Former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight No. 1 contender Gabriel "Napao" Gonzaga made short work of his UFC 91 opponent, Josh Hendricks, finishing the UFC newcomer by technical knockout in 61 seconds. Gonzaga hopes his recent back-to-back wins in the Octagon are the first steps on the journey back to another title shot.
"I'm here to do well, to get my title shot again," the Brazilian told MMAWeekly.com. "If you keep on winning, someday I'm going to have the opportunity again."
Gonzaga was highly regarded when he made his Octagon debut at UFC 56 three years ago on Nov. 19, 2005, knocking out Kevin Jordan with a superman punch. He finished Fabiano Scherner with strikes and submitted CarmeloMarrero in his next two performances in the cage. But it was his devastating knockout of Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic at UFC 70 that put Gonzaga on the MMA map.
Following those successes, Gonzaga was defeated by then UFC heavyweight titleholder Randy "The Natural" Couture at UFC 74. He sat in attendance, after fighting earlier on the card, and witnessed Brock Lesnar defeat Couture at UFC 91. Asked his opinion of the newly crowned champ, Gonzaga commented, "I think he's a really good wrestling guy. He's got to learn to throw punches and kicks, but it just takes time. You know?
"You can be healthy and athletic, but to learn something, it takes a while to learn," added the 29-year-old fighter. "He has a huge background in wrestling. But you need to know ground game and stand up to be complete. I think he's ready and I think he could be there for a while if he learns it. But it takes time."
Gonzaga and Lesnar could be on a future collision course. Questioned how he thinks he matches up with former collegiate wrestling national champion and WWE superstar, Gonzaga said, "I think my size is good to beat him. And if I put my game to work, I believe today I have more experience from Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, boxing and Muay Thai skills than he has just wrestling. But he's huge."