Wilson Gouveia to MMA World: “I’m Not Dead; I’m Still Here”
UFC Vet Hoping to Make Statement at MFC 32
By Kelsey Mowatt
Depending on a person’s age or sense of time, it wasn’t that long ago that Wilson Gouveia was on the verge of establishing himself as one of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s top fighters. From 2006 through 2008, the American Top Team fighter went 6-2 with the promotion, scoring wins over veterans like Jason Lambert, Seth Petruzelli, Jason MacDonald and Ryan Jensen.
After TKO losses to Nate Marquardt and Alan Belcher in 2009, however, Gouveia was cut by the UFC, and in a follow up bout with the Maximum Fighting Championship last May, Gouveia lost by unanimous decision to Ryan Jimmo. The fighter’s struggles prompted some to wonder whether Gouveia’s best days might be behind him.
“I respect that,” Gouveia told FCF, when asked to respond to fans and critics who may have written him off. “People that like me want me to win, and the people that don’t want me to lose. You’re always going to have that. Of course I had some shame about what happened with myself, but you know, I think people are going to see a different kind of Wilson in January.”
Next month, Gouveia will return to action for the first time in approximately a year-and-a-half, when he takes on Canadian vet Dwayne Lewis at MFC 32 on January 27th. According to Gouveia, the extended layoff is the result of an injury that has plagued him for some time.
“Even after I fought Keith (Jardine), people noticed that I had tape on my lower back,” Gouveia reported. “I was dealing with this lower back problem; it’s been for a few years already. It’s just been bothering me, and every time I had a training camp, it would really bother me. I wanted to keep fighting, so I never really stopped to really fix it and do some therapy.”
“After the Jimmo fight I finally decided to take some time to rest and recover,”” Gouveia added. “I took the time to really fix my lower back. I never had to do any kind of surgery; I did therapy for about eight, ten weeks, and now I feel like new…I’m 100% now and I’m very happy.”
Due to the fact that the BJJ black belt and ten year plus vet operates the ATT facility in Miramar, Florida, Gouveia had the security in place that allowed him to sit back and recover.
“I’m comfortable financially,” said Gouveia, “I’m not fighting because I need to make money. I thank God that I’m stable financially. I’m not rich, but I have a successful gym, and now I just teach the mornings and take the rest of the day to train and rest. I’m very luck that I don’t have to worry about that anymore.”
“The pay check is nice, but I’m fighting because I really want to win,” Gouveia furthered. “I really want to give to my personal fans what they deserve. I don’t want to show up out of shape just because I want to get paid. I want to show up in really good shape and show the world what I’m really capable of.”
In Lewis, Gouveia will face one of the MFC’s more powerful strikers, who is also coming off a loss to the promotion’s light-heavyweight champ and UFC bound Jimmo. During his tenure with the MFC, Lewis has earned victories over established vets like Mike Nickels, Razak Al-Hassan, and Marvin Eastman.
“That’s a good question,” said Gouveia, when asked what strategy he might employ against Lewis next month. “With no disrespect to my opponent, I really respect Dwayne and my future opponents, and I know he’s a tough fight, but I never really spent time yet trying to figure that out. I’ve just spent time focusing on myself, my jiu-jitsu, my wrestling, my striking and especially my conditioning.”
As Gouveia mentioned, conditioning could play a key role in his upcoming bout more than usual, due to the fact that his fight with Lewis is scheduled for five rounds.
“This is the first time they’ve shown up with this kind of five round fight,” said Gouveia. “I don’t know if Dwayne asked or what, and it’s not a title fight, but if they did I think it’s funny because they’re going to be very wrong. My conditioning is crazy….They’re going to be very surprised. If they want to put ten rounds I have no problem with that. I hope Dwayne can take the punishment for five rounds.”
“My main concern right now is to get back in there and show fans that I’m still good,” Gouveia furthered. “After my last three fights, this is a really important fight. This is a fight where I want to show up and make a statement; I want people to realize that I’m not dead. I’m still here.”
Photo via American Top Team Miramar