When it comes to the regional scene, the stage doesn’t get much bigger than LFA.
Gouthro, 25, said he’s looking forward to the opportunity to showcase his skills on the biggest stage he’s competed on so far in his young career, and said the bigger the spotlight, the more he thrives.
“I love all eyes on me. That’s one thing I love about fighting. I like to go out there and show everyone what I can do, and this is one of the biggest stages out there on UFC Fight Pass. I’ve never really been at that level yet,” said Gouthro in an interview with MMA Empire.
“With me, I find when I get a little nervous, I show up and I perform even better. The harder the fight, the bigger the stage, I find I can get in my flow zone much easier. I’m just happy to be in there.”
For Wetzell, 28, this will be his second time competing under the LFA banner, with his most recent outing being a quick 27-second knockout of Michael Aquila at LFA 79.
Wetzell said he’s hoping a strong and dominant performance on the LFA stage Friday night will be enough to earn that much-desired UFC call.
“LFA is the biggest feeder to the UFC. I’m not sure what the number is now, but a ridiculous amount of people in the UFC got their start under the RFA/Legacy/LFA banner,” said Wetzell in an interview with MMA Empire.
“If I can highlight, do well in this fight, and perform like I know I can, I’m hoping I can just skip the Contender Series line and be ready for a short notice call into the UFC. I’m ready.”
Gouthro ready for the step up
Not only will this be the biggest stage he’s competed on so far in his career, Gouthro is also preparing for the toughest opponent of his career in Wetzell.
Gouthro said he’s looking forward to testing his skills against an opponent of Wetzell’s calibre, and believes he’s ready for that step up in competition.
“This is a fight I kind of need to take, mentally. I feel very mentally strong about this fight, and I want to be tested now,” said Gouthro.
“When you look at my record, I’ve fought two 0-0 guys, and a 1-0. They’re all tough guys, they came to fight, but his record is 5-1, so it’s going to be nice to give him another L. Hopefully LFA sees what I can do and brings me back again.”
Joining Gouthro on the LFA 93 venture will be his teammate, Aaron Jeffery, who is set to headline the event against Andre Petroski.
This will be Gouthro’s first time competing on the same card as Jeffery, and he said he’s looking forward to the experience as a team.
“When I found out it was the same card as Aaron, I was pretty excited because I’m going down there with the team now,” said Gouthro.
“We’re both fighting, so it’s just going to be once I smash my guy, the energy level’s going to be really high. Aaron’s going to feed off my win, and I’m just going to be feeding off LFA.”
Gouthro and Jeffery train out of Niagara Top Team, a team that has been finding plenty of success recently.
Although they’re a smaller team, Gouthro said their success comes from hard work and feeding off of each other.
“We’re all hungry. We’re a small team and we’re not really known, but we’re just working hard. The success comes from all the hard work,” said Gouthro.
“Our coaches have us grinding every day. We’re training smart, we’re training hard, and everything is coming together. We don’t have to be in these huge camps to win. We’re just doing what we have to do, and the success is showing that.”
Wetzell growing following move to Elevation
Wetzell made the move to the renowned Elevation Fight Team four years ago where he has the luxury of training with the likes of Cory Sandhagen, Justin Gaethje, and Drew Dober.
Since making the move to Elevation, Wetzell said his game has improved leaps and bounds, and only continues to improve.
“It really rounded out my game. Where I’m from, I really only have two or three training partners, so coming out here I’m surrounded by individuals who have the same exact goal as me. Being around these individuals and learning from them is only giving me confidence I’m going to make it where they’re at,” said Wetzell.
“Seeing all my teammates win in the UFC, on the big stage, is really inspiring to me, and really boosts me more than ever to get there.”
Although he wasn’t in the cage for very long, Wetzell said his last fight truly showcased how much his game has evolved since joining Elevation Fight Team.
“If you watch a lot of my older fights, then you watch that fight, even though there was only 30 seconds, you’ll notice a huge change in my fighting style,” said Wetzell.
“Before, I was mostly a wrestling-based fighter and would just look to take it to the ground. But since I’ve been out here, I’ve worked on every aspect of my game, specifically my footwork and striking. If you watch my last fight, you’ll notice I switched stances a lot and created angles with my movement. That’s really what led to the knockout; it wasn’t just me throwing a punch and it landed.”
Wetzell was scheduled to compete two weeks ago at LFA 92 before his opponent, Jordan Mapa, was forced out of the contest at the last minute.
Wetzell said securing fights on the regional scene since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult, and he’s thankful to have secured this matchup so soon after the LFA 92 cancelation.
“It’s really hard to put into words how grateful I am. I was just sitting in my garage watching some old fights, and really strongly thinking to myself, talking to myself, and asking the gods to give me another opportunity,” said Wetzell.
“I’m 28, I’m not getting any younger, and in the fight game you have to take these fights in your twenties and stay active if you want to make it.”
“I’d like to thank all my coaches (Lyndon Whitlock, Lucas Bahdi, Chris Prickett, Matt DiMarcantonio), my strength and conditioning coach, Zac Spinosa, at Forge Fitness, my nutritionist, Matt Speciale, at Bearded Bites, and everyone from Niagara Top Team and Parabellum for giving me all the good work.” Follow Gouthro on social media: INSTAGRAM
“I’d like to thank my manager, Dodge Sports, for staying busy and helping me get this matchup, Elevation Fight Team, Easton Training Centre, High Altitude Martial Arts, and all my teammates.” Follow Wetzell on social media: FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM