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Wednesday, 07/17/2013, 01:18 pm

EXCLUSIVE | AJ Matthews on Bellator’s Fight Master: “We’re All Still Young and Hungry” | Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio

 

By JAKE CHASTAIN

Fist-Ta-Cuff RADIO was at it again this past weekend and co-hosts Denny and Anton talked with current Bellator “Fight Master” contestant, AJ Matthews. AJ was kind enough to take time out of each week to sit down and talk about the progress and discuss all the back stories regarding the new SPIKE TV MMA reality show.  AJ Matthews won his first fight via a unanimous decision to earn his place onto the show. He ultimately ended up choosing to join Team Couture and he talked this week about training with the other three members of the team, what makes FightMaster so compelling as an MMA show, and how steep the competition on the show is. Here are some of the highlights from AJ Matthews’ interview on Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio:

AJ was first asked if he was impressed or had his eye on anyone in particular following the entry fight round. He admitted that the talent level is high but he wasn’t focused on any single competitor. He stated, “There’s so many good guys and unassuming people out there that can get it done, so that’s about how I feel about that.”

Matthews won his fight in the opening episode of the series to earn his spot onto the official cast of the show. Luckily he was able to stay healthy and avoid any cuts in that entry fight, but not everyone was that lucky. One of the competitors suffered a cut during his fight and although he won the bout the athletic commission would not allow him to continue on the show. As unfortunate as it may be that’s the nature of the sport and Matthews explained that it’s exactly what makes MMA so unpredictable and intriguing.

“I think that’s what makes MMA so interesting to a lot of people is that anything can happen at any point and you never have control, even if they say no elbows, you can still get cut,” Matthews explained. “The only way I think you can fix that is if there were no elimination fights. Instead of 32 guys they pick 16 guys, they move them in somewhere and boom, start the tournament.”

Although this would be a solution to the problem Matthews understands that eliminating the entry fights would take away from much of the excitement at the start of the show. He admitted, “I think the way that it is now is the best way for the show to be.”

When asked what the experience was like when getting to choose his own coach out of four legendary MMA figures Matthews said that it was torture for some of fighters as some of the coaches admitted that they did not want them on their team. That’s a tough pill to swallow for some fighters, especially immediately following a victorious performance.

“They made it seem like all the coaches liked me but Greg Jackson was like, ‘I think you’ll be a better fit for Warren or Couture’s camp,’” Matthews explained.

“The coaches want to win. It’s a competition to them as much as it is to us, I think, so I can understand why they do that but it is pretty brutal.”

On last week’s episode we saw Joe Riggs get his opponent switched at the last second due to injury. Riggs still went in and dominated but the situation was an interesting on as Bellator allowed a fighter that had already lost to step in and get another chance to get onto the show. When asked to comment on the situation Matthews stated, “I’m sure a lot of guys went in there hurt or things weren’t feeling right but I think that you find out your entry fight is against Joe Riggs and maybe you don’t want that fight. It’s a difficult position for Joe because he’s a scary dude, you know? He had that intimidation factor on a lot of guys right off the bat.”

“You can see that the guy is mentally on top of his game,” Matthews said of Joe Riggs.

AJ was also asked when he actually found out who else was on Team Couture and would be training with him.

“I think it was the next day,” he said,“that’s when we moved into the warehouse and we kind of got our gear and got situated.”

When asked what his initial thoughts were when he found out who his teammates were:

“My initial thoughts were, ‘I wonder if there’s going to be a language barrier between Cristiano Souza and I,’” he said. “I was excited to train with these guys, see where I’m at against three other dudes that made it as far as I did so far in the tournament.”

The ratings for the show have been pretty solid for the show thus far. Last week the show experienced a 24% increase from the previous episode. AJ was asked if he paid any attention to that or not. “I haven’t read anything about the ratings,” he replied.“I haven’t really been too worried about the ratings.”

The show debuted over four weeks ago and each coach has finally filled their teams , which means the competition is now ready to officially begin. Three weeks of entry fights is a lot of build up prior to the actual competition but I cannot say that it hasn’t been exciting. “It was a slow start but they’ve really been pushing it so that makes me excited for the rest of the episodes to see how we do because that’s the boring part,” Matthews explained. “It gets interesting when you find out who you like and who you don’t like.”

Matthews was again asked to compare this show to the UFC’s version of the show, TUF.

“It’s a little more serious. There’s no clowns that suck,” he said. “All those dudes can fight. I can fight, everyone in the house can fight and that’s what makes it interesting. We’re all still young and hungry. No one thinks they’ve made it yet.”

 AJ Matthews then voiced his displeasure that he was not considered for Bellator’s Top 20 KOs of last year following his soccer kick KO of Charlie Rader at Bellator 70. He told all the fans to go watch it on YouTube and tweet at Bellator MMA if they agree that he should have been in the top 20. He jokingly concluded, “I don’t know what I have to do next year to be on the next top 20 but I’m going to do it.”

We thank AJ for joining the show this week and remember, he’ll be back next week to talk about the next episode of “Fight Master” with Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio. To listen to the entire interview with AJ from this week’s episode of Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio click here and for more exclusive MMA interviews stay posted to BJPenn.com

Bellator’s “Fight Master” airs on SPIKE TV on Wednesday nights. Check your local listings for times.

-Jake Chastain

@jchastain45

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