Matt Schnell breaks down his fight with Matt Rizzo from TUF 24

BY foxsports • November 15, 2016

First of all, I want to start out by thanking everyone. Whether you’re just jumping in on my team or if you’ve been with me since the beginning, I have been so overwhelmed and so grateful for all of the support I’ve gotten in the last few days. I have worked hard and I give this my all 100% of the time.

I pride myself on being a well-rounded fighter. People often times mistake me for a striker,but I’m a purple belt in jiu jitsu under UFC vet Tim Creduer. My style has always been aggressive and I attribute this to my lineage and instructors who have influenced my game.

This matchup between Matt Rizzo and I wasn’t ideal because I prefer someone who has clean technique on the feet, but I knew I’d be able to grapple with him despite his experience advantage. I’ve always enjoyed testing myself against higher ranked opponents, and I believe it brings out the best in me.

I was really happy with the way they featured my pretty girlfriend Morgan. This little lady is a huge component and driving factor in my career. She and I have been together long-distance for almost five years now. She’s my number one, my team captain. She holds me down in a way that no one else can understand. She truly is everything to me. She doesn’t miss my fights - even if she can’t be there in person, she’s watching over Facetime through one of my family members.

It’s important to me that my family loves Morgan as much as I do. It hasn’t always been the smoothest road, but I could not be happier with the love and support I get from all of them together.

Leading up to this fight, I knew it was the biggest of my career to date. My coaches weren’t trying to change anything about my skill set, we just worked to sharpen all of my weapons. Coach K did a great job helping me prepare for this battle. We were always on the same page and i was satisfied with my fight preparation. Something very interesting about being on "The Ultimate Fighter" is getting to see your opponent preparing to fight you on screen.

I found it a little amusing that Rizzo and Team Benavidez greatly underestimated my ground game and my ability to defend myself against Rizzo’s takedowns. I knew I’d be able to fight this dude anywhere.

The weight cut was tough, it always is. When the competition started, I was one of the heavier guys in the house. I managed things well and really only felt a small amount of discomfort towards the end. The definition of “hangry” should have my picture at 125 pounds next to it.

I try not to get myself into situations where I’ll get upset with anyone, but I usually have to apologize to a few people after the cut. My favorite thing to eat once I’ve made weight is my mom’s chicken fettuccine alfredo, it really hits the spot and re-energizes me. She typically brings me a huge pan after every weigh-in and I will snack on it that night and over the next day. Since Momma wasn't there, I had to make my own. It wasn't quite the same but it would have to do.

The day of the fight was a roller coaster of nerves. I had felt all of these emotions before, it was very familiar, but this time it felt a little different. There was pressure galore. Even though this fight was huge and so important, I just kept reminding myself this is just another fight. This is just another step towards my dream.

When the fight started I immediately noticed that he moved really awkwardly which made it hard for me to time him. He seemed nervous a little jerky on the feet, it really threw me off. The best exchange I had of the whole fight was the initial one. I was able to slip his cross and fire one back and it kinda skipped off his arm and made him punch himself.

Unfortunately, that was kind of the best shot of the fight for me. I felt like I was about to gain momentum after that exchange because, even though the punch didn't connect cleanly, it definitely hurt him. Right when I started to move forward, Rizzo did a great job of closing the distance and creating a grappling exchange. We were fighting at a very fast pace. I kept getting close on my sub attempts, and it caused me to get a bit greedy. Each time I would attempt a sub and miss, it would really take it out of me.

Honestly, in the first round, Rizzo did an excellent job of making me fight a difficult fight. When the first round ended I was pretty tired. Second round starts and we really just get right back to same fight. Right as I started to get my movement working, Rizzo attempted a takedown but ended up pulling guard. A scramble ensued and I wound up on my back again. At this point i really felt like I was letting this thing get away from me.

I needed to stand but Rizzo was doing a decent job of covering my hips. I always try to stay active off my back and I believe my little pop shot elbows are what created the opening for me to push my triangle through. When I locked it in, I knew it was over - Matt Rizzo tapped and it was such a relieving moment.

I was a little disappointed following the fight. I felt like I let the moment swallow me up and it caused me to underperform. Looking back, I believe Rizzo just did a great job, and I was not very economical with my energy. I know that my friends, family, and fans have been waiting for this fight, and I was a little disappointed with myself in how sloppy I looked and felt. But I got the win, bringing me one step closer to DJ and my ultimate goal.

This martial arts journey has been such an amazing ride and I am sincerely appreciative of opportunities it has created for me. When I walked into Brent Mason's Elite Combat Academy, over eight years ago, I couldn't have possibly imagined that it would lead to this. Special thanks to all the people out there who have encouraged me. I've never set goals for myself in an attempt to prove anyone wrong. My biggest motivating factor has always been the people who believed. Stay tuned everyone. We're on to a new chapter.

Next week we'll be wrapping up the first round with an exciting matchup between Tim Elliot and Charlie Aliniz. Both of these guys are wild men. Expect much of the same.



share story