Matt Sayles is Reaching for Greatness

Matt Sayles shares his journey to the UFC’s competitive Featherweight division and his plans to go all the way.

We caught up with new UFC Featherweight Matt Sayles and find out more about the exciting young prospect.

How did you get started in the fight game?

When I was 13 or 14, I started playing football at school. I began to supplement my training with kickboxing and Muay Thai for conditioning. I liked it more than football and just stuck with Muay Thai. I also dabbled in wrestling. At 18, as soon as I was legal, I took my first MMA fight.

You work extensively with Adrian Melendrez of Alliance MMA and Azteca Boxing, would you say that you have a fairly pure boxing style now?

I moved over to Alliance as a Muay Thai guy aged 17. Adrian was the first coach to take me under his wing. He saw something immediately and took me sparring with Dominick Cruz on my second day!

We have developed our own style for MMA. I quickly realised that unlike in Muay Thai, where you can absorb shots, MMA doesn’t work that way. We added boxing head movement and footwork to may game, which is a big deal. You can see that I don’t take many shots.

Connor MacGregor made the crossover to boxing to face Floyd Mayweather. Would you consider doing the same? Would you do better?

Adrian and I have talked about it. We have put names like Canelo forward as a future opponent. I am starting to spar with some very experienced boxers, so I think that when the time comes, I would do pretty well.

How well would you do in a pure stand up fight with the top of your division: the likes of Max Holloway and Brian Ortega?

I see holes in everyone’s game. I would do very well. I could be champion of the division in the future.

Who are you gunning for right now?

I am really happy just getting to the UFC. I’ll take anyone who comes my way. Step by step, I will climb to the top.

Do you think you will face your team mate Jeremy Stephens any time soon?

I have thought about it, but I don’t see it happening. I am not going to fight a team mate unless it is for a title.

Aside from Adrian, who do you like working with at Alliance?

Alliance has been an amazing place to grow. I have had the opportunity to train with guys like Neil Melanson and Justin Flores, Rhonda Rousey’s Judo coach. What is really incredible about Alliance is the body of shared knowledge. I can learn the best of what Dominick Cruz, Phil Davis or Jeremy Stephens has to offer. It is a group of athletes and coaches who are pushing each other and growing together.

Tom Billinge Tom is the Editor of Revgear Sports and the founder of WarYoga. He is a 10th Planet purple belt and a Muay Thai Kru having spent over two decades in the sport in Thailand and around the world. Tom has trained Lethwei in Myanmar, Kushti wrestling in India, Zurkhaneh sports in Iran, boxing throughout Europe, and catch wrestling in the USA. Tom also resurrected the ancient techniques of traditional British bareknuckle pugilism from archaic manuals.