When Australia’s Jake Matthews faces rising Portuguese star André Fialho at the Singapore Indoor Stadium at UFC 275, he expects to have his striking ability seriously tested, but is confident he will come out on top.
“Andre is tough,” says the 27-year-old. “He’s been very active and has done well in his past few fights. Everything about this fight is what I wanted, though. I feel at home in Singapore – the last time that I was here, I got the win. I wanted to fight a good striker here. At my core I’m a striker, and I wanted to test my striking against somebody like Andre. Everything has fallen into place.”
Things may have worked out in the end; however, the Aussie experienced a few unexpected delays en route to what will be his first appearance in the Octagon since March 2021. For example, a scheduled bout at UFC on ESPN: Font vs Aldo was cancelled on the morning of the event due to one of his opponent’s team testing positive for Covid.
“That’s just the cancellation people know about,” reveals Matthews. “There was supposed to be a fight in October that got scrapped. There was going to be another one earlier this year that didn’t work out. And there was another in May that didn’t pan out. It’s nobody’s fault –just bad luck.”
“Even now we’re here in Singapore, I won’t be holding my breath that’s it’s going to happen until I’m locked in that cage!” he jokes.
“The Celtic Kid” knows the ups and downs of being a prize fighter, having started his career in the UFC back in 2014 at just 19 years of age. During that time, he’s seen the sport change and fighters come and go. He’s also pieced together some great victories, including winning six of his previous eight outings. But he admits it hasn’t always been easy.
“I’ve had to learn on the job,” explains the 170-pounder, who is also an enlisted member of the Australian Army. “At 19, I wasn’t close to my peak. At 27, I still don’t think I’m there yet. Some people say I’ve done a good job, while others wonder why I haven’t won a title yet.
“The thing is, I didn’t come into the UFC as a really established fighter. Alex Volkanovski was an established fighter who was peaking when he arrived. Same with Israel Adesanya. I was a kid who had to figure a lot out against the best guys in the world.”
Not that the Melbourne-born fighter believes he was doing everything wrong in the beginning. In fact, while trying to improve the various aspects of his MMA game, he’s also trying to return to the mentality he had as a youngster that led to his initial success…
“I’ve gone back to my roots with training,” he reports. “I’ve got a new striking coach. The mindset is about doing the same things that got me to the UFC. Some fighters get here, then start playing it safe and changing their gameplans. I’ve taken a step back and am looking at how I used to fight.”
Which means that UFC fans – and André Fialho – may be in for a surprise regarding the version of Jake Matthews they see in action at UFC 275.
As already stated, Fialho is a rising star and has put the rest of the division on notice, earning two Performance of the Night bonuses in his past two outings – both of which he won by knockout. Matthews predicts a spectacular fight, but believes he will have the edge.
“I think it will be a potential Fight of the Night. High volume and high pace. But I think I’ll have the higher volume and work rate and, in doing that, I’ll get the win. That said, if it goes to the ground at any point, I’m comfortable with my wrestling and my subs are good.
“The ideal goal is to win a striking battle, though. I want to showcase to everyone that I’m one of the best strikers in the division. This weekend, I get to prove it.”
UFC 275: Teixeira vs Procházka took place on Saturday, June 11, 2022, live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass!