Initially slated to compete against Ruslan Magomedov at Sunday's UFC Fight Night 86 in Zagreb, Croatia, "Napao" will now take on Derrick Lewis, who replaces the injured Russian on the April 10 card. Coming off a lackluster win over Konstantin Erokhin in December, the Brazilian feels he’s not the one to blame.
"It wasn’t exciting because my opponent walked backwards all the time," Gonzaga told MMAFighting.com. "My style is always the same, to go for the finish. I almost tapped him, but controlled the entire fight."
Gonzaga opened a new gym ahead of his 22nd UFC bout, Squared BJJ, and feels more motivated than ever for his clash with "The Black Beast", who holds a 5-2 UFC record with all of his bouts ending by knockout.
"I’m training to finish him by submission or knockout. I’m training hard to do my best in the fight," he said. "Jiu-jitsu has always been my main focus, but no one pulls guard. You have to take your opponent down, and you need perfect timing to do so. If I shoot recklessly, he has good elbows and is dangerous."
The change of opponents exactly a month before the fight didn't affect him much in terms of game plan, says the former heavyweight title contender.
"The strategy is to strike first to open spaces and go to the ground," said Gonzaga. "He’s coming off good wins, he’s a heavy and strong guy, so I have to be careful. With heavyweights, one punch can make the difference."