Contender Series Alum Matej Penaz Expecting a Big 2023

Matej Penaz, Dana White's Contender Series
Matej Penaz, Dana White's Contender Series 52 weigh-in Credit: Alex Behunin/Cageside Press

Matej Penaz has one career loss and unfortunately, it was a big one. It was last August on Dana White’s Contender Series where he fell in under a minute to SD Dumas. As you will see often, fighters that have lost on the Contender Series in the past get second opportunities. Penaz seems prime for another opportunity.

“I think I need to stay on a winning streak and continue to do attractive fights,” middleweight Penaz told us recently, asked about another possible Contender Series fight.

“I’d definitely be better prepared for what I’m going into. Apex, no fans, no music, a match in the afternoon… there are a lot of things that are otherwise against a normal fight on the event,” he said when asked how he would approach the fight differently.

Penaz did get back on the board with a win after his Contender Series bout. This past December he beat Joel dos Santos with a first-round TKO. It was important for Penaz to finish the year off with a win.

“I wanted to end the year with a win, which I did,” he stated. “And I think that intervals between fights of about four months are ideal.”

Fresh into 2023 Penaz is 7-1. In terms of plans for the new year this is what Penaz had to say:

“I would like to have three fights and of course lead them all to the winning end. To show the best that I can do and to improve again in all aspects of the fight game.”

To help Penaz compete at the level he’s at have been the teams he’s been working with. Not just one team, but rather he’s been splitting his training with two top teams in Sweden and his home country Czech Republic.

“In Sweden, I train at the Allstars Gym, where I train with, for example, Khamzat Chimaev, Volkan Oezdemir, Alexander Gustafsson, and many more. In the Czech Republic, I train at Reinders gym, where I train with, for example, Michal Martínek, Miloš Petrášek, Daniel Škvor, and other excellent Czech fighters.”

Prior to MMA Penaz competed in Kickboxing. Coming into mixed martial arts from another sport can be a really difficult transition, but the hardest was getting his body to adapt.

“The hardest thing was before the body got used to a different kinds of movements like wrestling and grappling. I used to be much more tired from training this training session I’m doing now than from stand-up training.”

Penaz has achieved numerous accomplishments in kickboxing:

  • 22-2 in amateur kickboxing
  • WAKO World Championship and the WAKO European Championship.
  • IFMA World University Championships in muay thai.
  • 25-3 (14 KOs) in professional kickboxing and muay thai
  • WMC European Muaythai Champion
  • WKN European champion in muay thai
  • CMTA Champion of the Czech Republic in muay thai
  • WAKO Czech republic champion in kickboxing
  • 4 (3-1) fights in Glory Kickboxing

Most dedicated fight fans should know who Penaz is. The Contender Series fight gave him more exposure, but the vast majority aren’t aware of Matej “Money” Penaz. Penaz was sure to let everyone know what to expect when he steps into the cage.

“Definitely expect quality striking, good movement, some fakes, and good control of my opponents. And of course, trying to finish the fight before the time limit.”

“Definitely my style, I don’t have classic striking as a kickboxer nor as a boxer. Of course, my body proportions and southpaw guard also play a role in it. I really try to do different techniques and timing in the training and also in the fights.” when asked how he’s different compared to everyone else.

The last question we asked Penaz was why he fought and what drives him to compete.

“It’s simple, I like it, I like to train hard and push my limits. I want to reach my maximum and fulfill my full potential. Of course, I want a nice house and to take care of my family but the most important motivation is to be the best version of myself.”