Gonzalez faces crossroads bout Saturday looking to get back in the mix among elite featherweights

Photo courtesy of Will Paul
VETERAN FEATHERWEIGHT PEDRO Gonzalez of Gloucester, Mass., faces an important fight Saturday, April 15th, 2017 in Beverly, Mass., at the historic North Shore Music Theatre when he battles Bruno Dias in the main event of “CES MMA 43.” Gonzalez hasn’t fought in a year, but returns injury-free to try to reclaim his spot at the top of his division. A win could put him in line for a title against reigning champion Matt Bessette, a fight that was originally scheduled for “CES MMA 37” in August before Gonzalez got hurt. The Gonzalez-Dias main event is one of 11 fights on Saturday’s pro-am card.

Photo courtesy of Will Paul
UNDEFEATED HOLBROOK, MASSACHUSETTS native Connor Barry returns to the cage looking to improve his record to 4-0 when he faces Andrew Osborne on the undercard of “CES MMA 43” at the historic North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly.

BEVERLY, Mass. (April 13th, 2017) — Sitting at home injured, unable to compete, Pedro Gonzalez could barely stomach watching Matt Bessette win the CES MMA World Featherweight Title in August.

That was supposed to be his fight, his opportunity at bringing a championship back to his hometown of Gloucester, Mass.

“Hat’s off to Bessette. He put on a great show,” Gonzalez said, “but I felt I probably would’ve went home with that title.”

Gonzalez (11-5) may eventually get his shot at Bessette — or whoever has the belt at the time — but, for now, he must handle his business Saturday, April 15th, 2017 at the North Shore Music Theatre when he faces Brazilian Bruno Dias (19-9) of Woburn, Mass., in the main event of “CES MMA 43.”

Saturday is Gonzalez’s first fight since last April, nearly one year to the date of “CES MMA 35,” the promotion’s first even at the NSMT. Injuries forced him to withdraw from his scheduled five-round title bout against Bessette at “CES MMA 37.”

It’s been 12 months since he last competed, which means he’s one year older and one year closer to 30, his self-inflicted deadline to either make it big in MMA or move on with his life outside the cage. With two kids — an 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter — and a wedding coming up in September, the 29-year-old Gonzalez knows it’s now or never. This is the year to make something happen and it starts Saturday in Beverly against a dangerous Dias, a submission specialist making his United States debut.

“I have to put my foot down and see what happens,” Gonzalez said. “It’s been a long road and I’m only getting older.

“It’s sad to say, but because of this fight game I’ve lost friends, I even lost a relationship because of it. There are so many things I’ve had to sacrifice, but I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s made me the person I am today and the fighter I am today. It’s kept a fire under my ass.”

Even today, with fight night just 72 hours away, Gonzalez is battling a cold as he puts the finishing touches on training camp — “It’s always something,” he said sheepishly — but it’ll take more than that to derail him this time. While he admits he hasn’t studied much film on Dias, he knows what to expect and knows where his own strengths lie.

“I’m fighting through this. I’m going to win Saturday and that’s all that matters,” he said.

“Bruno has a good ground game, but his standup is terrible,” Gonzalez said, referring to Dias’ limited experience as a professional boxer. “He has no boxing skills. You can tell he took boxing matches for money, which is fine, but I think my standup is going to be superior, and that’s where the fight will play out.




“He’ll try to take me down right away, but he’ll be surprised with my takedown defense. I’m hoping to get a knockout in this fight.”

Depending on how Saturday goes, Gonzalez wants to get right back in the cage on the next CES MMA event, even in May if, by some chance, Bessette’s scheduled bout against Jeremy Spoon at “CES MMA 44” falls through, a not-so-subtle hint that he still wants his title shot against the reigning champ.

“If he’s still around and not called up by then or if he’s still the champ, yeah, why not?” Gonzalez said. “He’s one of those guys to beat around here. Nothing against Bessette, he’s always been a good acquaintance and we’re certainly on good terms, but I just want to be right back in there.”

The future is uncertain, but Gonzalez knows the clock is ticking. His children are getting older and he’s been considering how to approach life outside of MMA. He’s considered a career as a laborer once his fighting career is over. For now, the focus is on making one last run at the crown in hopes of accomplishing the lifelong goal everyone up-and-coming fighter strives for.

“My son is going to be in sixth grade next year. He’s playing a lot of sports, and my daughter is very active. I want to be involved more,” he said. “I am now, but I have to sacrifice a little bit sometimes. Every so often, I’m not able to make a baseball or basketball game. I don’t want to be that dad that’s not around.

“I’m looking for something I can lean on a bit, something I can give to my kids.”

Tickets for “CES MMA 43” are priced at $45.00, $55.00 and $100.00 (VIP) and are available online at www.cesmma.com, www.nsmt.org, or www.cagetix.com/ces or by phone at 978-232-7200 or 401-724-2253/2254. Doors open at 6 p.m. ET and the first bout begins at 7. All fights and fighters are subject to change.

The event features five professional bouts and six amateur fights on the preliminary portion of the card and airs live online on FloCombat. Users can also stream the event on television using Roku or Apple TV 4.

Also returning April 15th, Somerville, Mass., bantamweight Rico DiSciullo (6-1, 2 KOs) looks to rebound from his first career loss at “CES MMA 38” against David Garcia when he faces former Bellator and CES MMA vet Matt Lozano (8-4, 1 KO) of Lancaster, Pa., on Saturday in an important fight for both sides. Lozano debuted with the promotion at “CES MMA 34,” earning an impressive unanimous decision win over Johnny Campbell.

The “CES MMA 43” main card also features unbeaten Massachusetts lightweight Connor Barry (3-0) of Holbrook making his third CES MMA appearance in a three-round bout against three-time CES MMA vet Andrew Osborne (7-10-1, 3 KOs) of Fayetteville, N.C.

Quincy, Mass., light heavyweight Mike Rodriguez (6-2, 4 KOs) returns following his record-setting 7-second knockout win over Hector Sanchez at “CES MMA 41” to face New York’s James Dysard (0-1) and Myrtle Beach middleweight Justin Sumter (2-1), now training in Milford, Conn., makes his CES MMA debut in a separate three-round bout against Pawtucket, R.I., vet Abe Pitrowski (6-2, 1 KO).

Similar to its North Shore debut in 2016, CES MMA will feature six amateur bouts on the preliminary card, a tremendous opportunity for the region’s up-and-coming future stars. Unbeaten bantamweight Marquis Brewster earned a promotional contract with CES MMA by winning his amateur finale a year ago at “CES MMA 35” and is now 2-0 since June.

On Saturday, featherweight Billy Keenan (6-2, 2 KOs) of Salem, Mass., faces Schenectady, N.Y., native Cody Dickershaid (7-7, 4 KOs) in the featured amateur bout while bantamweight Yarty Kim (1-0, 1 KO) of Boston battles Mike Kimbel (2-2, 1 KO) of Waterbury, Conn.

Also on the preliminary amateur card, lightweight Jurrell Laronal (1-1, 1 KO) of Dorchester, Mass., takes on Waterbury’s Jordan Riley (1-1), heavyweight Larry Perna (2-1, 2 KOs) from Bronx, N.Y., faces Ron Marshall (1-2) of Hampton, N.H., and Boston light heavyweight Zeal McGrew (2-1) faces Glen Falls, N.Y., vet Harold Ricketts (1-2). Rob Rios (0-4) of Cromwell, Conn., and Dylan Youngblood (0-2) of Pittsburgh, Pa., aim for their first amateur win when they face one another in a bantamweight bout.


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