Anthony Gutierrez had a chance to become the next winner of The Ultimate Fighter last year.
However, Gutierrez fell victim to some intense weight cutting over the six weeks the show was filmed and failed to secure his UFC contract.
Gutierrez (4-0) will return to the cage this month at Titan FC 27, taking on Charlie DuBray in Kansas City February 28.
With Titan FC starting back up under new owner Jeff Aronson, Gutierrez (4-0) decided to take full-advantage of competing back in the place he has spent several rounds in.
“Titan FC is the best fit for me right now,” said Gutierrez, during an interview with FightLine. “It is the best option.
“After TUF, I had an offer to go to Bellator and I looked into (World Series of Fighting), but Titan FC provided me with a chance to compete and make good money.”
Despite being just 23 years old, Gutierrez understands the business side of MMA.
“If you can go up to a sponsor and tell them you are fighting on television for a network like CBS Sports instead of just competing on a prelim and maybe getting on TV like I would have gotten signing with Bellator, it makes total sense,” he said. “The main thing right now is about making money. I’m not working other than teaching a boxing class in Kansas City, so I have to pay the bills.
“When I got my release from The Ultimate Fighter, my goal was to fight on TV. Titan FC offers that.”
Gutierrez also acknowledged that he has heard of issues getting out of contracts with some promotions if the UFC comes calling. Titan FC has an out for any fighter to sign with Zuffa if they decide to take that option.
“Bellator has had a lot of contract issues,” he said. “In no way am I comparing myself to Ben Askren or Eddie Alvarez (who both had issues with Bellator contracts), but I have had training partners who have had issues getting out of them.
“With Titan, I know the promoter and have that UFC out I can take without fulfilling my contract.”
Training at Grindhouse
Years ago, the Midwest was a hotbed for MMA, as Pat Miletich had his camp based in Iowa and others were coming from this part of the U.S.
Now, most of the main camps are in New Mexico, Florida, California and along the East Coast.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t excellent ones in the Midwest, says Gutierrez, who trains out of Kansas City’s Grindhouse.
“We have a lot of good talent at Grindhouse,” he said. “I train with Tim Elliott, James Krause, Zak Cummings….at least 10 other pros that no one has ever really heard of, but are all on the brink.
“We’ve grown from just James, Zak and I into this team that is a family. I know a lot of MMA gyms, they bring in guys and take them in to become a family; we started training together from day one and are a true family.”
Gutierrez says that kind of atmosphere has helped everyone, including himself, become all-around MMA fighters.
“We train every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then go out for lunch,” he said. “On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we do CrossFit at the same place together. Afterwards, we’ll go to Tim’s a lot to eat.
“We just have each others back.”
While he didn’t have the most picture-perfect time on TUF, it is something Gutierrez wouldn’t hesitate to tell others to do – with one exception.
“I would recommend to any 135-pounders that maybe walk around normally between 156-157 to go and stick around 145 while on the show,” he said. “Three weight cuts in six weeks is just crazy, it’s brutal.
“That is one think I didn’t think about before the show was making weight three times in six weeks; it’s crazy.
“I know several guys have done it and did it on the show, but it was brutal. Those guys were killing themselves, which they didn’t really show. It’s all part of the game, but it’s just brutal.”
Gutierrez also said the schedule given to the fighters was something that caused him trouble.
“Being away from family for six weeks, and friends, wasn’t that hard,” Gutierrez said. “Having no music. No movies. No books. That was difficult.
“Our schedule was set; we would get up, have a two-hour morning practice, go back to the house and do nothing until like 5:30 when we would go for another two-hour practice. Factor in eight hours for sleep, and you are staring at a wall for 12 hours. There was just a lot of boredom in the house.”
Still, he said “it was a sacrifice I would make again because it is an incredible opportunity. I would 100-percent tell anyone to do it, just be mindful of the weight cuts.”
Where did “Sharkbait” come from?
Gutierrez holds one of the more distinct nicknames in the sport of MMA in “Sharkbait.”
He details the origins of it, and admits things kind of just snowballed on their own in it becoming “official.”
“I started training at an early age and was smaller than I am now, and weaker,” he laughed. “I was pretty much training with bigger, more experienced guys.
“The guys I would train with just started calling me ‘Sharkbait.
“I was walking out for my first fight and James told them that was my nickname. It kind of just stuck from there on.”
Titan FC 27 fight
Gutierrez will be testing skills with a veteran of the sport in DuBray, who is 13-9 – meaning he has 18 more pro bouts.
“He has a lot of experience, is tall and left-handed,” Gutierrez said. “He has some skills, but I would like to think my skills are better.
“I have just been focusing on myself, bettering myself and improving each day.”
DuBray has won just three of his last eight fights, but topped Laramie Shaffer in December.
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