Jake Matthews: “There’s nothing like fighting in front of an Aussie crowd”

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 11: (R-L) Jake Matthews of Australia punches Li Jingliang of China in their welterweight bout during the UFC 221 event at Perth Arena on February 11, 2018 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Jake Matthews takes on Tony Martin at UFC Fight Night 142 Saturday in Adelaide, Australia. MMASucka got to talk to “The Celtic Kid” about his young start in MMA, his appearance on TUF, switching weight classes, and his fight with Martin. The fight itself is a quality scrap between two younger fighters looking to reach the top of the welterweight division.

Jake Matthews Discusses Career and Upcoming Fight

Starting Young

Jake Matthews is just 24 years old but has been competing in the UFC since 2014. His professional debut came way back in 2012 when he was just 18 years old. To be competing against grown men in this sport at 18 can be quite challenging. Matthews, however, didn’t struggle starting at such a young age. When asked if there were any issues, he said “Apart from never seeing a cage, there weren’t any real issues. I had ten amateur fights and felt ready.”

It sounds crazy to some that Matthews had already had ten amateur fights under his belt by the time he was 18. But, it was never much of a challenge to him. He won the first nine fights of his professional career, all of which came before he turned 22. Still just 24, and already making a solid name for himself in the UFC, there could be big things in Matthews’s future.

Weight Classes

Matthews began his professional career as a welterweight. He made the switch to lightweight after coming to the UFC. In seven lightweight fights, Matthews went 4-3 before moving back to welterweight in 2017.

“The move to lightweight was obvious at the time. I spent nine weeks at JacksonWink’s in Albuquerque, and the welterweights were huge. At the time I was 5’9″ and skinny. I’m now 6′ and maturing physically, so the 30 pound cuts and the toll [on my body] made no sense anymore.”

Because he got into the sport at such a young age, Matthews’s body has changed significantly during his career. Most guys are fully matured and grown when they get to the upper echelons of MMA. Not many guys will grow three inches during their time as an experienced professional fighter.

The two posts below from Matthews’s Instagram highlight how his body has changed over the previous five years. It’s clear that he is too big to safely cut to 155 pounds anymore.

The Ultimate Fighter

Jake Matthews would first appear in the UFC octagon on TUF Nations: Canada vs Australia. He would lose his first fight of the tournament to current UFC lightweight Olivier Aubin-Mercier. Though a first round loss could easily damper a man’s hopes, Matthews only had positives to take away from the experience.

“On TUF, I had no expectations. I’d never spent more than a few days away, hadn’t seen a cage or traveled overseas. So, it was all just an amazing experience that proved to me this was what I wanted,” Matthews said of his time on TUF.

He definitely got his foot in the door with UFC. After the loss on TUF, he had just one more fight back in Australia before being offered a UFC contract.

Fight at UFC Adelaide

For the 15th time in 18 professional fights, Matthews will be fighting in front of a hometown Aussie crowd. He is always thankful to be fighting in front of his hometown fans. When asked if it’s a little more special to fight in his home country, he said “Absolutely. There’s nothing like fighting in front of an Aussie crowd, so I’ve been blessed to have that opportunity.”

 

Matthews’s opponent Tony Martin is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert, who also recently flashed some knockout ability. Eight of Martin’s fourteen career wins have come via submission.

“I wasn’t sure who this bloke was when the offer came up, but stylistically I think it’s the next logical step,” Matthews said of fighting a guy with strong BJJ skills like Martin.

For what it’s worth, a quick Google search taught me that “bloke” is simply slang for “guy” in Australia.

If a guy is strong in one particular aspect of fighting like Martin, a fighter will train differently. Their game plan could be different coming into the fight than it would be if they were facing a well-rounded fighter. “The Celtic Kid” hasn’t done anything differently in preparation for Martin’s jiu-jitsu, though.

“We always implement practical game planning, so nothing is different from our normal prep,” Matthews told MMASucka.

Future

Looking to the future, Matthews didn’t have much to say. He did confirm that he is no longer interested in a fight with Sage Northcutt, who is now out of the UFC anyway. But, there is potentially a top 15 ranking in store for the winner of this fight. This fight could go a long way towards elevating Matthews’s status in the welterweight division. He has the chance to really see his career take off, and he is fully prepared and confident.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here