Serra-Longo’s James Gonzalez awaits CFFC bantamweight gold after vacating 145-pound strap

James Gonzalez (second from left) celebrates his CFFC title win with teammate Aljamain Sterling (second from right) and coaches Ray Longo (right) and Eric Hyer (left).

James Gonzalez’s Cage Fury Fighting Championship (CFFC) bantamweight title opportunity is not coming as soon as expected, but it’s approaching nonetheless. 

Even after claiming the CFFC featherweight strap by defeating Pat Sabatini (11-3) via first-round stoppage back in February, moving back to bantamweight and capturing CFFC gold there was always the plan for Gonzalez (6-3).

Just seven months after winning the short-notice title fight, however, Gonzalez, 30, finds himself without the CFFC featherweight nor bantamweight straps.

A miscommunication with the promotion led to Gonzalez losing his 145-pound title. The vacant CFFC bantamweight title will be up for grabs, though, in the coming weeks, but Gonzalez’s name is excluded from immediate contention. 

The CFFC bantamweight championship will be on the line as Jared Scoggins (9-1) and Thomas Vasquez (8-4) are set to headline CFFC 84 in Tunica, Mississippi on September 17.

There is no ill will between Gonzalez and the promotion, despite the title fight delay. According to the New York native, CFFC promised him the next title shot after Scoggins’ and Vasquez’s clash.

“I was supposed to get a fight at 135 for the title, but they were having a hard time finding guys to fight me,” Gonzalez told MMA-Prospects. 

“When they come back to Pennsylvania, I will fight the winner of that fight. That was taking a little while and I didn’t know exactly what was going on. Then I saw the post for the 145-pound belt. I was just a miscommunication because I didn’t initially know I was being stripped and they were moving on with that weight class.”

Despite being crowned the CFFC featherweight champion in February, Gonzalez’s next move always included the 135-pound division. 

The Serra-Longo standout made his bantamweight debut back at CFFC 77 in August of 2019, finishing Georgia’s Georgi Kudukhashvili (5-4) via first-round doctor’s stoppage. It snapped a two-fight losing streak for “Speedy” at featherweight, who had suffered back-to-back losses to eventual UFC standouts Bill Algeo (13-5) and Mike Trizano (8-1). 

In fact, of Gonzalez’s three losses, all have come at the hands of those two future UFC fighters, as Gonzalez has lost to Trizano first in his professional debut back in 2016.

Following the fights against Trizano and Algeo, Gonzalez then took a fight with the former 145-pound champion, Sabatini, on a six days’ notice. Gonzalez caught Sabatini’s right arm in a nasty lock, breaking it less than a minute into the round.

His next fight will be a bantamweight bout against the winner of Scoggins and Vasquez. The younger brother of former UFC and current RIZIN fighter Justin Scoggins, Jared is 9-1.

Vasquez is seasoned at 8-4, having fought current UFC fighter Julio Arce (16-4) and former Bellator bantamweight Marcos Galvao (18-12-1).

Gonzalez is waiting patiently to meet the winner.

“I’m happy to see we are back on target,” Gonzalez said. “Initially, they wanted me to go to Mississippi, but with all this with the quarantine, I can’t, really. It would be two weeks there, two weeks back.”

Gonzalez said his title shot will occur in Philadelphia, PA this October. It’s the same city where he captured the CFFC 145-pound title at Parx Casino.

The 30-year-old is not saying ‘No’ to a return to featherweight; it’s just not his plan for now. Although, if the UFC comes calling, Gonzalez said he could hit the 145-pound mark in a matter of hours.

For now, Gonzalez is eying one more fight in 2020. It’s worth waiting for.

“I’m thankful the CFFC is giving me an opportunity to fight for the 135-pound belt. I’m training like I have a fight a week from now, next week, whatever,” concluded Gonzalez.