After many delays, Clay Matza is ready to crush his pro debut at Jackson’s MMA Series 26
Martial arts have been a part of Clay Matza’s life since grade school. He started with boxing and moved around to different martial arts every time he had to move for his dad’s government job. But he never stopped training. Including in college when his gym closed, he and his buddies would train in the park during classes. During the summers, Matza would stay with a Muay Thai coach he met and would train with him. After he graduated from college with a criminal justice degree, Matza went to Thailand to train and compete.
From the beginning of Matza’s martial arts training, it was inevitable that he was going to fight.
“I knew I was going to fight eventually.”
After a few months of training in Thailand and taking two fights, Matza came back to the United States without a place to stay and he didn’t like the job prospects that came with his degree. So after considering his options, he headed to Albuquerque, NM to train at JacksonWink because they offered dorms where fighters could stay.
Before Matza even went to college or went to Thailand or Albuquerque, Matza had two MMA fights when he was 18-years-old, which didn’t go his way. In total Matza had four amateur MMA fights and eight amateur Muay Thai fights, including a Muay Thai fight at a biker rally.
“I fought at a biker rally in Red Lodge, Monatana. It was kinda a fun one, it was just me and my coach who drove up. I remember these guys with these biker vests on, if that’s what you call it. There were no locker rooms and I was warming up right next to my opponent. I had all my stuff and I handed it to one of the biker guys and was like “can you watch my stuff?”. It was a funny time.”
Though the Muay Thai fight was fun, Matza had a rough start to his MMA career starting 0-2.
“I started off pretty rough in MMA, I lost my first two, a lot of it was a lack of mental preparation.”
Both of those fights were before he started training at JacksonWink. Since then, he is 2-0 and has been working with the sports psychologist at the elite training center to make those corrections
Not only is Matza working on his mental game with the elite MMA gym, but he is working on his physical game as well. The luxury of training at JacksonWink is that he has gotten to train with many of the elite fighters at the camp including Lando Vannata, Ray Borg and John Dodson. Also critical to his camps has been New Zealander, Brogan Anderson who Matza considers one of his biggest influences.
Now Matza is looking to make his professional debut. It was originally supposed to happen over the summer but he had opponent issues and a lingering injury kept him out. He has been dealing with a torn labrum which was done last year. He has been fighting through it instead of getting it fixed, he just considers it an ache.
In a way, Matza is grateful that his fight was postponed till now because he has learned a lot over the past few months.
“For this one, I feel like I’ve learned from some of these other things. My preparation has been more focused and more specific and it feels like it’s coming at the right time. I’m more prepared for it now than I would’ve been in June.”
Now on October 27, Matza will fight Jorrel Sparenberg for Jackson Fight Series. This will also be Matza’s first time dropping down to the bantamweight division. Matza’s teammate, Jesse Tafoya, defeated Sparenberg as an amateur, but though Matza talked to Tafoya, he doesn’t think that his teammate’s fight will teach him much about his opponent.
“I talked to Jesse a little bit but that fight was a while ago, I think 2015 or 2016. And Jesse and I have different styles and I’m sure this guy has improved. I took a little insight from it but nothing I didn’t seen from the film and nothing I really thought, oh I need to address.”
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After many long months I have finally scheduled my professional mixed martial arts debut. I want to thank everyone who has helped me supported me and kept me sane and positive in this long and testing year, October 27th will be a celebration of perseverance, great friends, and a love of martial arts and I cannot wait to live out my dreams with the help of great people. #jacksonsmmaseries
The soon to be minted bantamweight thinks Sparenberg is tall and scrappy but doesn’t measure up to him skill wise.
“Skill wise, I don’t think it’s going to be that close.”
“I just think that between my mobility and the power, I think I’ll be able to find my shots early.”
And according to Matza, it will be an early night for his opponent.
“I feel, sometime in the second half of the first round (I’ll get the finish).”