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Matthew Semelsberger celebrates his win over Martin Sano in their welterweight fight during the UFC 266 event on September 25, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
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Matthew Semelsberger's Paradigm Shift To His True Potential

UFC Welterweight Matthew Semelsberger Looks To Capture The Moments Of Greatness He’s Shown In The Octagon And Turn It Into A Lights Out Performance At UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs Strickland

At 4-2 in the UFC with two sub-16 second knockouts, Matthew Semelsberger quickly established himself as one of the top prospects in the welterweight division.

And although he’s had success, “Semi The Jedi” didn’t hesitate to give himself a rather critical grade for his UFC career this far.

“Oh, definitely a C,” Semelsberger told UFC.com. “It was ‘acceptable,’ if you will, maybe for my first little stretch of this UFC career of mine, but it’s one of those things where I look at it like I’ve done some above average things, but I’m not here to be average or be above average. I’m here to be great, I’m here to do amazing things.”

Fight By Fight Preview | UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs Strickland

Semelsberger’s next shot at doing something amazing comes this weekend at UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs Strickland when he faces Jake Matthews. Fighting someone with as much UFC as experience and potential as Matthews is a true test for Semelsberger, who is looking to see that he made the right adjustments after losing a decision to Alex Morono in late July.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 25: Matthew Semelsberger celebrates his win during the UFC 266 event on September 25, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 25: Matthew Semelsberger celebrates his win during the UFC 266 event on September 25, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC)


From the moment Semelsberger found out that he would be tangling with the “The Celtic Kid,” he trained harder than ever, implementing a two-pronged system for his camp.

Prong one fell purely on his shoulders. Semelsberger knew he had to make the choice to change things or do things differently in his camp to have the most success against Matthews.

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Prong two involved accepting information and, frankly, “ass whoopings” from good teammates and coaches who are there to push him.

Those two things have helped shape Semelsberger into the best version of himself possible for this fight. It’s a good feeling knowing that he did everything the right way and listened to his gut that he needed to make a major mental shift in order to attack his UFC career the way he always wanted to.

Matthew Semelsberger Fight Week Interview | UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs Strickland
Matthew Semelsberger Fight Week Interview | UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs Strickland
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“When I first got into the UFC it was still a dream for me and very surreal. It was hard to accept because of the fact that I dropped out of college. I had this crazy journey to get to college, then I got there, and it was like ‘Shoot, this used to be my end game but it’s not the end game, it’s just the beginning.’ I had to make a paradigm shift. Same thing here with the UFC,” Semelsberger said. “I had to change my mentality about where I was and where I could go. I kind of just realized my potential. I realized my potential of getting here, but then I had to turn everything up and tighten everything up in order to really thrive inside of the UFC welterweight division.”

Capturing the flashes of greatness that we’ve seen, like when he knocked out Jason Witt and Martin Sano Jr., are part of the process that comes with realizing his full potential. In his distance fights, Semelsberger believes he’s felt those flashes fizzle out, and it’s been his focus to be great the entire fight rather than just for those quick moments.

“Beating Jake would give me that affirmation that I may have slipped up a bit, but I made the right adjustments,” Semelsberger said. “I need to perform. That’s the biggest thing I’m focused on, just putting on an amazing fight.”

Semelsberger does view each fight as a performance, both as an athlete and as an entertainer. He wants to showcase all the hard work he’s put in on the mat and pads while also putting on an exciting fight for all the fans and people that support him.

Highlight: Matthew Semelsberger Knocks Out Sano In 15 Seconds | UFC 266
Highlight: Matthew Semelsberger Knocks Out Sano In 15 Seconds | UFC 266
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Fighting someone like Matthews is the perfect matchup to draw that out of him. He knows Matthews is going to bring it, just as he did in his most recent victory over André Fialho. 

“He’s a scary dude. He’s got power in his hands, he’s knocked people out, he’s super experienced, and even from a young age he’s been in the UFC,” Semelsberger said. “When I signed for this fight and I got the news of it and I got the offer for it, I was like ‘Yes!’ But then when I signed, I was like, ‘You know who you’re about to fight, right?’

“That’s juicy to me, but it’s also very scary to think about.”

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It’s no wonder why the UFC matchmakers chose to pair Semelsberger and Matthews, as both welterweights have some incredible finishes and bring a complete arsenal to the Octagon.

“You see the finishes from both me and Jake. We are capable of devastatingly finishing fights, so when you got two finishers in the Octagon it’s always an interesting bout to watch,” Semelsberger said. “They see these two finishers and these two beasts and they’re like, ‘What happens if we drop them both in the same place?’”

So, what would an epic win over Matthews do for Semelsberger’s UFC career grade so far?

“Boost me to a C plus,” Semelsberger laughed.

And by the time your UFC career is done?

“Oh, we are going for an A, man, 4.0.”

UFC Fight Night: Cannonier vs Strickland took place live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas on December 17, 2022. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass