Sometimes, the numbers speak for themselves.
Indeed, it is the numbers forged from an expeditious approach that befits an appropriate introduction to Mando Gutierrez.
From seven professional victories – including six submissions – Mando Gutierrez has secured five submissions within two minutes.
In fact, across a combined seven amateur and eight professional matchups, “El Toro” has only gone the distance twice.
Those two bouts were Championship winning contests under Total Warrior Combat, in which Gutierrez secured the Featherweight and Bantamweight Championships via unanimous decision.
From the remaining thirteen matchups, Gutierrez boasts an incredible twelve submissions.
Add to the mix a Lights Out Championship Featherweight Championship, and Gutierrez presents an astounding, decorated record worthy of his deserved Dana White’s Contender Series opportunity September 20th.
Yet, that narrative seems to have fallen to the wayside, overshadowed by the narrative of his youthful Contender Series opponent; 17-year-old Raúl Rosas Jr.
Make no mistake, the attention residing on Rosas Jr doesn’t bother Gutierrez.
Rather, it’s the lack of conversation regarding a Contender Series first that causes frustration.
“I’ve never seen two Mexican’s fighting each other on the Contender Series” Gutierrez highlights. “That’s the first one”.
Gutierrez is absolutely right.
54 Contender Series fight-cards precede September 20th. Yet Gutierrez versus Ramos Jr will be the first Mexican vs Mexican Contender Series matchup in Contender Series history.
That fact, however, has been lost amongst the torrent of media focussed solely on Ramos Jr’s youth.
“If anything, it puts more pressure on his end” Gutierrez admits. “On my end, I know what I’m gonna go out there to do regardless. I don’t care about tabloids, I don’t care about fame, I don’t care about being known; I don’t care about any of that. I fight because I love to fight, so it don’t matter; I don’t care all too much”.
The frustration of a neglected all-Mexican narrative stems deeper than simple pride of heritage.
Gutierrez hails from a family with humble beginnings; one that overcame extraordinary obstacles to provision a life of better opportunity.
“I’m super proud of being Mexican, because those are the hardest working people on Earth” Gutierrez shares. “I grew up knowing nothing but hard work; I know that if you work hard, you can achieve anything”.
“My parents themselves are a testament to that” Gutierrez continues. “They grew up in a tiny little house in the middle of nowhere in Mexico; a tiny ranch town, where you don’t have any opportunities whatsoever. My Dad – without speaking a lick of English – moved him and his wife to the United States. He was starting to come over when he was 14, but he moved there with his wife when he was 16 years old, and built a crazy life; built a big family, raised us all, and we were never missing anything”.
“If he can do it not speaking the language – not having gone to school ever – [and] if he can do it without anything, with every disadvantage imaginable, why would I not be able to do it with everything at my disposal?” Gutierrez asks. “He was the one who instilled that hard work in me, and it all comes from our heritage. We’re proud Mexican people, we’re hardworking, we’re blue collar, we’re respectful, [and] we’re family-orientated. It’s all I ever am”.
The embodiment of such sentiment echoes in Gutierrez’s many accomplishments, and continues to resonate in every aspect of his journey.
Of course, therein lies the remarkable character of Gutierrez. Despite countless individual successes, Gutierrez is first to emphasise that this is not a solitary journey; rather, every achievement is the product of those who surround him.
One such presence is his head coach Joaquin Murcielago.
“My coach, he’s just one of those guys who will do anything for you if he sees that you want to put the work in” Gutierrez explains. “What I love about him is he won’t ask you to do anything that he can’t do himself”.
“He’s as old school as it gets, and he has the magic touch” Gutierrez continues. “When it comes to having him in your corner, he’s super motivating. He has a really good way of building you [to have] really tough skin, because anybody who’s in this game knows that nobody really loves you here. This is a cold, cold game, so you have to have really thick skin, and he prepared me for all of that”.
“If it wasn’t for him, I’d have never of been fighting in the first place” Gutierrez admits. “When I came out here, I didn’t know anything about fighting, and he built me from ground up. He picked all my fights for me. He took me everywhere, taught me everything. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here. He’s been a huge inspiration for me”.
Family, friends, teammates, and coaches provision a supportive network, upon which a foundation of relentless tenacity has been built.
Partnered to an absolute self-belief, Gutierrez enters Contender Series as a formidable force.
The opponent that stands before him – Raúl Rosas Jr – has certainly sparked a curiosity throughout the masses; after all, a 5-0 professional record built entirely with Ultimate Warrior Challenge Mexico at just 17 years old is nothing short of impressive.
Unbeknown to most, however, is that “El Niño Problema” is no stranger to “El Toro”.
“Honestly, I know the guy” Gutierrez reveals. “What most people don’t know – I think your gonna be the first person to be able to speak on this – is that I cross train in Las Vegas. I like training where he trains. I’ve seen him before, I know who he is”.
“The kid is good; he’s a talented fighter” Gutierrez acknowledges.
“At the end of the day the dude’s done his work you know, he’s clearly raising eyebrows, he’s winning fights; he’s doing what he’s supposed to do” Gutierrez continues. “So to me, it doesn’t matter what age he is; I gotta go out there and beat his ass regardless, because at the end of the day, he’s the one standing in between me and the contract”.
Incredibly, the matchup with Rosas Jr will be the first time in Gutierrez’s professional career for which he is the older fighter.
Gutierrez certainly enters the UFC Apex as the more experienced, battle-tested athlete; one who has witnessed the highs – and lows – of the fight game.
With that experience, there is recognition of a parallel between his opponent, and his own past experience.
“With all due respect to him, I feel like I was in his exact position when I went and took my first loss” Gutierrez admits. “I feel that this is just the story re-writing itself, for him”.
“I was forced to become a martial artist after my first loss, because I realised my first line of defence, and my first attack, isn’t always gonna be the one that works” Gutierrez explains. “He’s in for a rude awakening [September 20th], because that’s gonna be exactly what I plan to bring. I’m the complete martial artist. He’s just a jiu-jitsu guy, so I wanna go out there and expose that. I wanna go out there and teach him a lesson; that there’s still things he has to do before he tries to make it to the big show”.
“I’m not taking anything from him, he’s an absolute savage on the mat” Gutierrez continues. “But I’m not worried about him on the ground, I’m not worried about him on the feet, and I feel like if I come in at 100%, I can beat him anywhere in that cage; it doesn’t matter to me. I just gotta go out there and let my IQ do the talking. He has one tool; I have them all. As long as I can push the pace, and dictate the fight, I can do whatever I want to do”.
In the narrative from Mando Gutierrez himself, witness Contender Series history September 20th, as two Mexican athletes both known for grappling finesse compete for an opportunity with the UFC.
The author wishes to extend his utmost gratitude to Mando Gutierrez for making this article possible.
Image sourced from the thescrap.co