Back in 2015, it appeared as if Australia’s Jake Matthews was on the right path to becoming a top contender in the UFC.
Over the last three years, though, Matthews has struggled, going just 3-3 with a first round loss to Kevin Lee.
This Saturday night, Matthews (11-3) has the chance to put together another win streak when he faces off against Li Jingliang as part of the UFC 221 pay-per-view main card from Perth, Western Australia and the Perth Arena.
As one of a handful of Australia natives competing on the card, the 23-year-old “Celtic Kid” from Melbourne would like nothing more than continue his return to the welterweight division with a triumph.
This past November, Matthews returned to 170 pounds, earning a split decision against Bojan Velickovic. He debuted at lightweight in 2014 with a submission win in the third round vs .Dashon Johnson in his Octagon debut from Auckland, New Zealand.
Matthews followed that up with a technical submission of Vagner Rochda in Sydney, Australia before suffering his first loss in his ninth pro bout, dropping a first round submission to James Vick.
The UFC gave Matthews two more bouts in Australia and he delivered, stopping Akbarh Arreola in the second and submitting Johnny Case in the third. Fighting for the first time away from home was devastating for Matthews, as he lost to Lee in Las Vegas and was bested by Andrew Holbrook to close out 2016.
After discussing his career, Matthews elected to move back up to 170 pounds. He competed in the division on The Ultimate Fighter: The Nations, losing to Olivier Aubin-Mercier in the quarterfinals via decision.
Matthews cannot afford a slip up in Australia, as the welterweight division is fast-moving and can easily see a fighter lose his standing rather quickly. Look for the youngster to come out firing on all cylinders in hopes of adding to his 11 career wins and nine career finishes.