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Teshay Gouthro Hopes To Put On A Beautiful Performance | UFC FIGHT PASS

Canada's Teshay Gouthro Has High Hopes For His Upcoming Fight For The Unified MMA Interim Bantamweight Title

“It seems pretty normal, to be honest.”

That’s what Teshay Gouthro answered when asked about the tremendous success his teammates enjoyed at UFC 289 in Vancouver earlier in the month and how it motivates him heading into his battle with Eric Shelton on Friday night for the interim Unified MMA bantamweight title.

The contingent, which includes breakout performers Jasmine Jasudavicius and Mike Malott, combined to go undefeated, part of a perfect night for Canadian competitors inside the Octagon, as they turned in the kind of efforts that instantly put Niagara Top Team on the map in the larger MMA consciousness. But for Gouthro, this is all just part of what he’d always envisioned.

“I knew we were gonna be here, we were gonna go farther,” explained the 28-year-old, who carries a four-fight winning streak into this weekend’s championship showdown with Shelton at the Niagara Falls Convention Centre. “The way I equate it is that these are steppingstones for us.

“When we started, we started with nothing — not even a gym. (We were training) in parks, the basement of a restaurant, and even then, I was like, ‘It’s gonna be crazy what we’re gonna be able to achieve’ and now we’re doing it, so it’s kind of normal.

"Sometimes I sit back and it blows my mind, but this is just hard work,” he added. “This is what came to us because we worked for it.”

In many ways, Gouthro’s personal journey to this point echoes that of the gym he represents and the team that surrounds him.

Born premature to a 16-year-old mother in St. Catharines, Ontario, Gouthro’s childhood was colored and shaped by the things he saw around him — violence, drugs, poor choices, and broken homes. He was sent to live with his great grandmother, who was 64 at the time, and while she did her best to provide him a loving home and teach him good values, it can be difficult for those things to win out for a child that never knew his biological father and whose weekend visits with his mother spotlighted the grimy side of life.

Like plenty of kids, Gouthro and his siblings would play-fight and loved Dragon Ball Z, Power Rangers, and WWE, and when he saw the UFC for the first time, something rustled inside him.

“It was Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, and I remember being like, ‘I could do that!’” explained Gouthro, who had the added challenge of being a significantly overweight kid throughout high school.

“I got picked on, and I always ended up fighting because I was taught never to get disrespected,” he said. “I fought a lot. Welland was a big fight city — we’d fight to fight.”

His great grandmother and high school principal steered him towards MMA, enrolling him at Modern Vision MMA in Welland, and while he felt a connection with the sport, challenges at home and the quick returns of hustling continued to be the negative north star in Gouthro’s life.

Forced to move out on his own when his great grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the now 28-year-old prospect was, in his own words, “just a bad little f*****,” fighting and selling dope, venturing down paths that lead to nowhere good and a future with no real future. It continued that way once his mother moved back from Barbados, but she encouraged him to give MMA another try, and this time, it stuck.

“When I turned 18, it just kind of clicked in that I either got to go to school or get a job, and I knew that I had to get back to fighting,” began Gouthro, retracing his steps from young hustler with a violent streak to emerging bantamweight talent on the cusp of breaking into the big leagues in mixed martial arts. “I went to Vision for a year and once I started, I knew that was it.

“My biological mom moved back from Barbados, and I lived with her. Things weren’t going good, but she told me ‘You should go back to MMA.’ She pushed me towards that and then once I started at Muay Thai Niagara in St. Catharines, it just leapt off.

“I had my first fight in four months, fought five times my first year in kickboxing, and just kept fighting,” he added. “Fought internationally, fell in love with the sport, and seeing that people took notice as I traveled the world is how I lifted off.”

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Now eight fights into his professional MMA career and brandishing a 7-1 record, the compact, physical specimen is standing on the precipice of graduating to the next level, just a few days away from the kind of matchup every regional talent hopes to land at some point in their journey when he steps in with Shelton on Friday night.

The 32-year-old Shelton worked his way through the regional circuit and onto Season 24 of The Ultimate Fighter as one of the regional titleholders competing for the opportunity to face then-UFC flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson. He upset Canadian Yoni Sherbatov, the No. 2 seed, in the opening round, and then bested Ronaldo Candido to advance to the semifinals, where he fell to eventually tournament winner Tim Elliott by majority decision.

A six-fight run in the UFC produced just two victories, and since returning to the regional scene, “Showtime” has picked up wins over Dana White’s Contender Series alums Riley Dutro and Jacob Silva, establishing himself as one of the more established, talented names out there for emerging threats like Gouthro to potentially face.

“Patient, calculated boxer; he’s coming to win,” he said when asked what he’s seen from Shelton. “He’s got a high Fight IQ and I hope he brings the same s*** he’s been bringing the last three, four fights I’ve watched.

“He’s the biggest matchup, the hardest matchup out there right now that we could have taken because everyone else said, ‘No,’” Gouthro added, echoing the frustrations felt by many of the top up-and-coming regional talents who struggle to find opponents. “I told my coach and manager, ‘I’ll say yes to everyone as long as you’re down’ because we went this whole year with 60 people saying, ‘Yes,’ but when it came to contracts, saying ‘No,’ which is very stressful.

“I love this s***! I expected to fight three times by now, but it just didn’t happen. I guess I’ve been in camp all year, the body is good, so this whole patient, waiting thing has led to this opportunity.”

And just like he always envisioned his teammates having tremendous success and Niagara Top Team progressing from training in parks to doing big things on the biggest stages in the sport, Gouthro knows that Friday’s matchup is both a huge moment and just a small moment in the bigger scheme of things at the same time.

“I’ve been downplaying it a lot — this whole camp I’ve been downplaying it, just giving the guy respect — but now with all the interviews that have been coming, I’ve been talking about it more, and this is going to be a f****** moment, and it’s going to be my moment,” he said with a laugh. “It’s going to be a huge moment, but really, it’s a little moment in the journey I’m on.”

Big moments become little moments when you keep doing bigger things, and that’s precisely how Gouthro sees things going on Friday night and going forward.

“He thinks I’m coming to wrestle hard — and I am — but this is gonna be a violent performance,” he offered. “My hands are on, my weapons are sharp, everything is coming along, coming to point. I feel good, man — body is perfect, mind is perfect, so it’s going to be a bad night for him.

“If I can do what I know I can, it’s going to be a beautiful, violent performance.”

And after that?

“UFC, baby! UFC! I’m calling out Dana!”