Sometimes opportunity knocks. But opening the door doesn’t mean that it won’t just keep hitting you in the face. That’s the hard lesson that flyweight Ulysses Gomez learned at UFC on Fox 4 in August of last year.

As a multi-divisional champion under the Tachi Palace Fights promotion, Gomez was called upon on just two weeks’ notice to take on John Moraga at the UFC event in Los Angeles. Unfortunately for the Las Vegas fighter, he was finished for the first time in his career.

Now, as Gomez prepares for his second fight in the Octagon against Phil Harris at UFC on Fuel TV 7 and Moraga has been tabbed as the new No. 1 contender for the 125-pound strap, Gomez can’t help but wonder how the fight would have been different had he not taken it on short notice.

“I would like to have a full camp and fight John again to see what the outcome is,” Gomez told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview. “That way we can determine if [short notice] was really a factor or not.”

What made the loss harder to digest for Gomez was the fact that it came on Fuel TV in front of a much larger audience than his past fights.

“Getting knocked out in the first round in front of my family and hundreds of thousands of people [on TV]? I guess it wasn’t that bad,” joked Gomez with a heavy dose of sarcasm.

Gomez will now look to right the ship and work toward his goal of being a UFC champion. However, he faces an entirely new hurdle in his upcoming bout: international travel and fighting in his opponent’s backyard.

“It’s on my mind a little bit,” admitted Gomez about how the travel will affect his body. “I’m leaving eight days early as opposed to five days like everyone else. I think those extra three days will give me time to get acclimated and get my weight where it needs to be. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal.”

Against Harris, Gomez will face an opponent with nearly three times as many fights, but who also dropped his UFC debut in the fall of last year via submission. Armed with a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt and seven out of nine wins by way of tapout, the Cobra Kai-trained fighter is looking to exploit Harris’ sub defense.

“We’ll have to see where Phil wants to take the fight,” explained Gomez. “I see him taking me down and finishing him off my back.”

It’s easy to see why Gomez is confident of the outcome given that five of the Brit’s 10 losses have come on the ground, including three by triangle choke. But it’s more than just a submission win that Gomez will be fighting for come Feb. 16, as he feels that back-to-back losses may leave him looking for employment.

“I have to go out there and pressure this guy,” he declared. “I’m telling myself that if I don’t make weight, I’m out of a job. If I don’t win the fight, I’m out of a job.”

With how unforgiving the promotion has been with underperforming fighters of late, it’s easy to see why Gomez is eager to prove that he belongs. Come Saturday, he’ll have the chance to show it.

Follow Ulysses on Twitter: @uselessgomez

Photo: Ulysses Gomez (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

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