ByMatt Sayles, writer at
6-1 pro fighter out of Alliance MMA in Chula Vista, California
Matt Sayles

When I was 17 years old, the coaches at threw me into the shark tank to see if I could hang in there. They tried to weed me out early on, so they sent me into the cage for five, five-minute rounds against .

He was the UFC champ back then, and it was literally my first week at the gym.

I kept coming back.

You can’t beat the stable of guys I’ve been training with since then: , Justin Lawrence, NCAA champion Darrion Caldwell, Wilson Reis, Danny Martinez; guys who are at the top of the rankings. Every week we have different sharks in the tank in Chula Vista.

For sure I know I can already beat a lot of the guys in the UFC. Just based on who I’ve trained with, and how I’ve performed against these guys -- I have rounds where I dominate ranked UFC guys -- I know I belong there. Which is why next week is such a huge opportunity.

is actually gonna be at my fight. He’ll be there filming his Lookin’ For A Fight show with Matt Serra and Din Thomas. Dana’s heard my name before, Dominick and my coach, , mentioned me to Dana, so I’m really excited to give him a face to go along wit the name. Dana actually missed my fight at once before, so I’m happy to have this second chance to show him what I can do.

Having already won multiple world Muay Thai titles, I’m not taking anybody down. I’m gonna go with the strikes, I’m gonna try and knock my opponent, Christian Aguilera, out when we fight this Saturday at 64 in North Park, California. That’s what the fans want, and that’s what I want.

Striking is the base of my style; me and Dominick have trained together for years now, so we have a very similar style with the footwork and the feints. We’re both smart about our setups and technical striking.

I want to show that off to Dana, and the timing couldn’t be better, since it was always my goal to make the UFC when I turned 23. In the end, though it’s ultimately my goal to be one of the greatest to ever step in the cage.

It’s all really exciting for me, but I’m also a little nervous, and I can’t fight those nerves. Honestly, I feel any fighter’s gonna be a little nervous knowing that the president of the UFC will be in attendance, that’s just normal, but overall I’m excited for this opportunity, and I’m well prepared for this.

For now I’m trying not to psyche myself out, or create a situation where I might freeze up or might not be able to pull the trigger. It’s just like any other fight.

In general, I don’t really pay too much attention to my opponent anyway. It’s more like I’m fighting a silhouette, the guy in front of me is just a body, or even like a canvas, so I can create. It’s more of a zen approach to fighting.

And besides, if Jeremy Stephens can’t set me down -- we’ve rocked each other a couple times in practice, given each other some butterflies -- and I can come back from 27 power shots on the ground while getting back to my feet in , I can definitely go out there and perform in front of Dana White.

Once I get in the cage, I’ll show him why I belong in the UFC.


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