Jake Matthews returns to the Octagon for the 11th time when he takes on Anthony Rocco Martin at UFC Fight Night 142 in his home country of Australia. Matthews began training out of a shed as a kid, where he would spar with his brother while their father coached them. Now the 24-year-old prospect is 7-3 in the UFC and is quickly becoming one of the brightest prospects on the roster.
Although Matthews began training at an early age, he is predominantly a grappler who only uses his striking when he can’t get the fight to the ground. Something interesting about his grappling is the variety of takedowns he uses. He can land the basic single leg and double-leg takedowns, but Matthews generally chooses to back his opponents to the cage and use the fence to slowly drag them down. Working along the cage like this leaves opponents with less room to defend and slowly drains their cardio by forcing them to carry weight for long stretches.
Once the fight hits the ground, Matthews wastes no time posturing up and firing off relentless gpunches and elbows. Often fighters will be too concerned with improving position and end up dealing little to no damage before the round ends or the referee stands them up. Matthews is the exact opposite and would rather posture up in any position and look to end the fight with a quick flurry of elbows and hammerfists, even if it means he loses position.
But Matthews is not just a wrestler with furious ground-and-pound. He is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Carlos Vieira and half of his 14 wins have come by submission. Since Matthews is such an aggressive striker on the ground, opponents are focused on covering up to avoid being finished, which in turn opens them up for submissions.
Matthews is always looking to get the fight to the ground, but over the years he has become a decent kickboxer who can occasionally win fights on the feet. His leading attacks can be sloppy, often crossing his feet and swinging wild punches, but his athletic ability and the threat of grappling exchanges has been enough for him to hold his own on the feet. His countering ability has looked much better than his leading attacks, but since he is usually the aggressor we don’t get to see much of it. Matthews signed with the UFC when he was just 19 years-old and many fans have forgotten about the Aussie prospect since he had some setbacks to the likes of James Vick and Kevin Lee. But he has an incredible amount of fighting experience for his age and has plenty of time to round out his striking and slowly but surely work his way up to contender status.