Matt MacGrath Hoping to “Leap Frog” Forward with Win Over Marcus Aurelio
By Kelsey Mowatt
While Matt MacGrath’s recent unanimous decision win over former “Ultimate Fighter” competitor Dean Amasinger certainly helped spread the word about the Canadian veteran’s abilities, the Prince Edward Island fighter is the first to concede that he’s far from a household name. For some time now, MacGrath has been mentioned in Canadian MMA circles as a fighter who could be one or two significant wins away from international recognition, and after nearly five years of fighting, the 31 year-old could be on the verge of doing just that. This week, MacGrath will head to London, Ontario to face UFC and Pride veteran Marcus Aurelio, and the importance of the fight isn’t lost on the Titans MMA vet.
“I think it would definitely leap frog me forward so I’m definitely putting the time in,” MacGrath told FCF while discussing what a win over Aurelio could do for his career. “I think a win over him would be seen all over. It’s funny, a friend of mine Jason Saggo, he’s also on the MMA Live card, he texted me to say he was fighting on the card and we were joking back-and-forth, and I said ‘yeah I’m fighting this guy, maybe you’ve heard of him, his name is Marcus Aurelio.”
Of course, Aurelio (20-9) is a widely recognized fighter due to his extensive accomplishments, which includes wins over renowned fighters like Takanori Gomi, Masakazu Imanari and Rich Clementi. Although the 37 year-old-veteran is 6-4 in his last ten fights and is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Dream lightweight champ Shinya Aoki, MacGrath recognizes that the American Top Team fighter remains a considerable threat.
“Obviously I have a lot of respect for a guy like that,” said MacGrath, who stepped in for the injured Corey MacDonald to face Aurelio on the upcoming, May 19th MMA Live card. “He has tons of experience. Obviously his game plan is going to be to take me to the ground and tap me out.”
“He still has mid-level wrestling, he has a quick shot, and his game is from the top,” MacGrath added, who is Judo black belt that also has competitive wrestling experience. “He has really good control from the top so if it goes to the ground I want to be on top. Stand-up, I plan on defending his takedowns, gas him, and use my hands. I have a really good chin, I’ve never been knocked out, and my coaches keep telling me I need to use my hands more.”
The win over Amasinger came at a pivotal time for MacGrath, who was coming off a submission loss to Kalib Starnes at a Wreck MMA card in January. In fact, of MacGrath’s five pro defeats, four have come against UFC veterans, so earning a win over a former Octagon competitor was key.
“He probably is the biggest name I’ve fought,” said MacGrath, who stepped in on short notice to face Amasinger. “I don’t think he’s the toughest guy I’ve fought, as far as pushing my pace, but as far as his name he’s right up there.”
The April 2nd bout was fairly competitive early on, but as the fight continued, MacGrath surged ahead by taking Amasinger to the mat and scoring strikes from above.
“I felt good about my control aspect,” said MacGrath, who also holds wins over Canadian veterans Ryan Machan and Daniel Grandmaison. “Now that I’ve watched it I see that I could have probably used my hands a lot more. He really didn’t threaten me with his hands, I was holding my own and I could have probably tried to finish him standing. But after losing to Kalib there in January I wanted to make sure I got the win.”
While MacGrath managed to record what is likely his biggest win to date, aside from his upcoming bout with Aurelio, the welterweight claims he’s having trouble finding fights.
“I want to try to fight any of the guys here in Canada,” said MacGrath. “I would love to fight Ryan Ford, I’d like to fight Nick Hinchliffe, I’d love a rematch with Corey MacDonald, I lost by decision to him a few years ago; none of these guys will fight me. I couldn’t even get on a fight card; the only reason I’m on this card is because MacDonald had to pull out.”