MMA has been dubbed the fastest growing sport in the world. Whether true or not, the increasing popularity of MMA fighters has mirrored the growth of MMA at large. No longer viewed as a barbaric sport lacking technique, skill or strategy, MMA has garnered the well-deserved attention of the mainstream. Now, fighters appear on billboards, television shows, are featured on the silver screen, endorse popular products and endorse, or even own, clothing lines, amid many other pursuits. Fighters are stars, role models, even icons. Fans fawn over them, seek autographs, pay premium prices to attend events, buy merchandise and swap paraphernalia; the casual observer may be led to think, ‘Geez… MMA fighters have it all.’ However, in pursuit of MMA success, popularity, and all other “gifts” adorned on a rising MMA fighter, at the proverbial end of the day, that same fighter may have nothing at the cost of success.

Such a story will not be written when chronicling the rising star that is Ulysses “Useless” Gomez. On Friday, hours before competing for the vacant Tachi bantamweight championship against Cody Gibson at Tachi Palace Fights 11 in Lemoore, Calif., Gomez will be sitting down to enjoy a meal with his family and loved ones. Surrounded by those close to him and grounded with faith, the fighter they call “Useless” will savor the moments spent with the most important people in his life. The calm before the storm is a common element to Gomez’s approach to fighting.

“I really don’t even think about my fight too much until I start doing the interviews and weigh-ins,” a relaxed Gomez told The MMA Corner.

(Ben Iliili/MMAKO.TV)

The poise he exhibits outside the cage is carried into the cage and present throughout his fights. Any MMA fan that has been blessed with the opportunity to see Gomez fight has surely been witness to his calm demeanor in the cage; a consummate professional, never rattled and incredibly efficient at taking his opponent out with a submission game that should be reckoned with, Gomez has his eyes set on the bantamweight belt and much more.

“All I do is train. My career at 135 is temporary. (However), my mad plan to take over the world… the way I look at it, when I win the belt at 135, (Tachi) can now justify giving me a title shot at 125,” Gomez explained.

Ulysses’ success is attributable to being a natural athlete, hard work and experience. Gomez’s brother is a professional soccer player who plays in the Primera División de México, and represented the U.S. National Team in the most recent World Cup. The hard work is evidenced by Gomez training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for ten years, and the experience is illustrated by the international exposure in grappling and pankration tournaments. When pressed to share whether his international experience is an advantage in his match against Gibson, the ever-humble Gomez defers with, “As far as experience, that is debatable, (Gibson) has been wrestling for ten years, having over 100 wrestling matches, and I have been grappling for ten years and have had over 100 matches. It’s my eleventh fight, (Gibson’s) seventh; kind of comparable, maybe a slight edge to me. But where I have an edge, this is my third title fight. I know I can go five rounds.”

The wealth of experience in grappling and pankration tournaments, including international exposure and his previous title fights has proven to be the ingredients for a successful career in MMA.

“Anytime you go out there and step on the mat in front of people you do not know, in a live setting, you are going to get better, it is a learning experience, you might not win but you are definitely going to learn. I am still learning from every fight,” Gomez said. The learning curve for “Useless” is not steep given his understanding and outlook on fighting.

“Mistakes are easy to correct, habits are hard to break,” said Gomez.

Gomez has his hand raised after submitting Drew Bittner at TPF 10 (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

More specifically, when analyzing the upcoming championship bout, Gomez offers respect to his opponent, but is confident in his game. When asked his knowledge of Gibson’s game, Ulysses said, “I heard he is a good wrestler, he is big and I am 5-foot-6 on a good day.”

But Useless knows style dictate match-ups, “Gibson is a lot taller than me, but when I fought (Travis) Reddinger, he is 5-foot-9 and I was able to take him down a couple of times, it is all about how they use their reach.”

Because styles make match-ups and a fighter does not know how the styles will collide once the cage closes, Gomez is understanding and willing to let the fight go with the flow.

“It is hard for me to say that I am not comfortable on the ground, because I have so many wins by submission and I have been training jiu-jitsu for ten years,” explained Gomez. “I prefer to be on top in a fight, but I try my best to work on every area of my game. But as far as this match, I have six wins by submission and Gibson’s only loss is by submission. So that is the path of least resistance.”

Gomez is unusual among fighters with a fledging career on the cusp of wide notoriety in that he never seems to lose perspective with respect to his path to prosperity.

“I really want to thank the fans, at this level, not being in the UFC,” said Gomez. “You know it means a lot being recognized for all of the hard work we do. It means the world to me when people stop me and say, ‘Yo man, I saw your fight on Bellator.’ That’s a real fan. It definitely warms your heart, because everyone wants to talk to an UFC fighter, but they don’t realize how hard it was to get there.”

As the fight approaches, the humble and gracious nature exhibited by Gomez will shine evermore as he provides insight into the journey to secure the Tachi bantamweight championship belt.

“After lunch, I give everyone in my family a hug and a kiss, say goodbye, and then about an hour before the fight, at the venue, I go and say hi to my family, then I don’t see them until the fights over,” Gomez said of his pre-fight procedure. “People don’t realize…yeah, this is my job, but I am a human being. I am a dad, a boyfriend, a brother, a son, that is who I am every day of my life. I am just a fighter for 15 to 25 minutes of my life.

“I don’t want to be that dude that has everything, but nothing. I don’t want to be that guy that everyone comes up to and tells me that they love my fights and that they respect me, but my family does not respect me because I was never around.”

Surely, the MMA community can respect “Useless” as both a man and a fighter.

Top Photo: Ulysses Gomez (L) has his hand raised by Herb Dean following his win over Drew Bittner at Tachi Palace Fights 10 (Ben Iliili/MMAKO.TV)

This piece was authored by Chase Buzzell. You can find Chase via his LinkedIn Profile.

About The Author

The MMA Corner Staff

Your home for all things MMA. News, Interviews, Event Coverage, Editorials. If it is MMA related, you will find it on The MMA Corner.

  • manny

    great article yoy got to love this man.

  • chase you allways give us great articles but this one with usselessis the best thanks we love it..

    • Thanks I appreciate it. Keep checking out we will always strive to provide the fans with the best information on MMA. Peace.

  • usseless gomez like you said you are blessed , and good is with you
    i can tell by the way you express your self, keep up the good work.