Octagon Oracles: Erick Gonzalez

James Colwell

Grade: C+

Gonzalez is an a solid fighter coming into his prime at age 29, and with 12 of his 19 career fights coming in Combate Global he’s had plenty of experience at a high level. However, he continues the trend of the UFC only signing US-based fighters on short notice due to visa difficulties, and Gonzalez is nowhere near the most qualified addition to the UFC’s lightweight pool internationally.

In fact, I had a substantial number of the contestants on this year’s Contender Series ranked ahead of Gonzalez in my global prospect rankings, so it surprises me to see him signed outright.

Gonzalez is a fearless fighter with fast hands, and he can put together some really tight combinations on his feet. His ground and pound is also very effective, as 6 of his 8 TKO/KO wins have come from strikes from top position. His jiu-jitsu defense is pretty good but he’s not really a threat to submit anyone.

All of his losses have come either by submission or by decision in fights where he was generally controlled on the ground, and having such a clear weak area is not a great recipe for success in the UFC.

Gonzalez steps in to take on highly qualified gatekeeper Jim Miller, who happens to excel on the ground and with his submissions. That makes it hard to view this fight as anything but a set-up for Miller, and while Gonzalez is certainly a strong regional fighter I don’t anticipate him having a lengthy UFC career.

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner
Bonus Winner
A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
Top 10
Top 5
Title Contender
Champion

Drew Beaupre

Grade: C-

Gonzalez arrives in the UFC following a long career in Combate, though his two most recent bouts were main event victories for regional promotions Naciones MMA (Mexico) and LXF (California). His twelve fights for Combate included challenging for their inaugural lightweight belt in 2019, losing a competitive unanimous decision to current UFC lightweight Rafa Garcia.

“The Ghost Pepper” prefers to keep things on the feet and utilize his length while striking. He favors long straight right hands and front kicks to the midsection of his opponents at distance, as well as rear-leg high kicks. He’s as happy to attempt flying knees from open space as he is to throw knees to the body in the clinch, and though he doesn’t use it much he does have a decent takedown game to fall back on when he gets in trouble.

The biggest concern with Gonzalez is his tendency to keep his hands low and extend his chin when punching, but he’s yet to be knocked out in nineteen pro bouts and often seems to relish the chance to show off his toughness. He can also leave himself open to takedowns, but displayed some excellent scrambling in his bout with Garcia in order to get out of trouble and return to his feet.  

This matchup with Jim Miller is a tough debut, as I can see the long-time UFC vet snatching a submission if Gonzalez gets a bit too wild. While Gonzalez is the kind of action fighter that won’t ever challenge for a title in the UFC, he can certainly earn the appreciation of fans with his penchant for getting into entertaining brawls. Depending on how the UFC choose to match him up going forward, expect “The Ghost Pepper” to put on some exciting bouts and possibly pick up a few Fight of the Night bonuses in the process.

Out Within 1-2 Years
50/50 Winner
Bonus Winner
A Mainstay Through the Years
Top 15
Top 10
Top 5
Title Contender
Champion