World Series of Fighting hosted a media conference call on Tuesday, a week and a half before “World Series of Fighting 12: Palomino vs. Gonzalez” is set to take place on Saturday, Aug. 9, at Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Featuring a lightweight headliner between exciting Peruvian veteran Luis “Baboon” Palomino (22-9) and undefeated Californian “Lethal” Lewis Gonzalez (9-0), “World Series of Fighting 12: Palomino vs. Gonzalez” will once again be televised on NBCSN.
Other matchups on the main-event card include: Brazilian brawler Ronny Markes (14-3) vs. Cully Butterfield (13-3) in a light heavyweight battle; Elvis “The King” Mutapcic (13-3) vs. Kelvin “The Mama’s Boy” Tiller (6-0) in a catchweight affair at 195 pounds; Olympian Alexis Vila (13-4) vs. Brandon “Hot Rod” Hempleman (9-2) in a bantamweight tilt; and bantamweights Bryson Hansen (7-1) and Matt “Robo” Sayles (2-0) will kick off the event.
Tickets for “World Series of Fighting 12: Palomino vs. Gonzalez” start at just $39 and are on sale now at AXS.com. The evening’s main card airs live on NBCSN starting at 10 p.m. ET (7 p.m. PT local time). Preliminary contests will be announced shortly and will stream live on NBCSports.com.
The following are highlights from the conference call:
“We’ve had a lot of changes because of injuries but we’ve ended up with an amazing lineup headlined by Luis Palomino and Lewis Gonzalez…. Luis Palomino, as everyone knows, is a type of guy who lets it all hang out and comes out swinging for the fences. He’s a jiu jitsu guy and a wrestler but that doesn’t give you as much satisfaction as knocking somebody out. Lewis Gonzalez is also that type of guy. He’s a grinder. I like to compare him to some of the greats like Randy Couture and Chael Sonnen who brings a type of game to the table that is just grind, grind, grind.”
“I’m grateful that the WSOF has made me the main event for this WSOF 12. I think it’s a highlight of my life that I get to show a greater amount of people what I’ve been up to for the last seven years of my life. I’ve been working my butt off for this and I finally get a chance to show a lot of people what I’ve been doing.
“The game plan has been adjusted (to account for Gonzalez’s strong wrestling). We’ve seen when I get a little over-excited in my striking what happens. If he’s going to be waiting for me to miss, it’s going to be a very short fight. Accuracy is on point and I’ve been getting ready for this fight for like seven months. There is no off-season for me. My game has only improved. I’ve been facing wrestlers since the beginning of my career. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: he’s a talented fighter and I respect him, but he’s not bringing anything new to the table.”
“I have the mentality, like Ray said, as being known as a grinder. I work hard and I pride myself on having more heart than my opponent and I just keep the pace longer than they do. No matter what happens I just keep going forward and I just think my mental toughness is what has kept me undefeated so far.
“I was already offered the fight (against Justin Gaethje) back in January but unfortunately I got hurt. I can see why they gave it to Melvin (Guillard), but I think with a win next weekend, that would put me next in line for that title shot against whoever wins that fight.
“(Luis) is a very heavy-handed guy and I’ve watched a couple of his fights and his hands are dangerous. I’ve just got to play it smart and keep my range. The one thing that I’ve noticed was in the fights he’s won by knockouts that even before he knocks them out he’s taken down a couple of times. He swings for the fences and when he connects it’s devastating, but when he misses he leaves himself open for takedowns. I feel like I’m a stronger wrestler than most of the guys he has fought.
“The pressure builds a little every time (having an undefeated record). Especially being on the big stage and having that zero in the loss column. But when you get in the cage all the fights are the same and it all goes away. The nerves are up a little more but once you get in there it all goes away and the pressure is all off.”
“This camp I did not do my training in Rio (Grande do Norte, Brazil), but instead with my first coach. I did not train with as many big names as I have in the past, but I did have a lot of really great training partners…. So I felt just as great as when I go out and do my training camp in Rio.
“I’m really motivated for this fight. I’ve forgotten about my last loss and I think this is just a great opportunity for me to put on a good show and start winning fights again. That’s my goal.”
“My first couple of fights I was just training out of the wrestling room where I went to college, and I didn’t really have any good coaching. I mean, the guy that was running it would pretty much just watch UFC and took advice from them on what happened on the show. I eventually moved away and started doing it full-time and that’s what did it for me. The good training and the good coaching, I actually became a full mixed martial artist instead of just a wrestler with no hands. So that’s what has made the difference in my game.”
“I don’t try to look too much at other fighters because they are evolving all the time. But I’ve picked up on (Tiller’s) general habits. One of the things he’s very good at is he’s very explosive. He’s young, he’s hungry and he’s undefeated. When you’ve got a young undefeated guy, they have a little bit less fear, which is good for him and bad at the same time. He’s just an explosive guy who’s pretty well-rounded and he brings it.
With your loss to Jesse Taylor, what did you learn from that, and how have you changed your approach?
“I made a few mistakes leading up to that fight. I changed my style. I made mistakes leading up to the fight and in my training camp. I didn’t have the sense of urgency and I didn’t think he’d be able to control me the way he did. I learned the lesson the hard way. I’ve improved my wrestling quite a bit and this is the first camp where I’ve been able to train full-time without working a full-time job. I feel like I’m five years younger. My will for it is a lot deeper than it was before and I’ve just fixed some holes I had in that fight.”
“I don’t like studying my opponents. If you look at my fights, I stick with my style. I like to pressure people a lot and use a lot of takedowns. On the outside I like to use jabs and kicks. I’ve been training really hard and I’m just grateful for this opportunity.”