Saturday, February 24, 2024

Chris Gutierrez: UFC Fight Night 233 main event win over Song Yadong ‘pushes me closer to a title fight’

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LAS VEGAS – Chris Gutierrez is ready to shine in his first octagon headliner against Song Yadong on Saturday at UFC Fight Night 233.

With just one defeat in his past 10 bouts, Gutierrez (20-5-2 MMA, 8-2-1 UFC) has become a relevant name in the bantamweight division. He’ll have the chance to add to that against Yadong (20-7-1 MMA, 9-2-1 UFC) in their headliner at the UFC Apex, which streams on ESPN+.

“It’s a good matchup,” Gutierrez told MMA Junkie and other reporters at Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night 233 media day. “It’s a tough task on both ends. I’m well prepared. I have a good team behind me, a good support system. And I believe I have the tools to win.”

Gutierrez will look to break into the USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie bantamweight rankings at UFC Fight Night 233 against No. 9 Yadong. He is embracing the role of the betting underdog and thinks he will thrive in that position because he feels he’s been in that position his entire life.

It’s a style-friendly matchup, too. Both men prefer to keep their fights standing, and have found much success in that area. Yadong is tied for the third-most knockout wins in 135-pound history, while Gutierrez is the only fighter in company history to have finishes by leg kick, spinning back fist and flying knee.

If all plays out accordingly, Gutierrez and Yadong will give the fans a striking battle until one of them falls.

“Reality is, he’s going to try to punch a hole through my face,” Gutierrez said. “I’m going to try to kick a hole through his face. So, that’s the reality. Two good strikers meet and two different styles clashing. I look at it as a beautiful thing.”

If Gutierrez, 31, can emerge triumphant at UFC Fight Night 233, he said more big opportunities are going to come his way. The UFC bantamweight division is arguably the deepest on the roster and with a potentially transcendent star like Sean O’Malley holding the belt, it’s only going to get more difficult to break through.

Gutierrez is patient, but knows a win over Yadong takes him closer to the overall career goal.

“I think it pushes me closer to a title fight. I think I bring something exciting to the division. A different style, a different meaning to it. I’m excited. I’m blessed to be here.”

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