Chris Gutierrez is looking to return to form in his upcoming bout at UFC Fight Night 148, and he knows that he needs a clear mind to do so.
“El Guapo” didn’t get the result he wanted in his promotional debut. Sharing the Octagon with Raoni Barcelos at The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale, Gutierrez was on the losing end of a bloody battle. In the second round, Gutierrez found himself on his back, getting rained on by strong ground and pound strikes from Barcelos. Attempting to survive, he wound up leaving his back open for taking. Barcelos capitalized, and Gutierrez tapped, putting an end to his first UFC fight.
The 12-4-1 fighter now has a chance to get back in the win column when he squares off against UFC newcomer Ryan MacDonald in Nashville. Gutierrez spoke to John Hyon Ko of The Body Lock to talk about his ongoing personal battles, the upcoming fight and his training at Factory X.
Issues outside of the cage
Leading up to his fight against Barcelos, Chris Gutierrez had more than just his opponent on his mind. He was in the middle of a custody battle with his ex-girlfriend over their young son.
As much as he tried to focus on the task at hand, Gutierrez’s emotions got the best of him.
“I just kept seeing all these dads with their kids, and man, it just broke me down mentally inside,” Gutierrez said. “Leading up to the fight, I was just thinking about my son the whole time and just thinking about like, man, what’s going to come with it? Like, am I ever gonna get custody of my son?”
Not having his mind in the right place proved to be an issue once “El Guapo” stepped into the cage.
“That plays a big factor, and a lot of people don’t understand that,” Gutierrez said. “They just think that, you know, as a fighter, everything’s good. You just walk into the cage and you fight. I wish it was that easy.”
Not wanting a repeat of his last appearance, Gutierrez has made a point of focusing on the mental side of things before his fight on Saturday in Nashville.
“Unfortunately it takes that to understand and to realize what you have, and I don’t take it for granted now,” Gutierrez said. “I’m going into this fight very mentally prepared, and I’m excited and I’m ready for it.”
Training at Factory X in Colorado
Factory X is quickly becoming a hotbed of talented fighters. The gym most recently saw its fighter Anthony Smith challenge Jon Jones for UFC gold.
Gutierrez is excited to be a part of Factory X’s rise to prominence.
“I train with the best team in the world at Factory X,” Gutierrez said. “It’s a kill-or-be-killed gym, and every day it’s a grind, and I’m so blessed to be where I’m at with them.”
Being able to train with top-tier competition has helped sharpen the UFC bantamweight’s game.
Gutierrez also enjoys the presence of coach Marc Montoya and the messages he gives to the fighters. He particularly likes Montoya’s theme of “trust the process,” a phrase Gutierrez often puts as a hashtag in his Instagram posts.
“He always says his job is to make you a better man, because when you become a better man outside of the gym, everything inside the gym just falls into place,” Gutierrez said.
Welcoming Ryan MacDonald to the UFC
In just his second UFC fight, “El Guapo” will undergo a change of roles. Now he is the one with Octagon experience as he welcomes MacDonald to the promotion.
MacDonald sports a perfect 10-0 record. The 25-year-old fighter makes the jump to the big stage after winning by second-round submission in his first Legacy Fighting Alliance appearance.
Gutierrez is unfazed by MacDonald’s achievements up to this point.
“I don’t give two shits about him,” he said. “I don’t care who it is. I respect him for getting in there with me.”
From the tape he’s watched, Gutierrez believes that his opponent has “a lot of holes in every part of his game,” and he plans to exploit them wherever the fight goes.
Above all else, Gutierrez has narrowed in on his own preparation, both physically and mentally.
“At the end of the day, it’s just me in there,” Gutierrez said. “It’s not no opponent. It’s me versus me.”
Shane Connelly is a journalism student at Penn State with a passion for sharing the stories of MMA fighters.