Jake Matthews found himself fighting a legend at UFC 253 over the weekend. And had to do his best to ignore that.
“I tried to not let it get to my head before the fight that I was fighting Diego Sanchez,” Matthews admitted after his decision win over The Ultimate Fighter winner. “I’ve said a number of times, I was 11 years old when I saw Diego win The Ultimate Fighter. Sitting in my living room with my family.”
It’s the kind of fight you probably never really expect to find yourself in, given that 15 years had passed. But the welterweight pair met Saturday on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi. For Matthews (17-4), the win was the icing on the cake.
“Just to fight a guy like that, win or lose, is a great honor. But to be able to get the win, it’s starting to sink in now, and it’s an incredible feeling,” he stated.
There was a noticeable shift as the preliminary card fight progressed on Saturday. Sanchez started well enough, but Matthews seemed to adjust between rounds.
“It was pretty much not making any adjustments, just once we knew which Diego was showing up in the fight. Then we could start throwing our hands and doing some damage,” he explained. It took the first round or so, essentially, to figure out “is he going to try to take me down the whole fight, is he going to come out and be doing front flip kicks, or is he going to be more calculated?” In the end, it was a more calculated Diego Sanchez that turned up.
Coming away with the win, Matthews, who entered the UFC in 2014 and is now on a three-fight win streak, is looking at the top 15. “This fight can be one that gets me noticed a bit more. Hopefully I can dictate a bit more who I can fight,” he suggested. “Not that I’m going to call anyone out, I’m going to leave it to the matchmakers, but trying to push to get, if not top 15, pretty close to it. Then maybe the one after that [will be top 15]. If not, then give me another legend.”
Watch the full UFC 253 virtual post-fight press scrum with Jake Matthews above.