Article by Shawn Bitter
Matt Sayles is a featherweight prospect out of San Diego, California with a professional MMA record of 6-1 and trains out of Alliance MMA. Sayles is set for a big opportunity when he takes on Yazan Hajeh June 19th for Dana Whites Tuesday Night Contender Series.
First of all, how did you get into MMA? Do you have any background in any other sports?
At first, I was playing youth and high school football and saw that as my path in life I was going to take. I tried a Muay Thai class at age 15 to improve my flexibility and cardio for football and ended falling in love with the sport. Within a year I had quit football and was 110% in on Muay Thai. When I turned 18 I transitioned to MMA.
Is MMA your full-time job or are you working somewhere else as well? If not, what did you do for work before MMA?
I’ve taught classes, washed windows, vacuumed churches, cleaned gyms and so on just to make ends meet. Recently I’ve stepped back into coaching and I do private training sessions while training in my free time.
Who gave you the nickname “Robo”? What is the reasoning behind it?
I originally got the name for being tough and taking punches while giving back what I took. Like a rock-em-sock-em robot. I’ve decided to leave that nickname behind as I don’t fight like that anymore.
Who are you currently training with and how did you come across the camp? Also, who are some of your main training partners?
At age 17 I was making a gym move. I found Alliance Training Center East. A coach of the pro team there, Adrian Melendez, took an interest in me and invited me to train with the pros. The next day I was sparring 5×5 minute rounds with Dominick Cruz as he prepared for his bout with Urijah Faber in the UFC. I’ve stuck with the camp since and have trained alongside the who’s who of the MMA world. Jeremy Stephens, Michael Chandler, Dominick Cruz, Darian Caldwell, Ross Pearson the list goes on.
How is the cut to 145? What is your favorite thing to eat before and after weight cut?
The weight cut is going smooth. I’m walking around about 162 pouns with a little over three weeks before weigh-ins. Before a cut, I’m a sucker for sweets so I get my fix with acai bowls. After the cut my go to is some salt and vinegar chips in tomato soup. Delicious.
You fought at 155 before. Is that a weight class you would like to go to in the future or is 135 your home?
I was heavy and dealing with a lot in life when I fought at 155. I think my home will be staying at 145. For now. Who knows what the future holds?
What has been your favorite memory of your MMA career so far?
I’ve met some amazing athletes and human beings on this journey. My favorite memory though has to be traveling the world for the first time to Lebanon and competing in another country.
What would be your favorite striking and grappling technique?
I fancy the cartwheel kick when it comes to striking. It can be effective when used right and gets some style points in my opinion. My favorite grappling technique has got to be a toehold. Simple but effective.
One dream fight, who would you square off with?
I’d love to fight Jose Aldo or Renan Barao in the future. These were guys I studied constantly when I started out.
What makes you a different fighter from everyone else?
I believe I have the ‘it’ factor. I’m a true fighter. I will fight to the end, win or lose. Not many men can take shots and keep throwing back, in my opinion.
Where are some locations you’d like to travel to and fight?
I’d like to fight all around the world. The UK, Brazil, Japan to name a few.
Explain what a normal day is like in the life of Matt Sayles?
I live a simple life. I train, I train my clients and I chill at home with my girl and our fur babies. We have 3 dogs we spoil the heck out of. All my free time is mostly spent at home and with immediate family.
Any bad injuries you suffered in your career?
I’ve never had a serious injury. I pray it stays that way.
You only have one loss in your career and it was by split-decision. How did that loss change you as a fighter and what did you learn?
I took a lot away from that loss. If you ask me, I won. But this fight game is crazy and you never know what may happen. After the loss, I’ve taking things more serious and am not afraid to lose again. That is a dangerous mentality for my opponents.
How did you find out that you would be fighting on the Contender Series? How excited are you for this opportunity? Is there any added pressure to fight in front of Dana and the matchmakers?
After my last win, I was told about this opportunity but it didn’t manifest until about a year later. I finished practice one day and had a text telling me it was on. I am beyond excited and can’t wait to put on a show for Dana and the matchmakers. I don’t feel much pressure. I am just ready to just go out and do me.
You’re set to fight Yazan Hajeh who is 6-0. What do you think about him as an opponent and how do you match up with him? How do you envision this fight playing out?
He is a dangerous opponent. I match up well with him as he will most likely try to strike with me. And if he tries to take it to the ground I will be ready. I train with much more qualified grapplers than what he is. I see my putting him to sleep in the 2nd or 3rd rounds when he is tiring and I find his timing.
What are your goals for the rest of this year?
I plan on signing with the UFC and having my debut before the year ends.
How confident are you in getting this UFC contract June 19th?
I am very confident I come home signed to the UFC. I truly believe I belong competing with the best of the best.