Credit: Fabio Barbieri Photography

Road to Padova Fight Night: interview with Mattia Schiavolin

A conversation across the board with "Aittam", between his return to the cage against Krasnikov and the title match at Venator FC 4

A comeback to Italy with a window on the world for Mattia “Aittam” Schiavolin (14-2-2 MMA), again in action in his home country for 2 times within 4 months. The first will be on Sunday at Padova Fight Night, during which he will face the Ukrainian Dmitriy Krasnikov (5-1-1 MMA). Subsequently, the Paduan athlete will compete for the Venator “international” middleweight title  against Jonas Billstein at Venator FC 4, scheduled for May 5th in Milan.

We spoke of these fights and other topics with the person concerned in an all-out interview for MMA Today.

MMA Today: You’ll be back fighting in Italy after almost 2 years. How did Mattia Schiavolin change during this period?

Mattia Schiavolin: In this period I tried to fill in some gaps I had both in my striking and ground game. I feel improved compared to 2 years ago, I think I have raised the bar also from a mental focus standpoint. I can’t wait to put myself to the test as soon as possible.

MT: Where did you train while you were away from competition? We saw you in several photos at Khalid Fight Team, Gloria Fight Center and Allstars Gym.

MS: Yes, the Khalid Fight Team is my home, where I have my team that represents family for me. Then I had some great experiences at Allstars in Stockholm, Gustafsson’s gym, where I found myself at ease with the instructor Andreas (Michael) and all the guys. Magnificent place, really a great team. Later, a collaboration began with Lorenzo Borgomeo’s Gloria Fight Center.

MT: Coming close to Padova Fight Night, have you had the opportunity to study Dmitriy Krasnikov in particular? What kind of a fighter do you think he is?

MS: Yes, we have studied the opponent as usual, analyzing his weak spots and those where he’s at his best. I have gathered that he is an essentially solid opponent, as tenacious as most Eastern fighters are. An athlete who does not give up and is often on the offensive. However, we are prepared and ready to face him.

MT: Not only you’ll be in action at PFN, but you will also be part of Venator FC 4. Is it a sign that the events in our country, in your opinion, have raised their level on par with those organized outside?

MS: Yes, certainly the quality of MMA in Italy has risen in recent years. Venator has always been the most important event in the country, as shown by the cards that have been set up. I think we are approaching some European shows, we are working to reach the level of the biggest ones.

MT: It has often been claimed that it was hard to get you to fight in Italy because of your “cachet”. How do you respond to this statement?

MS: I simply always asked for appropriate sums for what I do. I have not enriched myself so far with this sport, the figures I asked for are more than feasible, it’s not that I feel like I’m McGregor. Logically, then, is up to who proposed me a match what kind of a purse he wants to give me. I want to take this opportunity to make an appeal to those accompanying the athletes to fight. Very often many accept fights with really ridiculous purses, don’t do it. We know that the athlete always wants to fight, but when the work done by people isn’t respected you should not accept.

MT: In your return to Venator, you will face Jonas Billstein for the “international” middleweight title. Given its extensive experience in promotion such as Bellator, GMC and ACB, do you think the German is an opponent that satisfies your hunger for international challenges?

MS: Certainly he is a strong opponent, it is important to measure myself against athletes who have fought in important events on a worldwide basis. I am sure that, a little at a time, I will be able to deal with higher-level fighters.

MT: The current owner of the VFC middleweight belt, Pietro Penini, has not been stripped of his crown, but remains among the best in the promotion as the “Italian middleweight champion”. Would you accept a fight against him to decree the undisputed king of middleweights?

MS: Currently I would not accept this challenge, more than anything else because I want to confront myself with international opponents, without taking anything away from Pietro. I know him, he’s a strong fighter who is getting noticed, a boy who is maturing. However, at this moment I like to fight against people who come from outside. In the future, who knows, maybe this fight will take place.

MT: In your last match, you fought for the Superior FC title, making it yours against Goran Reljic. Later it has been taken away from you, would you be interested in having another match in order to tie it back around your waist?

MS: Right now I’m fighting for Venator, whom I’m happy to fight for. Then, sincerely, the belts of these promotions, even if they’re of an excellent level, interest me up to a certain point. We know that in most of them fighters come and go, not as in high-level organizations such as KSW, Bellator or UFC, where more or less the same athletes tend to stay.

MT: Let’s talk about the UFC: if you were to win your next 2 fights, how close would you be to the long-awaited call? Or do you think you can already be selected in case of emergencies in some European card?

MS: If they call me, I feel ready to go there even now. This does not mean that I don’t look at other non-UFC international level events. As I said before, organizations such as ACB, KSW, ONE and Bellator.

MT: You’re staying steadily in the top 5 at middleweight according to MMA Ranking Italia: by the end of the year do you think you can steal someone’s spot on the podium, if not even take the first place?

MS: Honestly I have never looked at those charts. I could take a look at a ranking made by fighters, for the rest I’m just focusing on doing well match after match.

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