When last we spoke with "The Menifee Maniac" Fernando Gonzalez, the two-time Bellator victor was preparing for his third fight in the promotion against Marius Zaromskis, arguably his toughest test to date in the Bellator cage.
Gonzalez was successful against the former DREAM champion, notching his third straight Bellator win and moving one step closer to a Welterweight title shot in the process.
With a Douglas Lima title defense announced for July against Andrey Koreshkov, Gonzalez will undoubtedly be watching the fight closely to scout a future opponent, but he has a more immediate opponent, Curtis Millender, to deal with at Bellator 137, which takes place this Friday night (May 15, 2015) inside Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, California.
Indeed, if Gonzalez secures a win over "Curtious," it would be hard to argue the four-fight winner doesn't deserve to face the Lima-Koreshkov winner next.
Gonzalez once again spoke with MMAmania.com about his upcoming match, which will be featured on the Spike TV main card, about his preparation for the fight with Millender, as well as his future prospects in Bellator's talented-rich 170-pound division.
"I train for the distance all the time, and it's just because you never know, it could be tomorrow that somebody gets injured and they say 'Hey Fernando you want to take the title shot?' I'd jump on that in an instant. I train myself to be ready for a five round fight."
Things did not go smoothly for Millender in his Bellator debut, but Gonzalez chalks that up to a late opponent change (he was originally scheduled for Michael "Venom" Page) and to it being his first fight for the promotion.
"I've been through that kind of experience where they switch your opponent, and then obviously you're fighting for a big big promotion, and the way he did (it) he kind of just jumped in there. He's dangerous, he got in there and fought against a top level guy (in Brennan Ward) on a big stage like he did right away. It didn't go his way but he did drop Brennan and that fight could easily have gone the other way had it been his night."
Few fighters, if any, look past their next opponent, but Gonzalez can still see a potential welterweight shot looming in the distance if things go according to plan.
"(It's) the way I'm winning, putting on a good fight every time, and I know that's what they're wanting to get out of us. I think whoever I fight against for that title is going to be an exciting fight, whether it be Koreshkov, Lima or even Daley I think it's going to be a great fight. Obviously, I gotta get through Millender first, he's a tough task, and I gotta get him out of the way first and we can go from there."
Getting turned up for fights is often built around opponents acting rude, arrogant and disrespectful, but when you're opponent's nickname is "Curtious" it may seem like there's no animosity to be had.
Gonzalez isn't worried about it.
"He seemed like a real respectful guy, but he's still gonna get in there to try and hurt me. The courteous is more than likely going to go away the day of the fight, so I gotta put my hands on him."
Bellator just announced a new bout for the undefeated Page (read more about that here), so if both Gonzalez and Page remain unbeaten in Bellator, a No. 1 contender eliminator match could be in their future.
"My biggest thing in joining Bellator was -- obviously everybody wants to go for the belt -- but my biggest thing is just to be able to compete against the top-level guys in the world. I've been doing this for so long that I just want to have those type of fights (like Page) and put my heart and my nuts on the line. If it's Michael 'Venom' Page or any of the top welterweights I'm training my ass off for every single one of them."
Gonzalez will put up more than his cajones on Saturday night -- his unbeaten record in Bellator is at stake, too, against Millender. The complete audio of our interview is below:
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