Chris Gutierrez is expected to have a few advantages over UFC newcomer Cody Durden when the two meet at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday. Octagon experience and a fairly full training camp may be the most widely accepted ones, but there is one thing “El Guapo” has over the late-notice replacement that could be an underrated edge, and that’s going through a fight week in the new normal that Durden hasn’t seen yet.
“It is very different going into fight week and it not being what it used to be,” said Gutierrez, who defeated Vince Morales on May’s Gilbert Burns-Tyron Woodley undercard on May 30. “But, at the end of the day, the one thing that is normal is the fight. We're both going to climb into that cage and we're gonna try to rip each other's head off. That's the only thing that's about as normal as everything else.”
Gutierrez might be throwing a little misdirection at his foe, as well, as his win over Morales saw him ripping Morales’ leg off, and not his head, as a steady diet of low kicks led to his second-round stoppage victory.
“He just left it out there,” laughed Gutierrez. “It wasn't like that was the game plan. The game plan was to go in there and do what I do and flow. But if you see openings, take it, and I took it.”
The result was his third consecutive victory and the best performance of his UFC stint. And that it came over a tough opponent like Morales put an even bigger feather in Gutierrez’ cap.
“It's kind of crazy because the guy (Morales) went three rounds with a top 15 guy in Song Yadong, who's a very good, skillful fighter himself,” he said. “And Morales went three rounds with him and Song couldn't put him away. So I knew he went the distance with this guy, who's a power puncher, so I gotta be on my toes. And I was, and I picked him apart.”
Now 15-4-1 as a pro, the 29-year-old is in a lot better place than he was after he debuted in the Octagon with a second-round submission loss to Raoni Barcelos, and he couldn’t be more satisfied with the way things are progressing.
“Obviously, the Barcelos fight didn't go my way, so I had to make that fight back up,” said Gutierrez. “Starting with Ryan MacDonald, I got that win. Then I went to Uruguay and got that win (over Geraldo de Freitas), and then I won in Vegas. Before that, I had some injuries, so I had some time to myself to really do some self-evaluating as far as me and everything I have to do, and I did. Luckily, the stuff that I've done has paid off and I don't intend to stop. And actually, I'm going to go a little more foot to the throttle.”
About the only negative in Gutierrez’ life is the continuing custody battle for his three-year-old son Adrian, who he hasn’t seen in eight months. But fighters fight, and Gutierrez continues to battle for his son.
“I would like to be a father in my son's life and I won't stop until I get that,” he said. “That's the objective. He is my biggest motivation.”
That motivation drives the Factory X team member, and while he was originally scheduled to face a bigger name in Luke Sanders, Gutierrez has no issues putting it on Durden this weekend.
“The game plan is to go out there and do me, really,” he said. “If I want to put him on his back, I'll put him on his back. If I want to strike with him, I'll strike with him. If I want to wrestle with him, I'll wrestle with him. What I have to do is just keep knocking these people's heads off. That's all I have to do and all that I can do. I go in there thinking I'm fighting a world champion, and I have to go in there with that mentality.”