Gabriel Gonzaga has come a lot from hitting the mats as a pure jiu-jitsu practitioner. As of Saturday, the former UFC title challenger is officially a winning professional boxer.
Gonzaga (1-0) made a successful pro boxing debut on Rivera Promotions Entertainment’s “New England’s Future 4” card, taking a majority decision over Alejandro Esquilin Santiago (0-1) in the heavyweight co-headliner at DCU Center Exhibition Hall in Worcester, Mass.
“Napao” edged out the decision in the four-round fight by scores of 40-36, 40-36 and 38-38.
Gonzaga, a 22-fight UFC veteran who unsuccessfully challenged then-UFC champ Randy Couture for the title at UFC 74 in August 2007, hasn’t competed in MMA since a first-round knockout loss to Derrick Lewis at UFC Fight Night 86 in April 2016. He went a forgettable 1-4 in his past five octagon appearances.
Although the Brazilian was unable to stop his opponent inside the distance in the boxing fight, he did claim to be largely pleased with his performance.
“I thought I’d be more relaxed in the ring like I had been in the gym,” Gonzaga said. “I did my best and came away with a victory. I was too safe in the third round. My punches were much strong and a lot of his punches I blocked with my gloves. This was really great tonight!”
Gonzaga, 38, did not reveal his intentions for the future and whether he’ll attempt to continue to build a record as a boxer (via Instagram):
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