Nick The Ghost Gonzalez: Gearing up for Legacy FC 12

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Updated: July 2, 2012

Austin, Texas native Nick “The Ghost” Gonzalez recently took a few minutes to chat with me as he prepares for his next fight on July 13th.  With a professional MMA record of 18-10, Nick is set to square off against Rey Trujillo on the Legacy Fighting Championship 12 card at the Houston Arena Theatre in Houston, TX. 

Having already competed in a number of top MMA promotions (including Bellator, Strikeforce, and Elite XC),”The Ghost” is one of the more renowned strikers in the game today and is still chasing his dream of one day fighting in the UFC.  After spending some time in California training with the Alliance team and sharpening up his skills, Nick is now back home in Austin and continues to be one of the faces of the burgeoning mixed martial arts scene in the area.  We talked a little about his upcoming fight, his love of Austin, his work as an instructor, his future plans, and Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen. 

Q:  Can you give us some thoughts on your upcoming fight (who you’re fighting, what promotion) and how you are feeling at this point in your preparation?

A:  I will be fighting Rey Trujillo at Legacy Fighting Championships 12 on July 13th.  It’s going to be on HDNet, and as of now that is the fighter I am preparing for.  Rey has a fight on June 30th which I am actually going to be commenting on, and if he gets through the fight with no injuries and no medical suspension we will be fighting.  Right now in my head I am preparing to fight him, but if something happens with Rey I will have two weeks to prepare for a new opponent.  At the moment preparation is just kind of running over everything, just getting my striking ready because that is where I am going to have a big advantage over a lot of the guys that I fight.  When I am really sharp with my striking I am at another level and that’s just where I want to keep it. 

Q:  You have developed quite a fan base in Austin, Texas.  How do you feel about Austin as a home and a city for professional athletes?

A:  I love being here in Austin, in my opinion it is by far the best city on Earth.  There is really no other place like it and it is very unique in a lot of ways.  It’s almost like its alive man, there is just so much going on all the time.  During football season you can go see a game, we have concerts all the time, festivals going on, there’s Lake Travis, just a ton of things to do.  And of course there is the nightlife and Sixth Street. 

I think MMA training is finally starting to catch up and come around, and it is has definitely grown quite a bit over the last few years.  I am teaching kickboxing a couple nights a week at the Paragon Jiu Jitsiu School, and the manager and instructor are now black and brown belts, respectively.  I remember meeting them back in 2002 and we were all white belts at the time.  There are a bunch of schools around town and it seems that the fighters are developing.  What I think is really hindering the development here though is that everybody is cross-training (the fighters at least).  That is one thing I saw a lot of when I lived in San Diego and I was out at one of the gyms, Alliance.  They originally brought me out for Dominick Cruz’s training camp for the Brian Bowles fight, his trainer wanted someone who could pressure him and hit him, so that was me.  I ended up staying and being part of other camps, the last one I did was Urijah Faber.  Alliance is pretty much what it was and what the name is, it’s an alliance of fighters.

A lot of the guys from Alliance are the very top guys from the area.  I remember one time before the Nogueira’s opened up their gym, Junior Dos Santos, the Nogueira’s and a couple of the Brazilians were coming in.  You had what is the epitome of a professional fighter training practice, which means you have a bunch of bad-asses mixing in together.  Everybody’s got a different thing – you got good black belts, you got good wrestlers, you got good strikers.  All these MMA fighters are working and training together and they are all benefiting from each other, and I think the lack of this kind of activity is what the problem is here in Austin.                        

Q:  As you mentioned earlier you are an instructor at Paragon Jiu Jitsiu in South Austin.  Do you think teaching others helps contribute to your development as a fighter?

A:  Yeah it definitely does, what I am teaching them is realistic things that I have used or things they can benefit from.  I have a couple of guys who are looking to fight, but even just teaching people the basics and helping them develop their technique and correct mistakes.  You can pick up a lot of things when you are in front of another person and sparring with them, you are able to catch their mistakes a little quicker I think.  I train with Rudy Vasquez, and he’s got a couple of new guys who are looking to fight.  Some of the people I have sparred with recently in this new group of people he has, I have noticed that in certain situations that they drop their hands a lot, left-hand especially.  You are able to catch it quicker because that’s a thing that Rudy pointed out to me that I just see over and over again that people do.     

Q:  Do you think fighters that come from a wrestling background will continue to see success in MMA or is there another discipline that may also serve as a great starting point?

A:  The wrestling is a good base, and I think wrestlers can succeed very well when they develop their striking and other aspects of their game.  It really is the person to be honest.  Not everyone is going to be a Jon Jones.  You got guys like Ben Askren who are winning but are boring as hell to watch.  He is effective, but he just doesn’t have striking prowess that Jon Jones has. 

I think we are at the point now where anybody – whether it’s a wrestler, a good boxer, a good jiu jitsiu guy, when they can mix everything better than the other guy that’s when they are going be effective and win. 

Q:  What are the areas you consider to be your strong points? 

A:  My boxing and striking are definitely areas that I am stronger than a lot of people in.  I boxed right here for a Texas State title, I fought in Chuck Norris’s World Combat League, and I fought in K-1 in 2006.  My boxing and kick-boxing is what sets me apart from other fighters, and that is where I got my nickname “The Ghost” from, it was my pro boxing debut.  When my boxing and striking are sharp I am at another level man – I am faster, I hit harder than anybody, am just really accurate, very elusive, and everything just flows out really good.          

Q:  Where would you like to see yourself in the next few years?  Are you going to keep taking fights?

A:  The last goal of mine that I have left to attain before I quit fighting is to be in the UFC.  I think I got close once, but I really just want to go out under the UFC banner then retire, open a gym, maybe manage fighters.  I definitely don’t want to be 38, 39, or 40 years old taking fights because I don’t have anything else to do or because I have too.  I would like to get to the UFC and go out as a UFC fighter and then just kind of go from there.  I’m going to keep trying man –  I told myself I wouldn’t fight past 35 and I am 31 right now, so if I don’t reach the UFC by 35 we will see what happens. 

Q:  What advice would you give to young MMA fans, such as the 16 and 17 year-old kids wrestling in high school who may be considering taking that next step into MMA at some point?

A:  It’s all about the training, find a gym and start training.  It appears to be easy when you are sitting there watching it with your buddies and stuff, but getting in the gym and spending time learning and developing is really what’s most important.  Everybody’s tough that fights (in MMA), but you don’t want to be known as the guy that’s tough because I have seen a lot of tough guys get their ass whipped in fights.  You don’t want to be unprepared, you want to be developed as a complete mixed martial artist, and nowadays these younger guys can go into gyms and learn MMA, you know learn everything; not just boxing, not just  jiu jitsiu, not just wrestling.  I mean you got guys that are developing a full on game and are going to schools that teach MMA as a sport as an option.  So my advice would be just to get to a gym and start working at it.    

Q:  As a fan of MMA, any thoughts or predictions on the Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen fight coming up on July 7th?

A:  I really think Silva is going to demolish Sonnen.  I think Silva kind of let it go a little too long (being injured) last time, and I think really to prove a point he is just going to demolish him and prove that he is the pound for pound King, and to shut Sonnen up in the process.  Being the prideful person that Silva is and knowing that he wasn’t 100% last time, now that is I think he is going to go out and make a big statement and shut him up.       

 

Thanks again to Nick for his time and best of luck on July 13th.   

 

     

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