Flyweight Prospect Matt Manzanares: “I Never Thought I Would Be Where I’m At Right Now”
By Kelsey Mowatt
Thanks to an undefeated professional record and an impressive run during an amateur career, which lasted from 2009 through 2011, it hasn’t taken Matt Manzanares long to register as a flyweight on the rise. In fact, despite having been involved in combative sports for years, even the 25 year-old-fighter has been surprised by how fast his MMA career has been moving.
“I never thought I would be where I’m at right now,” said Manzanares, who has gone 5-0 since he turned professional just last June. “But I knew once I got into it the sky was the limit for me. I was going to work my hardest at it and I wasn’t going to let anything bring me down. I have a loving family and all these supporters who give fighters opportunities to let them know who they are, so that keeps me humble and makes me want to work harder to achieve my goals.”
Of course, it wasn’t that long ago in the world of MMA, that smaller fighters like Manzanares did not share the same kind of high profile and well paying opportunities that heavier fighters did.
“I always thought I was going to be fighting at 135 my whole career,” Manzanares noted, who also holds down a full time job with the Wyoming Highway Department. “I didn’t even know there was a 125 pound division when I first got into mixed-martial-arts. When they announced last year that they were going to bring it to the UFC…it just fueled my heart and I started training harder. That’s definitely where I want to be. That’s my goal.”
Manzanares’s road to professional MMA started when he took up boxing as an eight-year-old, before he began rounding out his fighting skills at the age of 21.
“I found a trainer in my hometown (Cheyenne); his name is Jerry Davis,” Manzanares relayed to FCF. “He’s a tenth degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and I heard from a few people that he was training people in mixed-martial-arts. I knew with my boxing background and experience that MMA would be a good start for me and I started fighting amateur in 2009.”
“I like to get wins by knockout,” Manzanares added, while discussing how his boxing background has affected his mindset and strategies for MMA. “I mean who doesn’t? I prefer to fight on my feet but if it goes to the ground that’s fine with me…If it goes to the ground I’m ready.”
Most recently, Manzanares scored a third round stoppage win over Cody Land, while the Black Dragon Martial Arts fighter was competing on a Disorderly Conduct card in April.
“It was a really important win for my career,” said Manzanares, who TKO’d Chris Haney one month earlier at a Xtreme Gladiator Challenge event. “Anybody can go on a couple fight win streak but when you go on a five fight win streak, as a professional, it’s pretty good, especially by all stoppages.”
Up next, Manzanares will take on Aaron Ely at Resurrection Fighting Alliance’s June 30th card in Kearney, Nebraska.
“What I know about him is that he’s a really, really good fighter,” Manzanares said about Ely, who had won three straight bouts before he lost by split decision to Laramie Shaffer at RFA 2 in March. “He’s a tough guy, good wrestler, and he’s very technical on his feet and on the ground. I’ve got my hands full for this fight.”
The upcoming RFA 3 card will be headlined by a bout between UFC vet Joe Stevenson and former TUF Live competitor Dakota Cochrane.
“I’m definitely humbled to be part of this card,” Manzanares noted. “They have some big names on it, and I’m just starting out my career, so this is a big jump for me too. I think it’s going to be a real positive for my career especially if I get the win. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”