UFC Vegas 7: Once Dreaming of the NFL, Matthew Semelsberger Says Wrestling Tougher than Football

Las Vegas, NV — For many debuting fighters in the UFC, the fabled “octagon jitters” are a concern. They come with the pressure of fighting on the biggest stage in combat sports. But for Matthew Semelsberger, who made his debut in the octagon at UFC Vegas 7, the pressure was almost welcome.

“Unlike a lot of people, I do better under pressure. I do better when there’s a lot of pressure on me,” revealed Semelsberger following the event, speaking to media outlets including Cageside Press. “I don’t know why that exactly is, but fights where I don’t feel pressure, are fights where I end up doing something stupid. When I’ve got a little bit of fear, a little bit of pressure on me, a whole other side of me comes out.”

Semelsberger (7-2) was facing fellow newcomer Carlton Minus, with both making their debuts on Saturday at the UFC Apex. He fought his way to a unanimous decision win, against a very game opponent.

While some fighters have pursued combat sports since they were children, Semelsberger has been a multi-sport athlete since a young age.

“I started playing football til I was six years old,” Semelsberger revealed. A year later, he began wrestling. Lacrosse, track and field, and other sports followed. Initially, his sights were set on the NFL, but he’d come back to wrestling, and from there, MMA.

“I’m still working on my wrestling game. It’s not great. I’ll tell you that. My wrestling is mostly instincts,” he added. “I always wrestled before football, just to keep me in shape.”

So which is tougher? “Definitely wrestling,” said Semelsberger.

Watch the full UFC Vegas 7 post-fight press scrum with Matthew Semelsberger above.