Interview With Joey Gomez
What got you started in MMA? When did you know this was for you?
Gomez: I wrestled in high school and after that, I was done with wrestling completely. When I moved for college, I knew someone who was really into jiu jitsu. He told me to come into the gym one day and I loved it. After training for a few months, I was asked to fight in an amateur MMA event, and it was a great feeling. From there it just got more and more serious.
I didn’t realize what a big deal it was until I stepped into the ring and everybody was watching. I realized this is real. I didn’t have any boxing experience, just went in there and took him down. Ground and pound until the ref told me to stop.
You have the background in wrestling and some jiu jitsu before training in mixed martial arts. What discipline suits you most?
Gomez: I think these days you need it all to be successful. There’s so many good fighters. Over the years I’ve definitely sharpened up on all aspects of MMA. I’m more comfortable on the ground, but I like boxing, I try to use it more, get more experienced in the ring. But when it comes do to it, I’m most comfortable with jiu jitsu.
How do you handle the emotions of entering the ring?
Gomez: I always get nervous before the fight – everyone does even if they don’t admit it. Maybe it’s just natural. But when I step in there, everything just comes down to instinct. I don’t feel pressure or anything when the ref blows the whistle. I go in and do my thing.
How do you balance training/bouts with “real” life?
Gomez: I don’t have a wife or kids, so it works out for me in that sense. When it comes to training camp, it’s hard to have a social life or anything. All the focus is on training. My friends and family know what’s going on when a fight is coming up.
I just finished grad school in May and I was a therapist and social worker, worked mostly with teenagers, but adults too. I’m now starting a position at the Kulani Correctional Facility in Hilo. I’ll be working with the guys, making sure they aren’t treated too poorly, making sure their mental health is stable.