For former Tachi Palace Fights (TPF) flyweight champion Ulysses Gomez, the path back to title contention has taken a bit of a detour. After taking a few months off to gather himself and revaluate his training, Gomez is back and ready to step into the cage once again. The catch? He’ll be competing at bantamweight on Aug. 5.

Gomez recently took the time to speak with The MMA Corner about his upcoming fight, the changes to his training, and touched on the unique position of having a sibling that is also a professional athlete.

The 135-pound division is not completely foreign to Gomez, as he competed in the season three Bellator bantamweight tournament, but was forced out of his semifinal bout with eventual tournament kingpin Zach Makovsky due to injury. But after such a successful run at 125 pounds, the decision to jump back up has a logical explanation.

“(It was) timing,” explained the former titleholder. “By the time I wanted to fight, all of the other top flyweights were booked for fights. Fighting an up-and-comer at 125 (pounds) doesn’t really do anything for me, so it was either stay on the shelf until November or December, or move up. So I said screw it; it’s a little easier of a cut for me.”

Gomez (l) battles Darrell Montague (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

In his way sits undefeated wrestler Drew Bittner. The 4-0 fighter has trained with Darrell Montague, the very man who took Gomez’s belt in February. It’s a fact that doesn’t bother the Las Vegas-based fighter at all. With a decorated grappling resume that includes pankration and a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Gomez is ready no matter where the fight goes.

“It seems like he’s a better wrestler, but I’m more comfortable on my feet,” Gomez said of Bittner. “He said that he’s okay with taking me to ground because he’s not scared of my ground game, but that’s what they all say (laughing). I’m going to force him to take me down after I put some hands on him.”

The newfound confidence in his hands comes from the work he has put in over the past six months with Gil Martinez at Xtreme Couture. In the past, Gomez spent the majority of his time training at Cobra Kai with Marc Laimon. For this camp, Gomez made the decision to change up his regimen.

“I’ve been working with Gil a lot. I wish I had made the change sooner,” acknowledged the rejuvenated fighter. “And working with them certainly hasn’t hurt my wrestling.”

Heading into his tenth professional fight, Gomez is quite familiar with the confines of Tachi Palace Fights, with the lone Bellator bout being his only excursion away from the California-based promotion. With rumors of the UFC adding the 125-pound division within the year, Gomez is excited by the idea of competing on a bigger stage, but isn’t looking past Bittner.

“I love fighting for TPF. They have never treated me badly and it’s a great organization,” Gomez said. “But I’d love to be on a bigger stage like UFC or Bellator (again).

“The way I look at it is that I have to get past Drew. It doesn’t matter if the UFC adds the 125-pound division if I don’t get past this guy.”

The competitive spirit and focus that Gomez possesses is something that is deeply ingrained in his blood. Ulysses’ older brother Herculez is a forward for the US Men’s National Soccer Team and currently plays for Estudiantes Tecos in the Primera División de México.

Gomez opened up about the unique situation of having two professional athletes in his family, “It’s interesting. People will ask me who the better athlete is, but I have trouble understanding that question. The sports are so different. He’s the better soccer player, but I’m the better fighter.”

(Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

So, should MMA and soccer fans expect to see the older Gomez in the cage anytime soon?

“No, he never grapples or boxes with us because he can’t afford to get hurt,” Gomez explained. “But he does strength and conditioning with us.”

Growing up and living in Las Vegas, a town that has a solid soccer niche, has allowed Ulysses to easily follow his brother’s career.

“It’s cool to watch him play on TV,” declared the younger Gomez. “People will come up and say they saw my brother score a goal.”

While Ulysses hears from people about his brother’s achievements, he’ll hope the roles are reversed following this weekend’s fight.  Perhaps people will approach Herculez instead, telling him they saw his brother score another win inside the cage.

Look for Ulysses in action on Friday, Aug. 5, from Lemoore, Calif., as Tachi Palace Fights 10 will stream live and free on Sherdog.com at 5:30 p.m. PST.

Top Photo: Ulysses Gomez walks away from a submitted opponent (Tracy Lee/Combat Lifestyle)