Coming off two first-round finishes, lightweight Matt Frevola returns to the Octagon for the first time in 2023, challenging fellow action hero Drew Dober to close out the prelims at UFC 288: Sterling vs Cejudo.
Frevola’s last two outings were arguably the best in his career, most recently finishing a then-undefeated Ottman Azaitar back in November. Halfway through the first round, with Frevola retreating to the side of the Octagon, “The Steamrolla” swiftly landed a three-punch combination to close the show in emphatic fashion.
“My last fight was definitely the top of the top,” Frevola said ranking his latest performance the best of his career thus far. “It had the perfect opponent, the perfect bad guy opponent, at the perfect location Madison Square Garden and I had a perfect fight; a nice, clean, first-round knockout.”
The most notable difference in Frevola’s offense in his last two bouts was his boxing. Fighting out of Long Island under the guidance of coach Ray Longo, Frevola diligently dug into his mentor’s boxing knowledge, which has steered him onto a destructive path inside the Octagon.
“My coach [Ray] Longo really wanted me to start focusing on my boxing, so I’ve been [training] a lot of boxing,” Frevola said. “I got two knockouts with my hands in my last two fights, so what coach tells me to do, I do it. He’s got my complete trust and it’s paying off.”
After defeating Azaitar six months ago, Frevola took a short break from the nonstop training to rest and recover, but never spent time away from the gym. Rather than sitting at home or going on vacation, Frevola went back into the training room to teach up and comers some valuable lessons he’s picked up throughout his career and visualize them by joining sparring sessions.
“My consistency,” Frevola notes as his biggest improvement since fans last saw him compete. “We have so many great, young, up and coming fighters at the gym and I was right back in the gym helping them, sparring with them. Iron sharpens iron. Even when I’m out of shape I’m in there helping everybody and that just makes me better. I’ve constantly evolved and I’m excited to show the next evolution of ‘The Steamrolla.’”
This past weekend, Frevola took a short trip west from his native Long Island to Newark, New Jersey, for UFC 288: Sterling vs Cejudo. As he peers across the Octagon Saturday night, standing in the red corner will be No. 14 ranked lightweight contender Dober, one of UFC’s most prolific finishers.
Last year, Dober racked up three consecutive victories, including a come from behind finish against Terrance McKinney, a Performance of the Night-earning display against Rafael Alves and a brutal knockout victory over Bobby Green to close out a stellar 2023 campaign.
Watching intently as Dober bulldozed his way into the lightweight Top 15, Frevola noticed very few holes in Dober’s toolset, but believes his own arsenal is enough to outperform his opposition wherever the fight goes.
“I can strike with him, I can wrestle with him and I can use my jiu-jitsu on the ground,” Frevola said acknowledging all of his paths to victory. “I think he’s got all that, too, but the way I mix everything up and I utilize everything is going to be my advantage.
“Dober’s a dawg and you can just tell in his fights that he doesn’t back down. Even if he gets hurt, he keeps coming forward, he keeps fighting hard and that’s how I fight; I’m a dog as well. It’s going to be a dogfight and dogfights I don’t lose.”
Frevola’s last two opponents entered those bouts with perfect records, but both received their first blemish in less than a round. Since Dober’s already picked up a few losses throughout his 14-year career, Frevola searched for a more specific goal to target on Saturday.
Since entering the UFC 2013, Dober’s never lost via knockout, so Frevola has his sights aimed on getting this fight put away before the allotted 15 minutes are up on Saturday, utilizing his always improving boxing to get the job done.
“[Dober’s] awesome, man,” Frevola said. “I’ve been watching him forever and to be able to go in there and fight him and mix it up with him is a dream come true. He’s tied for the most knockouts in the lightweight division and he’s never been knocked out before. I like doing things nobody’s ever done before and that’s what I plan on doing. My last two [opponents], I gave them their first loss and I’m definitely going to give Dober his first knockout loss.”
UFC 288: Sterling vs Cejudo took place live from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on May 6, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass