Fernando Gonzalez: Karo Parisyan gave me that extra motivation to take my career to the next level

Fernando Gonzalez turned 31 two weeks ago and on his birthday, Bellator called him to see if he would be interested in being elevated to the co-main event of Friday’s Bellator 127 against Karo Parisyan.Fernando Gonzalez

Gonzalez (21-13) was already scheduled to be on the card as he was booked to face Justin Baesman on the preliminary card. He immediately accepted the fight and will be looking for his second win in Bellator.

He made his promotional debut earlier this year and defeated former welterweight tournament winner Karl Amoussou by decision. At that time, Bjorn Rebney was running Bellator and Gonzalez said this week that he is thankful that Rebney gave him the opportunity to compete in Bellator.

“I know we have Scott Coker now, but I owe a lot to Bjorn Rebney, because he looked at me and obviously saw something in me and gave me the opportunity to fight Karl Amoussou,” Gonzalez said, “And that’s what got me this opportunity to fight Karo Parisyan on Spike TV.”

Gonzalez does have history with Parisyan as they met a couple of years ago at a King of the Cage event. He was introduced to Parisyan by the owner of the promotion, but Gonzalez feels that his opponent on Friday night does not remember them meeting.

“I have a little history with Karo Parisyan that he probably won’t remember,” Gonzalez said. “He doesn’t remember me but I met him a few years ago. And this is weird, because it’s like everything is falling into place – when they offered this to me, I said, ‘I want that fight!’ I met Karo at King of the Cage right around the time when he was about to fight Matt Hughes. Terry Trebilcock, owner of King of the Cage, introduced me to Karo and said, ‘This is Fernando Gonzalez, he’s one of our best up-and-coming guys.’ I put my hand out to shake the guy’s hand — and he just ignored it and looked me up and down. I swear to god — the way he looked at me was just like I was trash or I was nothing. He just made a ‘psssshht’ sound and looked away from me.”

“That was early on in my career, but I remember saying to myself to that very day: ‘If I ever make 170, I’m fighting that guy. One day, dude. One day I’m going to meet up with you.’ And they actually called me about this fight on my birthday! September 15th. So I was like oh my god, I’m on it. I’m taking this fight.

“I was at 185 at the time and probably looked a little pudgy, so I’m sure Karo was like, ‘Who the hell is this fat ass?’ If it wasn’t for mixed martial arts and all the changes I’d gone through — man, I had to bite down to hold back from punching him in the face right there. You know? You don’t do that to nobody. You don’t just not shake their hand. I was a huge fan of his at the time! I had a ton of respect for the guy. He’d just beaten Nick Diaz, who’s another guy I respect a lot. I just said ‘one day …’ and now that day is here.”

Parisyan will likely be a heavy favorite on the betting odds, since he has won back to back fights in Bellator and is a known fighter. Gonzalez enters this fight with the old cliche, he has everything to gain and nothing to lose, while it’s the opposite for Parisyan.

“All the pressure’s on Karo,” he said. “I have nothing to lose and he’s expected to win. I’m the nobody. Win, lose or draw, I just go out there and put on a sick performance and I’m one of the top-ten guys in Bellator. I know I can beat this guy, and I have all the motivation to do so. He’s one of the guys that I’ve been dying to fight for a long time.”

“Karo’s thing is that he’s really aggressive. I was training to close the distance against Justin Baesman but I expect Karo to move forward a lot, so he’ll close the distance for me. That’ll make it easier for me. I’ve been training Greco-Roman wrestling at Team Quest and I’ve been training Jiu-Jitsu for a long time, but I think this fight will be decided on the feet.”

Gonzalez does have one message for Parisyan and the message is just two word, “thank you.”

“The only message I have for Karo is ‘thank you.’ It’s nothing personal. He gave me that extra motivation to take my career to the next level,” Gonzalez said. “I knew that 205 and 185 weren’t my weight classes. I was eating too much and not taking it seriously. I knew that I had to dedicate myself and commit to 170 to be successful. I was ready to fight Karo at Gladiator Challenge when I first moved to 170 for five-hundred or a thousand bucks. Now I get to fight Karo for good money on a huge stage. So thank you, Karo. Thanks for giving me the motivation and giving me the opportunity to fight you.”