| On this week’s episode of Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio the crew in the barber shop invited WMMA star Michele Gutierrez onto the show to discuss her upcoming return to fighting and what led to her year-long layoff. Gutierrez is 3-3 in her professional fight career and is looking to earn a fourth victory on August 23rd as she makes her return to the cage against Jordan Nicole Gaza at Dakota FC 16: Fall Brawl 2013 in Fargo, North Dakota. She is currently training at Alliance MMA in San Diego and took some time out of her training schedule to discuss the upcoming bout with BJPenn.com’s Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio. Here are some of the highlights from that interview:
Michele, who is coming off of two consecutive losses, first touched on what led her to take over a year off from fighting after her last bout in April of 2012.
“I felt like MMA was turning into Hollywood and there were like rumors and people were saying awful things about me and I just had it,” she explained. “And to be honest I think I kind of lost the love for MMA for a minute.”
“Sometimes when it starts to become a job, like a tedious office job, you just don’t want to do it anymore and that’s how it was for me. So I just kind of needed to step back and deal with my real life and be a normal person for a minute. And then I slowly kind of worked my way back into the gym,” Gutierrez said. “I definitely needed that time but it was good.”
Although she’s extremely ready and excited to make her return to the fight game she assured the fans at BJPenn.com that she is going to be a different fighter and her approach to the sport has changed as well.
“I’m ready to step back in it and be legit. To be able to back what I say. Be a good striker and actually be a good striker, be able to say, ‘yeah I’m learning more on the ground and I’m not afraid to go there,’ and really mean it.”
She attributes the majority of this shift in training and attitude toward fighting to her new gym, Alliance MMA, in San Diego, California. Alliance is one of the top training camps in the world and is home to many successful UFC fighters and training in that environment, according to Michele, has changed her outlook and approach to fighting.
“Being at Alliance is very humbling,” she said. “The level of athletes is just though the roof.”
She went on to say that she is no longer going to be focused on modeling and being a WMMA star. Instead, she is trying to put all of her energy and effort into being the best fighter she can be.
“I’m just going to shut up for awhile and then my fighting will speak for itself,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez took a lot of criticism for her approach to the business of MMA before she took her year-long layoff. When asked if she would go back and change anything, knowing what she knows now, she explained,“I would have avoided certain people and certain situations which would have taken a lot of drama out of my life.”
“The only thing I’ve hated is that I’ve been princessed my whole career,” Michele explained. “That has brought me to where I am right not, which is a name without the skills to back it. So I had to, like, fast forward my training and just get really serious in the gym.”
“I just really need to get better. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Gutierrez has been a well-know name in the WMMA circuits ever since she made her debut in 2009 and was asked what she thought about how far the sport has come with the UFC now hosting a women’s division and Invicta FC hosting their last event on PPV.
“It’s just cool and I’m proud to be a part of it and I’m proud that I was fighting when it was embarrassing to be a fighter,” she replied. “It’s cool that things are changing.”
She also commented on how she landed her next bout with Dakota FC after her hiatus from the sport.
“I’m grateful that North Dakota called me and had me back,” she stated. “I have a good relationship with the matchmaker from North Dakota after I fought for him,” she continued, “he just wanted to just help me, give me a chance to start fresh.”
Michele is surely happy with the way things are looking up but admitted that she was ready to fight, regardless of who it was for.“I don’t even care where it is,” she said.
When asked what her future goals in the sport were now that she is back to being active and where she eventually wanted to fight she replied, “I’m just going to stay as busy as possible. As long as I’m not hurt I’m going to keep fighting. If it ends up Bellator, if it ends up Invicta, if it ends up the UFC opens up 125 then so be it,”
She admitted that she didn’t want to get ahead of herself like she had in the past, though. She assured us that she was, “just taking baby steps for now.”
Michele then went on to explain that after all the drama she had been through in the past year she knows that she is mentally tougher and can handle any challenge set in front of her. When asked if she had any added pressure coming into this fight because it is following a lengthy layoff she repled, “All I have to do is make weight, which is 125, which is so easy, and just show up and do what I know how to do.”
Gutierrez then explained how she sees things playing out for her following this fight with Dakota FC against Jordan Nicole Gaza.
“I just want to fight as many times as I can, stay healthy, not get hurt, stay at Alliance in between fights, staying on my jiu-jitsu classes, getting better, going for submissions instead of constantly trying to get back to my feet, panicking so I can punch again. I just want to get better. I just want to know that all these years weren’t just a waste.”
And she also commented on her long-term goals in the sport of MMA:
“I’ve always wanted to get into the media side of MMA,” she said. “But right now I’m just focusing on my next fight.”
We would like to thank Michele for taking the time out to talk with all the fans here at BJPenn.com and Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio. We wish her all the best of luck in her upcoming fight against Jordan Nicole Gaza at Dakota FC 16: Fall Brawl 2013 on August 23rd.
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