Bellator 260 takes place on Friday night with Douglas Lima putting his welterweight belt on the line against the undefeated Ukrainian Yaroslav Amosov. One of the most ferocious contests on the card is between two exciting fighters in the promotion, Justin Gonzales and Tywan Claxton is a must-watch.
I had the pleasure of speaking to undefeated prospect Justin “J-Train” Gonzales, who makes his well-deserved debut in the promotion. He and I talked about his journey towards his first Bellator appearance.
Justin Gonzales vs Tywan Claxton Fight Preview
J-Train is looking to extend his unbeaten run by defeating Claxton on Friday night. From amateur to professional Gonzales has won all 20 fights he’s competed in. After turning into a pro in 2016 and fighting for Colorado’s own Sparta Combat League, he never looked back defeating all the nine opponents he faced in the three years with the promotion.
Gonzales defended his Sparta featherweight title four times before appearing on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2019. An impressive performance over Zach Zane wasn’t enough for the UFC President to award Gonzales a UFC contract. It’s safe to say White has missed out on a golden acquisition.
Just over a year later, he was called upon to compete for the vacant featherweight title in LFA against Jake Childers. A strong three rounds led to a finish in the fourth for Gonzales, with deadly strikes landing on Childers to win the belt on his debut. The killer instinct and dominating factor of Gonzales’ performances caught the eyes of Bellator, who called him up to face Claxton this weekend.
After an undefeated amateur career of seven wins, Claxton made his professional debut at Bellator 186 in 2017. A stunning flying knee saw him finish Jonny Bonilla-Bowman inside one minute and 29 seconds. Three more finishes came his way in his next four fights, dominating the three of them with a ground & pound finish.
His first career loss came at the hands of Emmanuel Sanchez, who choked out Claxton inside the second round at Bellator 226. One more win under his belt, and he found himself against Jay-Jay Wilson in his previous bout. In a close contest, Wilson edged the bout on a split decision, which seen Claxton lose for the second time in his career.
Justin Gonzales: Undefeated Star in the Making
You have an amazing amateur record of 9-0, you were finishing people for fun. With you, it was nearly four years for you to turn into a pro from your first amateur fight, why did that process take longer for you?
Justin Gonzales – I was still wrestling in college, so my education and wrestling was priority. Once that was done then I could fight so during the school year fighting was on hold. Plus both my coaches and I wanted to truly make sure we were ready to go pro.
Talk to meet about your first professional fight against Jordan Titoni, what was the difference from amateur to professional?
Justin Gonzales – Although I never had intentions of going this far we trained like we were a pro since we started. I think the biggest difference was the longer rounds, and being able to knee and elbow those techniques can drastically change a fight.
You became a champion in Sparta in your fifth professional fight, how did that feel, was it then you felt you could go on and achieve so much more in MMA?
Justin Gonzales – After a couple of amateurs, I felt I could go pro but then after some dominant wins over alleged high level guys I realized I was really good at this and thoroughly enjoyed it. At that point I felt I was gonna be dangerous in this game and giving me an opportunity at a better life
You appeared on Contender Series in 2019, how do you feel the fight went and is the UFC in your thoughts in the future?
Justin Gonzales – I beat ol boy pretty dominantly with some injuries that made me fight a little differently. I felt I earned a contract but it is what it is. I’m very happy with where I’m at and excited to see where this journey takes me. I’m always hungry for more but for now, I’m enjoying the ride.
Your first fight in LFA and you win the belt, how much better does it feel to finish your opponent in a title fight?
Justin Gonzales – Ahh man it felt great to get a finish for a world title, I think it made a statement against another high-level undefeated opponent. They gave me an opportunity, I took advantage of it and got signed to Bellator!!
As an undefeated fighter do you feel any pressure going into a promotion like Bellator, or are you not the type of person to feel pressure before a fight?
Justin Gonzales – There’s always pressure. It’s a fight vs another guy who is literally trained to f**k you up. I’ve been on big stages my whole life and sometimes I get the vibe I’m still liked at like the underdog. It’s just another day doing what I do best.
Tell me about this past year with the Covid Pandemic, has training been different and how tough has it been waiting quite a while for a fight to come up?
Justin Gonzales – The past year was rough there was a lot going on. Covid, deaths, a lot of important people in my life getting very ill, injuries. It took its toll, but we all got a sad story. I overcame I’m back and it made me stronger. It made me a better person. It made me grow. God has a plan for us all and I think this was him saying I needed to slow down and take care of a couple things before I could reach the levels I wanted to.
Finally, your thoughts on your opponent Ty-wan Claxton, do you have any predictions for the fight?
Justin Gonzales – Tywan is tough. He’s good at what he does. He’s ranked for a reason. I’m excited for the fight I’m excited for the opportunity. He’s standing between me and my goals. So I plan on beating him up getting that stoppage and onto the next one. I’m calling it JTRAIN via TKO.
Featured Image Credits to Bellator Public Relations