?

Ulysses Gomez: Well I was the first Tachi flyweight champion but I was also the first person to lose the belt. I was the 135 pound champion too. I really want to be champion at flyweight again. Another thing about Tachi Palace champions is they end up in the UFC. Michael McDonald was the 135 pound champion. Eddie Yagin just beat Mark Hominick and he was the Tachi Palace 145 pound champion. John Alessio had a good fight and was a former Tachi Palace champion so being a Tachi champion means a lot. It means you're right there and you could be the cream of the crop. I would love to get the belt back. I'd have to have to vacate the belt right after winning it if I get called to the UFC but I guess that's a good problem to have, right?

Ulysses would like to thank his team at Cobra Kai and all his training partners. You can follow him on Twitter @UselessGomez.

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