Matthew Nicholson reveals that Saturday’s fight at Contenders 33 could perhaps be his last, as he aims to go out with a bang when squared up with David Panfil.
The Crystal Palace National Sports Centre will host the action on Sept.3. Those attending and tuning in on PPV can expect to see professional and amateur bouts.
We spoke with Matthew ahead of Saturday night to see how he’s feeling just days out from fight night. Read the full interview below.
Interview With Matthew Nicholson
This week will see you make your return after a break from competition. How has life been away from the 100mph lifestyle that is the fight game? Are you feeling rejuvenated?
Since my last fight, I did think about my future doing mma. I had to think about what I wanted in life and put pen to paper about what makes me happy. I have been investing my time in the pro wrestling world for the last four years now, and I always knew it was something I had
an interest in. I felt like I needed that time off to feel that fire again to compete. That fire died out because I turned pro, but I wanted a pro-fight before I decided what I wanted to do otherwise. My career was a pure amateur, and nothing was gained from it. I got a bit of that fire back after a big ko win on my debut but then lost it again after my next. I stayed active in the gym as that’s what built me. If I stop, I get depressed. The gym is good for you.
The last time we saw you in there was against Simeon Powell, who has now gone on to bigger things at PFL and makes waves. Talk to me about that fight. What do you feel went wrong in there, or are you putting it down to just one of those nights at the office?
We studied Simeon through all his fights. We knew he was the best light heavyweight in the UK that hasn’t yet gone Bellator or PFL. I wanted a big fight like that whilst I had the fire in me. I took the challenge and had a game plan. On the night, I got caught with a jumping knee that we had never seen him do in previous fights. The unexpected shots are what cause knockouts, and a strike with that kinda force would take out anyone. It’s a weird one cus it was going as expected until that strike came. My game plan was to land a leg kick every 15 seconds, let’s say. We knew the 1st round was going to be tough, but we were going to tax him on them calf kicks. Before my game plan could fully show its outcome, I got caught clean. In this game, anything can happen, and a jumping knee wasn’t something we expected or trained for. I still believe I can beat him, but that moment has come and gone, and we move forward. I knew he lost to a guy that I had in my camp Josh Grunsell back when they were welterweight.
Matthew Nicholson Talks Layoff
Any particular reason for the long layoff? Have you still been actively training in the gym, although not having a fight scheduled?
I took some time off to reflect. Never been knocked out before, so I had that time to learn how it can affect you. I realise every fighter has been knocked out, even the greatest. Everyone has their prime, and when they are out of their prime etc. Picking yourself up and moving forward can be hard, but you will eventually do it.
Those I have never spoken with before, I like to ask them about their journey into the sport and why they got started. What made you walk into a gym for the very first time?
I sucked at every sport that included a ball and teamwork. However, I was athletic, strong, fit and explosive etc., but my skills were more in gymnastics, wrestling, trampolining, swimming etc. As most, I loved WWE growing up and followed it religiously until I saw Brock Lesnar fight in the UFC. I watched him dominate until he tapped, and I was shocked until I learnt what tapped him and fell in love with BJJ. I realised muscles, and a good punch doesn’t always win fights, and I studied this hidden art. I was 15 when I started Greko Wrestling and followed on doing all aspects of mma when I moved to margate. I had really bad depression growing up, and the only way I could take my mind off it was by training. Even on the days o was sick or overtrained and couldn’t get out of bed properly, I would go and train.
Either that or I would drown. Kept swimming like a shark. So this, on top of having love and belief that god put me on earth to entertain and fight. Anything different was a waste of my potential.
I would love to touch on the wrestling if we could. Let the audience know how that came about as well and how serious you’re taking that?
Yeah, on my break from MMA, I explored the pro wrestling world. A lot of it is who you know and timing and knowing who the promoter is etc. I had a guy called Conor Mills help me get on Wrestleforce promotion, and a guy called Raven Kemp help me get on EWE shows. I enjoyed it whilst it lasted but got burnt out towards the end. It’s a completely different world from MMA. Most of them are cool guys, but a minor few I’ve felt egos etc., where they seem to believe they are as tough as they acted. There were times I was happy with the booking decision and times I felt completely disrespected.
Although I still have a love for it, I don’t like my fate being in someone else’s mindset and decisions about me. It’s a hard one because if im booked right, im happy, but if im booked bad in my mind, it’s not so enjoyable. Give and take, I can handle, but it did start to grate on me. If the opportunity came for a big promotion like WWE, AWE or something like that, I would jump to it immediately. My last match was against a good friend by the wrestling name Don Fury and if that’s my last match, im happy it was with him.
As stated, it’s been some time since we saw you soon. With that comes uncertainty for the audience. What can those attending expect to see from you? Have there been any new tools added to your arsenal?
Yeah, it’s been a while. A year, in fact. The time has flown by. This may be my last fight unless the fire comes back again stronger after. I want to go out with a bang, and I’ve made sure my conditioning is good; as long as I don’t get sick or injured, im ready to roll. If it’s my last, I definitely don’t want it a loss, lol. Im coming for the win and want that finish for the cherry on top.
David Panfil as an Opponent
David Panfil is the man that stands across from you on fight night. What do you know about your opponent, and how do you feel you match up against him?
Dawid seems experienced like me. Earlier in his career, he seemed more of a submission kind of guy, but I see he’s focused on muay Thai. I’ll watch a few more fights leading up to the fight and see if there are things I can pick up on. Overall though, it’s a fight. Who lands, lands, but as long as my conditioning is there to go solid and strong for 3×5, im coming prepared.
Lastly, can we get an official fight prediction?
Win, of course. Im not coming to lose.
Featured image credits to Matthew Nicholson