“People who do this sport for clout or even because they like watching it on TV, they don’t last very long. Pride will get you hurt in this game.”
Mando Gutierrez is a featherweight stud fighting out of Murcielago MMA in Michigan. He makes his professional MMA debut at Lights Out Championship 5 on September 7th.
After a perfect 7-0 amateur career, “El Toro” looks to go 1-0 next month against Mike Thompson. Both men are 0-0 heading into their bout on a card headlined by former UFC fighter Amanda Cooper and Jamie Milanowski.
“By far the best camp I’ve had up until this point.”
Gutierrez is looking good and feeling great ahead of his fight. With a newly added strength and conditioning program for this camp, Mando feels it has taken him to the next level.
“I’m still relatively new in the game, there’s still a lot of things I gotta piece together,” said Gutierrez. “I’m just a student of the game so I’m trying to learn as I go.”
Feeling more prepared than ever before going to war, Gutierrez has learned to listen to his body during training. He’s focused on timing everything differently and ensuring he maintains his weight. Learning new skills combined with his already solid wrestling, Gutierrez is making noise on the regional scene. He has easily become a fighter fans should watch closely over the next few years.
It all begins with wrestling.
Like most, Gutierrez started out wrestling, a base that most successful mixed martial artists have today. Although he has wrestled his whole life, Mando admits he started a bit later than most. But it was his dedication to being the best that got him up to par fairly quick.
“I gun for the top, even when I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing,” said Gutierrez. “No matter what, I always just want to be the best at everything I do.”
His hyper focused mentality has led to being touted as having one of the most impressive amateur careers in recent memory. The compliments are nice, but for the 145-pound killer, he’s, “just putting in the work and letting success speaks for itself.”
“I always told every body that back when I was wrestling, my problem was I was never as good as the people I surrounded myself with,” said Gutierrez. “I was always better in my head than I actually was.”
Mando will admit that he did things for attention and made decisions that didn’t benefit him growing up. One of those decisions was walking on to the one team that did not offer him a scholarship.
But things didn’t go as planned.
You could only imagine why “El Toro” hasn’t felt the need to address his past- “it’s embarrassing.” He’s aware of what people say about him, but knows he has nothing to prove. Good or bad, it no longer phases him.
“I’m doing this so I don’t have to live with the regret for the rest of my life of basically messing up my entire wrestling career.”
Mando has always known he had untapped potential. Over time, this failure would become the recipe for his hustle, drive, and success. “It broke me down, not because I couldn’t handle the pressure or the practices,” said Gutierrez. “But because I was at the bottom of the totem pole, and there was no way in hell I was going to reach the top in the short time I had.”
Sometimes failures bring out the best in us, for Mando, it’s been the title of a long chapter highlighting his amateur career and life before fighting. A chapter he’s ready to close for the new one he’s about to begin writing.
“I know for a fact in my mind, I can go all the way. The day I started this is the day I knew I would go all the way.”
He knows this part of his life is a regret he can’t live with or go through twice in a lifetime. So having issues with eligibility during high school and attending a school only to brag will only be a small part of the story.
Time to turn pro.
In today’s MMA, fighters go pro after taking 3 or 4 fights at amateur. With a 7-0 record, Mando decided it was time, especially when he had the, “perfect recipe.” He feels he has the perfect team, environment, and attitude to have a successful run in the sport. And with a team full of talented fighters, he knew that no amateur fighter could do to him what his training partners haven’t already done.
“All the guys in my gym are way bigger than me, way stronger than me, way more technical. Gritty. Mean. And they are tough.”
If people looked up Murcielago MMA, they’ll see the gym’s numbers speak for themselves. “None of this is happening by mistake,” said Gutierrez. “Those guys are all killers.” Mando goes to practice fist fighting every day and says he gets pushed because his “training partners have no problem being bullies.”
Having someone like Rashad Evans as a mentor in the game has also proven beneficial for the young fighter and is a big factor for Gutierrez turning pro. Since fights are “just wrestling matches with punches” for Mando, he’s more than ready to get that first pro win under his belt.
The future is very bright.
The wrestler-turned-Barber-turned-MMA fighter is currently a two-promotion amateur champion and started his career at lightweight. Fighting at 145 pounds now, Gutierrez knows that fighting at bantamweight may be in his near future.
“That’s been the plan all along [move to bantamweight].”
Even with plans of a potential weight cut in mind, Mando is solely focused on making a statement for all pro featherweights near the area. He’ll start with Thompson next week and won’t stop there.
“Pride will get you hurt. I think he’s [Mike Thompson] fighting me for pride,” said Gutierrez. “I think he’s fighting me so he can tell people he has balls to fight somebody good. But, that shit will get you hurt in this game.”
Mando knows he’s on a completely different level than his opponent. He hasn’t seen any film on Mike, however, has witnessed him getting choked out in the first minute of his last fight.
“Who am I to say no to any fight? We are professionals now. If you want to get me paid to beat you up, fine by me.”
With a few things up his sleeve, he promises this fight will be his most entertaining so far.
“That’s a guarantee.”
Mando “El Toro” Gutierrez knows that one day, he will be on a bigger stage. However, he’s in no rush to get there and looks forward to becoming a company man for Lights Out Championship. He makes his professional debut on Sept. 7th in Grand Rapids, Michigan and after that it’s back to cutting hair.
Listen to our full interview with Mando Gutierrez on The Scrap’s official SoundCloud:
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Joel Torres is a co-owner of The Scrap and its current CEO. Torres is obsessed with MMA and holds a Masters of Science in Integrated Design, Business and Technology from University of Southern California. Make sure to follow Joel on Twitter (@joelisacoolkid).