When it comes to competitive edge, it has always been a family affair for Matt Frevola.
“My twin brother and me and have been growing up competing at pretty much everything. He was the safety on the football team. I was a linebacker. We've been competing our whole lives.”
An officer in the Army Reserves who prefers a good flag football game when he’s not in the Octagon, “The Steamrolla” is among the handful of new UFC 236 stars who graduated to the UFC from Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series.
As a proud, quintessential New Yorker (“I’m looking forward to summertime in Long Island. You can’t beat a summertime in Long Island.”), Frevola is a natural fit for the Serra-Longo gym, and is eager to contribute to the renaissance the team is experiencing. The next order of business will be Jalin Turner Saturday night in Atlanta.
UFC: The last time we saw you, you were battling Lando Vannata to a draw at UFC 230. Obviously you always want the win, but were you able to take any positives out of that fight?
Matt Frevola: Yeah, definitely. It was a three round war, you know? I'm battle-tested now and it was against a high, high caliber opponent. And it was at Madison Square Garden. Being a New York guy, a Long Island kid, that's a dream come true right there.
UFC: A lot of folks were introduced to you via your performance on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. When you think about the night you won that contract, what do you remember the most?
MF: It was an awesome, awesome time in Vegas. Being able to train and cut weight at the UFC Performance Institute is like a real first taste of the big leagues. McGregor was fighting Mayweather that weekend, too. It was pretty crazy in Vegas at that time.
And then being able to go in there and finish my opponent, accomplish what we came there to do and go home with that contract? It was definitely awesome.
UFC: Looking ahead to Saturday, why is Jalin Turner going to be your first UFC win?
MF: He’s a good opponent but he's not ready for what I'm going to bring to him. I know he's a big, tall opponent. He's probably cutting a lot of weight. But you know what they say: it's it's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog. So I'm going to go in there and drag him into deep water and drown him.
UFC: You’re an officer in the Army Reserves. Is there anything about being in the military that helps you in MMA, or vice versa?
MF: Oh yeah. You know, being in the Army, you gotta have discipline. As an officer, I'm in charge of people, so I'm organizing things a lot. And that kind of helps me with organizing my training and whatnot. And the warrior ethos in the Army has definitely helped in my MMA career.
UFC: It’s an exciting time for your Serra-Longo team right now; lots of huge fights coming up. Tell us a bit about what it’s like to train there and the chemistry of your team.
MF: Oh, it’s awesome. Al Iaquinta is the man. Whenever he's in the gym, you know his energy is contagious. And watching him spar is so awesome, and watching him train and being able to train with him and spar with him is great. You know, hee’s right there. Aljamain [Sterling] is right there. He’s one fight away. And we’ve got Merab [Dvalishvili]. Merab is a beast. He’s always training. Everyone helps each other, it’s a great team environment, and we all push each other to achieve greatness.
UFC: If everything goes your way this Saturday, what does a Matt Frevola celebration look like?
MF: I’m gonna hit up some chicken and waffles in the airport from Ludacris [Chicken + Beer in the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport], and then get back for the season premiere of Game of Thrones Sunday night.
Steve Latrell is a writer and producer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheUFSteve