Jake Matthews faced off in a welterweight bout against Bojan Velickovic tonight (Sat., Nov. 18, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 121 mixed martial arts (MMA) event from inside Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney, Australia, broadcast live on FOX Sports 1. Both men are young and talented, but have been facing rough patches in their career lately, and were looked to get back on track tonight. Fortunately for the fans, it was the hometown hero, Matthews, that did just enough to edge out Bojan.

Bojan came out looking for his straight left hand. Matthews darted in behind a doubled overhand to drive in on a single-leg against the fence. Bojan elbowed him in the head as he fought the hands and kept his base. They stayed in this battle for a good two minutes until Matthews finally ran the pipe and got Bojan to the ground. Bojan got to his base and stood up against the cage, with Matthews pushing him back against it. Bojan tried to get free and kneed Matthews in the gut. Eventually Bojan got off the cage but Matthews got him right back against it. With a minute left in the round Matthews pulled Bojan’s leg off the cage with his own and got him to the canvas. Bojan looked for a heel and Matthews stood, dangerously close to upkicks. Bojan got to his feet but Matthews stayed on his back like glue until the round ended. That was an attritional takedown battle for basically all of round one, and those battles inherently favor the offensive wrestler, despite how hard Bojan made him work for his few takedowns.

Bojan got after it immediately in the second round, going for a flying knee and pressuring Matthews against the cage. When Matthews shot, Bojan used a guillotine to reverse Matthews and get full mount. Matthews gave up his back, and Bojan looked for the rear-naked choke as Matthews turtled. Eventually Matthews worked back to his feet. He got a brief takedown on Bojan. Matthews spent the rest of the round darting in with overhand rights that connected, while Bojan worked with straight punches and kicks.

Bojan looked for his left straight and Matthews hurled his overhand right to start the third frame. Matthews got in on a single-leg, didn’t get it, then turned it into a double-leg and drove Bojan straight to the mat. Bojan tried to control the wrist in guard, while Matthews postured up and looked for ground and pound. Bojan somersaulted away and got in on a takedown of his own against the cage, putting Matthews on his back. Matthews tried to get up but Bojan wrapped up his legs, eventually taking his back as Matthews tried to stand. Matthews tripoded, and Bojan slipped over his back and ended up on the bottom again. Matthews held him down in half guard. Bojan tried to get a kimura, then tried to get up, but this time Matthews took his back. Bojan nearly pulled off the same move Matthews did to shuck him off, but Matthews kept position very cleverly. He ended the fight taking Bojan down again, with Bojan halfway to his back but not quite able to get there. That was a close, technical battle of very talented young mixed martial artists.

Jake Matthews got the win by split decision, and knelt on the floor, overcome with emotion. He said after twelve months off, he was almost in tears, thankful for his coaches, friends, and family who have stood by him in a difficult time in his career. This was his welterweight debut, and he looks to be in the right weight class for him moving forward.

Official result: Jake Matthews def. Bojan Velickovic via split decision (28-29, 29-28×2)

For complete Fight Night 121 results, including play-by-play, click here