Jake Matthews has all the time been a dreamer.
As a younger boy rising up in Victoria it was posters of AFL gamers on his bed room wall and grand finals on the hallowed MCG turf that bought him away from bed every morning.
Now it’s the draw of a UFC world title that has the 28-year-old’s consideration.
Contemporary from a career-defining KO on Andre Fialho at UFC 275 in Singapore, Matthews (18-5) returns to the octagon in Las Vegas this weekend reverse American Matthew Semelsberger (10-4).
Win, and a ranked opponent awaits him subsequent 12 months. The street map is there for a welterweight title battle and ‘The Celtic Child’ is within the type of his life. These AFL goals are lengthy forgotten.
It wasn’t the day “absolute monster” Jack Viney ran rings round him in a junior grand last that turned Matthews’ head from footy to combating, although he can look again on it now with a smile.
It was the spur of the second determination to step into the octagon on three days’ discover to battle a person eight years his senior that sealed his future away from footy.
Earlier than his opponent’s head had hit the canvas Matthews was dreaming of a UFC debut and barely three years later, having taken all earlier than him within the Aussie beginner scene, it grew to become a actuality.
“On the time I nonetheless needed to play AFL however I used to be a younger Aussie child who additionally needed to go and have a punch-on,” Matthews advised Information Corp.
“I ended up successful the battle by a head kick KO and it utterly modified the trajectory of what I needed to do. As quickly as I received that first battle I stated I needed to battle within the UFC. From that time it was one thing that nearly appeared not possible to the surface eye.”
“Each time I discussed it individuals would say ‘that’s not possible’ or ‘that may’t be achieved’ … I didn’t waste any time.”
Matthews grew to become the youngest contracted athlete within the UFC and third-youngest to win a battle when he debuted at UFC Struggle Evening 43 in Auckland aged 19 years and 313 days.
Nearly 9 years later it’s arduous to imagine the UFC veteran remains to be simply 28 years outdated.
“I performed Aussie guidelines for 9 years which is loopy, as a result of I’ve been within the UFC for 9 years now,” Matthews stated.
“I used to be enjoying in consultant groups – I had a stint within the TAC Cup – and I needed to remain match within the low season as a result of issues had been beginning to get severe, which is the place I discovered kickboxing, which led to jujitsu, which led to MMA.”
Matthews vividly remembers the day he was despatched to play on Viney in a junior grand last, although the particulars are a bit sketchy.
“I used to be 5’6 or 5’7 and he’s this six-foot child,” Matthews remembers.
So intimidating was the now-178cm Viney in that second that he grew just a few inches, apparently.
“He was an absolute monster. I don’t know why the put me there … I didn’t contact the ball the entire recreation.”
Now Viney is taken into account pound for pound one of many hardest gamers within the AFL and Matthews, properly, he plans to stake a declare for a similar title within the UFC.
The hunt continues on Sunday when he tussles with Semelsberger in Vegas at UFC Struggle Evening: Cannonier v Strickland.
Initially revealed as UFC Struggle Evening: Jake Matthews remembers the footy lesson he discovered from Jake Viney