MIAMI – Justin Gonzales hasn’t made it quite yet, but he thinks a win Friday could get him there.
Sure, Gonzales (12-0 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) has won an LFA title and sits unblemished through over a dozen professional fights. However, he’s still seeking that marquee victory that he can build off of. At Bellator 271, Gonzales sees that opportunity in front of him as he takes on Aaron Pico (8-3 MMA, 8-3 BMMA).
“This win can skyrocket my career,” Gonzales told reporters including MMA Junkie on Wednesday. “I think this puts me legit in title contention. It puts me in a No. 1 contender spot, steal some hype from him, just skyrockets me. … I knew he’s tough. I know he’s a gamer (and) puts it all on the line. He either puts people out or gets put out. Without a doubt, we thought this was a winnable fight. It’s a great fight and has a lot of reward behind it. We’re on board right away.”
Currently sitting atop the throne in the same division as Gonzales is undefeated titleholder A.J. McKee (18-0 MMA, 18-0 BMMA). At Bellator 263 in July, McKee defeated long-reigning champion, Patricio Freire, via first-round submission.
Immediately following the event, talks started of McKee moving up to lightweight. While McKee’s next fight has still yet to be booked, Gonzales hopes the champion sticks around long enough so they can meet inside the cage at 145 pounds.
“I f*cking hope so, man,” Gonzales said. “There’s been all these talks about A.J. McKee going up. I don’t want to leave (any) doubt that I’m the best in the world. I’m the best in the division. So a win here, I want to get (McKee) before he leaves. I don’t want to leave no doubt. I don’t want anybody questioning that, ‘Oh, you’re only the champ because he’s gone.’ I want to leave no doubt. I joined this game to be the best and fight the best, so whenever I leave, my legacy is etched in stone.”
“… He’s a gangster, bro. Much respect to him. He’s the real deal, but guess what? So am I. For now, hey, I’ve got to handle business. I’ve got to finish the fight for certain.”
Bellator 271 takes place Friday at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla. The main card airs on Showtime after prelims on MMA Junkie.