Mineral Wells Index
By CLINT FOSTER
DALLAS – Mineral Wells' own Isaiah Gutierrez is undefeated as a professional mixed martial arts fighter.
The 21-year-old emerged victorious in his pro debut with Xtreme Knockout on May 10 at Super Fight Weekend in Dallas Convention Center, beating his opponent, Phat Chau, in three rounds by TKO.
"Overall, it went pretty good," Gutierrrez said of his first foray into the pros. "I'm actually pretty glad that it went three rounds. I want to feel like I've actually been in a fight. A lot of times, my fights will be over in the first round. It's like you do all this hard work and then that's it.
"It may sound weird, but I want to wake up the next morning and feel a little banged up and worn out like, 'Man, I just got in a fight yesterday.' It wasn't anything serious, but I woke up and I felt like I'd gotten into a fight. That's a good feeling. I think I got him a lot worse."
Gutierrez's fight was the culmination of an eight-year journey that saw the 5-foot-8, 145-pound flyweight build a 4-1 record on the amateur circuit before making the coveted leap to the pro ranks.
His first pro opponent, Chau, would present a significant challenge, particularly considering Gutierrez knew virtually nothing about him outside of a near fight the two had about three years ago that never came to fruition.
Unknowns aside, it was a fight Gutierrez felt confident he could win going in.
"They said he was pretty tough, so I was just prepared for anything," he said. "I didn't really know what to expect.."
While preparing for his bout backstage, Gutierrez said his mind instantly went to back to everything he had gone through to prepare him for this moment.
"When I was getting warm, I was actually thinking about when I was younger," he said. "I've been wanting to do this for a while and I've worked really hard and sacrificed a lot of stuff. I was actually thinking about how when I was younger and I would imagine what it would feel like to be at my first pro fight. It was a pretty cool moment, almost like I was having a flashback or something to when I was 16 and wondering what it would be like."
When it came time to walk out to the octagonal cage, Gutierrez's intro music of "Donald Trump" by Mac Miller pulsed over the loudspeaker. In that moment, he said the rest of the world went quite and his focus shifted exclusively to the task at hand. He said he barely noticed the sizable Convention Center crowd.
"Once you walk out there, you really don't pay attention to things," he said. "Your music comes on and you're just focused on the fight. I was pretty pumped up. It was a pretty cool moment."
With his coach, Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Travis Lutter, in his corner, Gutierrez was ready for the most important fight of his life.
The bell rang. Round one.
Gutierrez landed a few solid punches right off the bat, but quickly discovered that Chau would not go down easily. A predominantly Chau-backing crowd erupted when he took Gutierrez down and got in a few good elbows and punches before Gutierrez found a way to reverse out.
"When he took me down, I was thinking, 'Ok, I need to do something,'" Gutierrez said. "I wasn't really worried, but at the same time I had an urgency to me. I couldn't just sit there and keep getting hit, I had to do something. But I just stayed calm and just worked my way up."
After fighting his way back up, Gutierrez landed a heavy blow with his right fist to Chau before the end of the round.
The second round began much like the first. Gutierrez landed a few good shots before Chau went in for the takedown. Gutierrez fought it off initially, but was forced into the chain-link wall of the cage where Chau found a way to lift him up and slam him to the mat.
Although Gutierrez said the second takedown didn't hurt too bad, he worried that it might look bad to the judges and quickly scrambled off the ground. Yet again, Gutierrez landed a few solid shots before the bell rang.
At this point, Gutierrez said he felt like he was on the ropes and would have to end things quickly in the third round.
But in retrospect, Gutierrez said he realized the loud crowd behind Chau truly had an impact on his perception of the fight. It wasn't until he watched the fight later that Gutierrez said he realized he was actually doing a good job.
"His side of the crowd was crazy loud," he said. "It was hard for me to even hear my corner. I thought I was down the first two rounds [because of the noise], but really, looking back on it without the sound, it was a completely different story. It looked like I was winning and maybe sometimes we were tied. But the crowd, it was crazy how much it seemed like they were affecting what was going on. He could do one little thing and the crowd would go crazy."
All outside factors aside, Gutierrez put it in his mind that the third round would be the last in his first pro bout.
"[Chau] was pretty tired," Gutierrez recalled of the beginning of round three. "He backed up into the corner and I was catching him with some hits. I threw a kick at him, he ducked under it though. So, I just kind of jumped on him and hit him with two uppercuts and a knee. He sprawled out and after that I just kept hitting him until the ref stopped it."
And so ended the first fight of Gutierrez's pro career.
At first, Gutierrez said he didn't realize the margin by which he had won. But after looking for his opponent backstage to shake hands, a mildly-bruised Gutierrez discovered just how severe of a beating Chau had sustained.
"I didn't really notice it after the fight, because they cleaned him up," he said. "But after the fight, I was going to tell him 'Good job,' and we couldn't find him. We found him backstage and he was throwing up and had two cuts on him. His nose and lip were bleeding.
"I told him 'Good job,' but he was on the ground throwing up, so he just kind of put his hand up [to pound fists]. But he was pretty tough. He didn't want to stop. It was probably a good decision by the judge."
Gutierrez's father, Johnny, said he was proud of the way his son handled his first pro fight.
"The crowd was loud, but he did well," he said. "If [Chau] just went toward him without even hitting him, the crowd would go crazy. I wasn't ever really worried, per se. My only concern was how the judges would react. The kid was tough."
The younger Gutierrez said he knows there were things in his fight he didn't do well, but he intends to take the experience and learn from it and improve.
After collecting his winnings and other earnings from sponsorships, Gutierrez said he came away with between $1,000 and $1,500. It's a small step toward making a living off of the sport, but Gutierrez said he knows money and sponsors will continue to come if he continues to win.
"I just want to thank Team Lutter, Travis [Lutter], my sponsors and just everybody who came to the fight," he said. "It's always good to have people that you feel comfortable with in your corner."
Some of Gutierrez's sponsors included Mickey's Pub, AK Muffler and Tommy Rodriguez and his family.
Although his next fight is not yet scheduled, Gutierrez said he hopes to nail down something for July or August soon.
In the meantime, Gutierrez will continue to train and prepare for whatever the sport throws his way. It's his passion that's brought him to this point and has the potential to carry him as far as he wants to go.