Erick Gonzalez reached rock bottom at an early age. He was lucky, he had enough time to make a real change in his life and others.
He was a fast-rising Combate Americas standout, who says he was a punk kid who was more interested in finding street fights and getting into trouble in Los Angeles’ South Bay suburbs. He was not interested in making something of himself, by his own admission.
One night, however, it all came to a head when he was pulled over and arrested in his hometown for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Gonzalez said this was his wake-up call. “Having my mom come get me out of jail was the worst moment of my entire life and I knew right then and there I needed to find a new direction in my life.”
He was only 21 years old when he was arrested. He was a big martial arts fan, so the wrestler from South Torrance High, who was a solid street fighter, decided to see what he could make of it.
Right away, Gonzalez knew he was where he belonged. “It put a discipline and focus into everything I did, and it spilled over into the rest of my life. I’m grateful I was able to turn things around before I went too far down the wrong path.”
Five years later, Gonzalez is one of the up-and-coming starts of Combate Americas and on Oct. 5, 2018, he became a part of history. Gonzalez dropped down to a featherweight to face Andres Quintana in the first of two one-round qualifying bouts for November’s Copa Combate tournament.
Quintana (14-2) won the first round with a rear naked choke hold 2:41 minutes into the round. He has nine knockouts and 10 finishes among his 14 career wins. Gonzalez (7-2) has five career knockouts. He is 4-1 in Combate Americas and avenged his only loss to Danny Ramirez with a first-round knockout on April 13.
Recently, a Univision crew showed up at Gonzalez’s house for a feature story.
“Sometimes it’s hard to explain to people who don’t know that people in the [Latino] community know how big Combate Americas is in this part of the world. When I’m fighting here, it’s like, basically my friends and family know who I am. But then in other countries millions of people see my fights. Then one day a Univision crew came over to interview my family and, Univision is a big big deal in Hispanic communities. When they come out to talk to my family, that’s when they realized, hey, Erick is coming along pretty good.”
By Jeanette Smith
Tapology: Andres Quintana
MMA Fighting: Early ‘wake-up call’ led Combate Americas’ Erick Gonzalez into mixed martial arts