Not only was 2016 a successful year in terms of lightweight prospect Erick Gonzalez’s career with three straight wins, but he also feels it was a good year for the growth and development of his game.

In particular, Gonzalez is most happy with the way he’s been able to move in his fights and better implement the stand-up aspect of his game.

“2016 I want to say I definitely improved from the start to the end,” Gonzalez told MMAWeekly.com. “When it comes to my striking, putting combinations together, throwing kicks, just because it was a very technical way of moving – I felt the improvement.

“I would say in my game everything is clicking right, but I’m able to see the small little holes that I need to improve on. Like how to move my body, how to throw while I’m moving or defending myself, counter fighting.”

While he’s currently riding a four-fight winning streak, it’s been Gonzalez’s experience gained from his losses that he believes has helped his development the most.

“My first two losses; one as an amateur and one as a pro; definitely opened my game a lot to how I view myself as a fighter and the mistakes I made,” he said. “It’s made me more aware in aspects of my ground game and my striking.”

Gonzalez (6-1) will look to carry his momentum over into his first fight of 2017 when he takes on Danny Ramirez (5-2) in a main card 155-pound bout at Combate Americas 11 in Burbank, Calif., on Thursday.

“When it comes to the striking, that’s where I’ll be able to really blast on him, because watching a lot of his past footage, I don’t see too much striking coming out of him,” said Gonzalez of Ramirez. “I see him taking a lot of hits to the face and the guy having a tough chin.

“The way I’ll be able to finish this fight if I keep pushing the pace and my cardio all the way through up until the last possible minute. He tends to gas out near the end of the first round or at the start of the second round, so (I plan on) really pushing his limits.”

As Combate grows, so does Gonzalez feel he can be a big part of the promotion. With the introduction of championships to the company, Gonzalez sees that as his next logical step.

“Actually we’ve talked about that with the promoter and the Combate crew,” Gonzalez said. “They said the plan was if I won three fights it gave me the footing to get a title fight.

“It’s something that I’m definitely putting out there after this fight because I feel I do deserve it being one of the guys who is coming out with one the best records in Combate.”

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