A.J Matthews is a welterweight prospect based out of San Diego, California. Training out of Blackline Training Center, Matthews possess well-rounded potential given the combination of his athleticism, strong striking arsenal and developing ground game.
The 23-year-old Matthews is a Filipino/English/American fighter that has been around MMA for more than 10 years. A.J was named by Sports Illustrated as top prospect in MMA by Josh Gross, and has created buzz behined his name.This buzz caught the attention of Bellator FC and AJ signed a deal with this organization.
Matthews just recently made it into the first-ever Bellator’s reality TV show called “Fight Masters” alongside Joe Riggs,Mike Bronzoulis, Chris Lozano, Bryan Travers and Artenas Young and other great talents who will compete in the said show which will start airing on June 19th.
MMA Orient: Hi, A.J, How is everything going for you and your career?
“Everything is going great right now in my career, since we have talked last I suffered a loss to a seasoned Dom O’grady in Bellator MMA at the Ceaser’s Palace in Windsor, Canada. The loss was difficult for me to accept, but as a professional, in this game, things like this are going to happen. In preperation for that fight I had the opportunity to film a Sherdog.com Prospect watch series that turned out great!
After the O’grady fight, it was all eyes and preparation on the reality show. I had a great camp preparing for this tournament, I was working with my team and fight family Alliance Training Center in Chula Vista, CA where I am closely watched by head coach Eric Del Fierro, assistant coaches Adrian Melendrez and George Castro among my mentors and teammates. I made one addition to my preparation and that was bringing on Phil Davis’ strength and conditioning coach Chad Macias. I am a lucky guy to have the coaching staff that I have and I am even a luckier guy to have my favorite fighter/mentor Brandon Vera watching over me as well.”
Matthews is a very promising fighter who looks to keep his fights standing. He shows a nice straight right, good kicks from both legs and is a heavy-handed puncher with definite finishing power on his feet.
MMA Orient: You are one of the casts of Bellator’s first-ever reality show called, “Fight Masters”. Can you tell us a bit about the show? Does Fight Masters exactly the same as UFC’s TUF? What is the difference of it compared to TUF?
“Showing up in New Orleans for the show was awesome! I have already fought in New Orleans where I had the greatest moment thus far in my MMA career, the knockout of Charlie Rader. If you havn’t see it yet, please youtube “sick soccer kick K.O”, having this memory of fighting in New Orleans I had a good feeling about competing here again.
The only part of the trip that I can talk about is before any filming started. I land in New Orleans and wait for a shuttle to the hotel, somehow I am standing with Rob Mills, Cole Williams, Nick Barnes and I can’t remember who else, but we weren’t allowed to talk to each other. The silent game was played for a week in separate hotel rooms all the way till the weight cut. As soon as we arrived at our hotel rooms the producers took my book “Gates of Fire” and my phone, I was stuck watching “Heat” with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. The biggest difference between Fight Master and the other show is that the fighters pick their teams, and the fighters pick their fights.”
MMA Orient: There are several big names who joined the show such as Joe Riggs,Mike Bronzoulis, Chris Lozano, Bryan Travers and Artenas Young. Do you think you got what it takes to beat these guys and win the $100,000 grand prize?
I wouldn’t have signed up to do the reality show, I wouldn’t have signed my contract with Bellator MMA, I wouldn’t waste my time training every day, dealing with the pain, if I didn’t know in my head and my heart that I belong to be there. I would put myself up against anybody in the world, and I am so happy that Bellator MMA, Bjorn Rebney, Sam Caplan, Zac Light, all were able to bring together a group of fighters that can scrap! This is why we do it!
MMA Orient: What do you think is your biggest advantage to other fighters who are competing in this show?
The biggest advantage that I have over the rest of the cast is that the way I fight is scary, I throw power, I am technical, capable of wrestling and grappling. I have been training to be here for 10 years now, I used to help Jason Lambert get ready for King of the Cage fights in a garage when I was in high school. I am an up and comer with something to prove, and I am willing to put everything on the line in order to make it.
MMA Orient: What can your fight fans expect from AJ Matthews throughout the show?
I am exactly who I am, people can expect to see one of the last of a dying breed.
Follow A.J Matthews on Twitter: @AJ_MMA
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