Matt Dixon might not be a household name among fight fans yet, but that could soon change.
Dixon, a 24-year-old welterweight with a flawless, 9-0 record, will battle Orion Cosce (6-0) on next Tuesday’s episode of Dana White’s Contender Series. If he leaves the cage-side UFC President suitably dazzled, he’ll be offered a contract.
It’s an opportunity he’s been dreaming of since he first strapped on a pair of MMA gloves.
“It’s a very exciting feeling,” Dixon, who is represented by Paradigm Sports Management, told BJPENN.com from his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “This is where I’ve always wanted to be. The UFC is the promotion that brought me to the sport. I was watching fights, watching the best fighters, watching Anderson Silva fight. That’s what actually originally made me want to be an MMA fighter, so this is huge for me.”
As this critical juncture of his career draws closer, Dixon is staying calm under pressure, flaunting the poise of a much more experienced fighter.
“I have fought every fight like Dana White’s watching,” he explained. “Whether he’s standing there five feet away from me or watching online, I take every fight very seriously. This is very important for me.
“There’s always nerves,” he added. “But I feel very prepared for this fight.”
In Cosce, who will be no less determined to earn his own UFC contract, Dixon sees a dangerous but surmountable challenge.
“He looks like an athletic dude,” Dixon said of his foe. “He grew up wrestling and grappling, and it looks like he has a fundamental basis in just about every area. He throws some decent kicks, some spinning back-fists, some different strikes that are a bit unorthodox, as well as some of basics. He looks like he’s mainly comfortable on the ground, but I’m sure he’s comfortable standing up too. I’m sure he’s prepared everywhere, but at the same, I feel like I’m more prepared everywhere.
“I don’t [think he’s fought anybody like me],” he added. “I know a lot of people say stuff like that when they’re getting ready for fights, but from everybody that I’ve seen that he’s fought, I don’t think any of them move like I move, or think like I think, or do the things that I can do.”
If you’re not familiar with what Dixon can do, allow the man himself to provide a crash course:
“What I bring to the table is a lot of dynamic striking and footwork,” he said. “My hands and my footwork, they go together, as well as my kicks. I’m no slouch when it comes to the ground either. I’ve done very well whenever I’ve needed to take the fight to the ground.
“I would say I’m an aggressive fighter,” he added. “I would say I’m intelligent in there, and I’m definitely able to adapt as the fight goes on.”
Dixon has parlayed his diverse and dangerous skillset into an impressive record that includes five wins via knockout or TKO and one by submission. On Dana White’s Contender Series, where finishes are often the key to earning UFC contracts, he feels his predilection for stopping fights will serve him well.
“I absolutely see myself finishing this fight,” he said confidently. “I don’t get so caught up in game plans and ‘psychological constipation,’ if I can use that phrase. I don’t get caught up in how I’m going to finish a fight and all that stuff, but I definitely feel like with all the tools, all the assets that I have, I’m ready to go in there and finish the fight.”
While there’s no guarantee that Dixon will earn a UFC contract—or even win his fight—next Tuesday, he’s optimistic things will go the way he plans. His optimism is so potent that he doesn’t even expect it to feel surreal when he’s holding a signed UFC contract in his hand.
“I’m very confident,” he said. “I feel like that contract is mine.
“I feel like I’m ready for it. I don’t want to sound arrogant at all, like I’m entitled to it or anything, but I’m one of these guys that’s very big on visualizing and all of that. I’ve seen this many times in my heart.”
If Dixon does earn a UFC contract next Tuesday, he forecasts a run through the welterweight division that fight fans will find very entertaining.
“They’re going to see that I’m the kind of fighter that allows his actions to do the talking for him, as well as a guy that’s going to be at the highest level of competition,” he said. “I didn’t get into this sport just to be one of these guys that shows up at a bar somewhere and says that I made it to the UFC. That’s never been a goal for me. The goal is only to be a UFC champion. For me personally, that’s what I expect, and that’s what I believe people can expect for me.”
While Dixon is certain fans will enjoy watching his UFC journey unfold, it sounds like his fellow welterweights might be in for a less enjoyable experience as he pummels his way through the division.
“They can expect that I’m coming for them all,” Dixon said, addressing his future rivals in the UFC.