On September 5th, 2014, STFC will return to the McAllen Convention Center for another showcase of mixed martial arts action.
One of the key match-ups involves Salvador “El Torito” Gonzalez Jr. taking on Travonne Hobbs. “El Torito” talked to us earlier this week about his upcoming fight.
Eduardo Martinez: First thing, where did the “El Torito” nickname come from?
Salvador “El Torito” Gonzalez Jr.: It came from my coach, Armando Ponce. When I first started training with him, he saw how I was by myself, more of a nice guy, calmed down, down to Earth. But when it came down to training, I turned into a bull. All aggressive on the mat, aggressive on the stand up, so that’s when he started calling me “El Torito”.
EM: Are you still attending UTPA this semester?
SGJ: Yeah it should be my last year. I have a year left to get my bachelors degree for criminal justice, and a minor in kinesiology. I currently have a associates in criminal justice from STC.
EM: Do you still plan on continuing in MMA after you receive your degree?
SGJ: Yes definitely. At first it started as a hobby, but now I really got into it and I see it being a part of my future.
EM: Can you tell us how long you’ve been training in MMA and with Gracie Barra?
SGJ: It actually started back when I was in the military. I did Army Combatives and when I came back from Iraq in 2010, I started doing jiu-jitsu at STC with Armando Ponce. From there I went to Gracice Barra. Ever since then I’ve been training there. So I say I’ve been training there for about four years now.
EM: Your first pro fight at STFC was earlier this year against Gilbert Urbina. What did you learn from that experience?
SGJ: At the amateurs, I did it at 170 lbs. I won both of them by TKO. So I never thought about going down in weight, I felt confident about being at 170. In my first professional fight, I ended up facing a real tough opponent, he had a great wrestling background which I struggled defending. That’s why it went all three rounds, unanimous decision for him. So I figured if I’m going to be fighting big opponents like that, now as a professional, it’s no joke, everything counts. So my coach advised me to go down to 155, where I learned that 170 was a bit tougher (for me). Now at 155, I have the upperhand.
EM: Other than MMA, do you enjoy any other sports or physical activities?
SGJ: I like lifting a lot, I like working out. I like doing swimming, running especially.
EM: What’s something you enjoy that would surprise people?
SGJ: I want to say…I watch Netflix all day. (laughs)
EM: Do you have any favorite fighters, from any of the combat sports, that you look forward to watching?
SGJ: Well, one of my favorite fighters that I grew up to like is (Anthony) “Showtime” Pettis. His style is amazing. The “Showtime Kick” he does, it just comes naturally to him. The fighter I’ve been watching lately is TJ Dillashaw. The way he moves, his footwork, his angles, it’s just amazing to see a fighter work that way.
EM: Most recently, you fought against Jesse Riley in Victoria. What’s the difference from fighting in McAllen to fighting in Victoria or elsewhere?
SGJ: Definitely the pressure. When you fight at home, you have your family, your friends, all the media. It is a motivation as well, but fighting away is always an upperhand because you don’t have much pressure about letting your family or friends down. I went out there with a loss in my record, so I went hungry. I was ready to go in there, and take care of business. Especially being new to the lightweight division, I felt a lot quicker, a lot faster, and sure enough I proved it by finishing my opponent in the first round.
EM: You landed a great headkick in that fight, and you also were able to finish the fight with a triangle choke against Riley. What do you feel you’re stronger at, at the moment, striking or grappling?
SGJ: In the beginning of my MMA career, I definitely thought my ground game was where I had the upperhand. I still think it’s my bread and butter. But I have already improved my stand up game, training a lot with Frank Treviño, and Abram Torres. I feel a lot more confident in my hands and my kicks. I honestly think my striking has improved more than my ground game. I give my hundred percent on top and the bottom, wherever the fight takes place.
EM: Who are some of the coaches and partners that have helped you prepare for this upcoming fight?
SGJ: First of all, it would be my coach Armando Ponce. He takes care of my ground and pound, my takedown defense, my jiu-jitsu. Then I got Abram Torres and Frank Treviño, they help me with my muay thai, and all around striking. My training partners would be Orly Rodriguez, Luke Flores, Rolly, Noe, and a couple of other guys.
EM: How familiar are you with your opponent Travonne Hobbs? Have you watched any videos on him?
SGJ: They actually just gave me Hobbs as my opponent about two weeks ago. He has a boxing video, and a MMA video where he lost to Carlos Diego Ferreira. I didn’t really get to see too much (of his fights). Supposedly he’s a a boxer, so I was looking at his striking.
If I get the opportunity to take him down, I will submit him.
EM: Anything you’d like to say to MMA fans who are thinking of attending on Friday night?
SGJ: Yes definitely. Of course, for all the local people here in the Valley, friends and family, I appreciate everyone supporting me on September 5th. It will be my third professional fight. I can’t wait to go out there, and fight again here at home, to show everyone what I am capable of. Of course, I want to thank all my sponsors — TGS The Gotch Special, thank you guys for sponsoring me. OHQ brand, My Rival Gear, Quick Pic Meat Market, and Quad Force Fitness Couture in McAllen. Thanks everyone for the support, I really appreciate it. Come out and support “El Torito” Gonzalez from Edinburg.
EM: Thank you for your time.
SGJ: Thank you man.