Mando Gutierrez will look to improve his professional MMA record to 3-0 Saturday when he takes on debutant Adam Kehr at Lights Out Championship 7. The featherweight bout could carry important implications for the Michigan regional scene.
Both Gutierrez and Kehr had strong amateur runs. Although Kehr is making his pro debut, Gutierrez said he’s not taking his opponent lightly. Gutierrez wanted the fight as a means to motivate him to train harder and take that extra step.
“The only thing that’s bad about the fight to me is I wanted to fight him when he had a couple of wins under his belt,” Gutierrez told MMASucka. “That way, I had more to win off it. To me, as a 2-0 fighter, me fighting a debuter doesn’t really stick out. For the local Michigan people who know what’s going on, they know Adam is a tough formidable opponent, and we’re coming to put on a real show. That’s the one thing I hope a lot of people see after the performance.”
Gutierrez regards Kehr as a well-rounded opponent who has a quality stand-up and ground game. But he said his foe makes a lot of mistakes. Gutierrez, who calls himself a fast-starter, intends to make him pay for those mistakes early on.
“I think I’ll get a finish at the end of the first or early in the second,” he said. “But make no mistake, I’m training for a three-round fight. I know he has good output and cardio. I’ve really been on my game this camp and trying to push my limits to make sure I’m ready for absolutely anything.”
Gutierrez has backed up his fast-starter claim with finishes in both of his professional bouts thus far: a first-round rear naked choke over Mike Thompson at LOC 5 and a second-round guillotine of Kevin O. Walker Jr. at Total Warrior Combat.
Six of Gutierrez’s seven amateur wins have come via submission; the outlier is a unanimous decision. His wins range from arm triangle chokes to guillotines, as well as a triangle for good measure.
He said he loves Jiu-Jitsu, and trains grappling as a sport on its own. Gutierrez does more stand-up work than Jiu-Jitsu in his MMA camps. However, his BJJ is what truly shines in his fights. It complements his wrestling background, he said. Gutierrez hopes the other things fans see when he fights is his constant pressure.
“I don’t stop; I keep coming forward,” he said. “That’s the excitement and hunger in me that when I step out there, I want to take somebody’s head off and make it a quick night. Go hang out with my friends after. I’m known as a quick finisher just because I start off real fast, and I want to keep it that way.”
Gutierrez isn’t overlooking Kehr, but he has his eyes set on some big goals.
“My heart is set on being the best in the world,” he said.
The current plan is to reach the UFC, as Gutierrez believes it offers him the best chance of reaching a certain threshold of notoriety and fame.
“I don’t speak on making it to the UFC too often, because I’ve got some big dreams and they go way past just the UFC alone,” he said. “I know it’s a challenge to get in, but if everything happens the way I’m training for it to happen, I’ll be just a whole lot more than a guy who fought in the UFC.”
Representing Lights Out
To get there, Gutierrez must navigate the waters of the regional circuit first. He said he has a good relationship with Matt Frendo, CEO of Lights Out Championship. He intends to fight for the promotion a lot in 2020, and said if all goes well, he’ll get a title shot before the year ends.
“I want to represent Lights Out, and I really want to be their first fighter who’s completely homegrown with Lights Out to make it all the way to the UFC,” Gutierrez said. “And then I’ll start working towards the goal of being the best in the world.”
Make no mistake, Gutierrez isn’t in a rush to reach the UFC. He feels it’ll come as long as he keeps winning.
“At the end of the day, I don’t want to get pushed into the UFC too early, go in there and get my ass beat and then never fight again or never be able to make it back,” he said. “I’d rather have longevity with my career. I want to be the next Max Holloway who’s just fighting constantly and always winning. He’s been in the UFC since he was 20, and the dude is only 28. And he’s just killing it.”
There’s no timeline on when Gutierrez plans to reach the UFC. The main thing he’s after is longevity in the sport.
Making a Name
In order to stand out, Gutierrez said he tries to emphasize self-promotion. He knows the importance of connecting with the people supporting him.
“I feel like I really gotta get the word out and keep representing hard,” he said. “By representing, I mean representing Mexico. I walk out with the flag and to Spanish music. I try to speak some Spanish for everybody in the post-fights. So, I hope I can depict a good picture of myself. Not only win fights, but being a good role model will definitely get me up there a whole lot faster.”
LOC 7 is headlined by a lightweight title fight between Kenny Cross and Robert Hale. Cody Brundage and Erick Lozano are also competing for a title; the two previously fought at LOC 6 where Brundage defeated Lozano for the middleweight strap. Gutierrez vs. Kehr will also be a feature of the card. The event goes down Saturday evening from the Deltaplex Arena in Grand Rapids, MI.