Prospect in the Spotlight (June 11-12): Justin Gonzales

Friday, June 11th, American featherweight prospect Justin Gonzales will be in action for Bellator, where he will be looking to continue his winning ways against fellow veteran Tywan Claxton. He will be looking for another win, as Gonzales looks blaze his path on the way to an eventual title shot. He represents Top Notch MMA, a smaller camp in MMA. Let’s take a closer look at this prospect as this week’s “Prospect Spotlight.”

Strengths

Wrestling: Gonzales has a wrestling background, and it shows in all of his MMA fights. He comes into the fight with a strong wrestling approach. Once he closes distance, to which he does that aggressively, he is very strong in the clinch and can control his opponent. He is very strong and explosive, which is why he’s so consistent in that facet. From a distance or in close, Gonzales is very effective with his takedowns. Once on top, he’s hard to get off. He is positionally sound and makes advances at the right time. He’s also very electric in scrambles, often times winning the hustle to get the advantageous spot. He will grind on opponents or finish them with his big ground-and-pound. Plus, he has great cardio, so he doesn’t get tired while he’s waring on opponents.

Boxing: In addition to being a strong grappler, Gonzales compliments that part of his game with some solid striking. Gonzales has a strong boxing approach, as he uses primarily his hands in exchanges. He moves very well on his feet, both in-and-out and laterally. He cuts of the cage well, too. He has a very strong jab, which he uses to set up more varied combos. He scores points well and shows good technical prowess. He also has some power. A lot of times, his boxing can be used to set up takedowns, but he has no problem throwing hands for an extended period of time if need be.

Needs Improvement

Offensive Submission Arsenal: It’s hard to knock Gonzales for anything submission grappling related, but something he could do to improve his overall game further is to become more of an offensive submission threat. As a pro, he has just one submission win to his name. It was a rear-naked choke in his second pro fight. He has threatened other opponents with submissions, but that is the only finish by tap that he has. I really am high on Gonzales and think he’s a threat right now, but if he becomes more of a threat to score with a hold, he could really be a major threat in any fight he takes.

Outlook

Title Challenger: It bewilders me that the UFC did not snag Gonzales given that he was on the Contender Series and then became LFA Champion afterwards. Because of that, Bellator is the lucky recipient of Gonzales’ services. Gonzales draws a guy that Bellator is high on in Tywan Claxton, who has good wrestling and is the owner of one of the best knockouts in Bellator history. They are challenging Gonzales right off the back, which shows how highly they think of Gonzales. Should he win, that will instantly put him in the mix. He’s still several fights from a title shot, but it will have him off on the right foot in the second biggest MMA company in the world.

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