32-year-old Brazilian heavyweight fighter Gabriel Gonzaga started his UFC career off strong, winning and finishing his first four fights with the promotion, even spectacularly separating Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic from consciousness with his own signature move: a head kick.
That performance would earn the submissions expert a shot at then-champion Randy Couture, a bout which he would lose via TKO to kick off an inconsistent stretch that would eventually lead to his temporary retirement.
Gonzaga would come back from the Couture loss only to taste defeat again, getting taken out again via TKO, this time by his fellow Brazilian, Fabricio Werdum. From there, he would go back and forth for the next two years, picking up victories over the likes of Justin McCully, Josh Hendricks and Chris Tuchscherer, as well as losses to Shane Carwin, Junior dos Santos and Brendan Schaub. After suffering the unanimous decision loss to Schaub back at UFC 121 in October of 2010, Gonzaga was released from the UFC and announced that he would only compete further in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, effectively retiring from MMA.
After some time off, the lure of competition drew the 12-6 fighter back to the sport, and he signed on to face the unheralded Parker Porter at a Reality Fighting event this past October in Connecticut. Gonzaga won the bout via third-round submission and got his call to return to the UFC when English bruiser Rob Broughton pulled out of his January-scheduled bout against Ednaldo Oliveira.
Gonzaga accepted an offer to step in for Broughton against his fellow Brazilian, and will now take on Oliveira at UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes, which takes place on January 14 at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.