It's been non-stop since Australia's own Ultimate Fighting Championship star, Jake Matthews, won his bout at UFC 193. He was straight back to training in preparation for his appearance next month at a UFC Fight Night in Brisbane. He may not be ruling the UFC world, but as he explains, you don't need to be the best, in order to get involved and make some progress.
Matthews started mixed martial arts training at the age of 15 as a way to stay fit during the AFL off-season, which he played at a representative level. "I had a couple of mates who were training at the local kickboxing gym, so I went along. They also had some jiu jitsu and MMA classes, so I joined in and progressed from there." After a year, his coach suggested that he might want to have his first amateur fight. Since this fight, pursing a career in MMA is all he's ever wanted to do. It all starts with getting involved.
Selecting a coach is also part of the MMA experience and journey to success. Matthews says, "Different coaches suit different people". No coach will do, however. "If you're planning to compete you definitely want someone who has been there before and done it and had a career.
"There are a lot of people who are knowledgeable but just haven't had that experience in the ring, so they're probably not the best people to bring up fighters. But if you can find a trainer who's had fights, competed in tournaments, they're the trainers you want. They know the right way to go about training and everything else outside of the ring as well.
Using people you have around you is important as well. Most of Matthew's basic training began with his dad as a coach. "My dad coached me through football, coached me in my swimming as well, and then coached me into MMA. He did a fair bit of martial arts when he was younger, so he's very knowledgeable. He was an Australian champ in taekwondo, and did boxing and Brazilian jiu jitsu back in the day."