HOUSTON, TX, July 27, 2011 – It must be Heroes Week at the Legacy Amateur Series scheduled to culminate this Friday at Houston’s House of Blues. Yesterday we interviewed Houston Firefighter Chris Kelly. Today we feature United States Marine Matt Steward, a College Station resident and BVMMA fighter looking to make his way back into the winner’s circle with a victory over Team Hoger’s Christian Sutton.
As a 2-0 fighter, Matt Steward last fought for the Legacy Amateur Series (then named Lonestar Beatdown) way back in October 2008, earning a TKO victory over Gracie Barra’s Brian Daricek after his opponent quit before the start of the second round.
Since that last win, Steward has disappeared from the MMA scene as a fighter after getting hit hard with a plethora of severe injuries including a hurt back and a busted knee. Doctors told him he couldn’t find again but undaunted, Matt has worked his tail off and rehabilitated his body to the point where he feels comfortable stepping into the cage again this Friday at Legacy.
In this upcoming fight Steward will be taking on fellow Armed Forces vet Christian Suttton (Navy), another fighter who’s gone through his own issues with injury and other hardships on the way to Friday night’s fights. With such a long road behind them in order to even step into the cage, it’ll be a moral victory for these men just to finally be able to step into the cage again. But how are they going to react when the fight actually begins?
Somehow I think we’re in for one heck of a fight between these two.
Thanks for talking to us on the eve of your fight Matt. To start with, let’s introduce you to our readers. How did you originally get involved in the fight game?
I’m originally from Waco and came down to Texas A&M in 2000 but I decided engineering wasn’t going to work for me and I didn’t want to be in school at that time so I went to the Marine Corps for the change of pace. I was in the Marine Corps from 2003-2007. I was stationed out in Hawaii and got introduced to Gracie Combatives. I was driving back to base on day and saw a sign for that and Jiu Jitsu so I just decided to jump in. That’s what got me started. I did that off-and-on until I got out of the military in 2007. After I moved back to College Station, I’ve graduated with my degree in management and also jumped in full-time with Brazos Valley MMA.
What’s it like training over at BVMMA? What’s the environment like over there?
Man, everybody here is just one big family honestly. Everyone here takes care of each other and supports each other. I know when it comes down to it, this isn’t a team sport and everybody has to step in and perform on their own but to get there you have to have a good team around you. I say that not just for the technical or physical training part of it but also for the mental and emotional support. Training for a fight is draining. Especially if you’re not doing this full-time and making a lot of money, which none of us are, you need that support around you – especially when you’ve got all sorts of other things going on in your life. So yeah, everybody takes care of our own here. We have fun. We train hard. And we try to make sure everyone is okay all at the same time.
It’s been awhile since fans have seen you in the cage. How would you describe yourself as a fighter?
I guess the first thing that comes to mind is Jiu Jitsu, since that was my original base. I’ve added a lot of wrestling though and also striking as well. Wrestling seems like the key most of the time. Whether you want to keep the fight standing or you want to take it to the ground, a lot of times it all comes down to being the better wrestler.
How’s this training camp been going? Who’s helped you the most in getting ready for this fight?
Dave (McClung) and Bubba (Bush) are my coaches and they always work with me. Also, as a group we’ve been going out to American Fight Company in Killeen to work with Jarrod Clontz up there and that’s been really good training. Big thanks to all those guys. For this fight Bubba has probably been my biggest sparring partner. Him and Payson Pilosi has spent a lot of time working with me.
What do you know about your opponent Christian Sutton?
Well I know he’s taller than me and he’s a strong kickboxer. He’s also a little bit older but that doesn’t matter. He’s just another opponent in my way this Friday night. It’s been long time since I’ve been back in the cage – about two-and-a-half years. I’m just happy to get back there.
I’m 2-0 but it’s been a long road getting back in there for this third one. I’ve had a lot of injuries, some major ones too along the way. I’ve had to deal with a whole lot of crap but I’m making it through. I think it all goes back to BVMMA being that second family. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here now.
So how are you feeling this week? What are you anticipating it will feel like to get back in there?
Knowing I’ll get to fight is one of the greatest feelings in the world. I had a point in my life where I had two busted discs in my back and had just gotten through a knee surgery. The doctors told me I was never going to do anything again. They told me I shouldn’t lift weights and that I was definitely never going to fight but here I am. I just gave those guys a big “screw you” and leaned on the people around me while working my ass off to get to this point where I can step back in the cage.
I feel great now. I’m healthier than I’ve been in ten years honestly and I’m already looking forward to that rush I know I’ll get when that cage door shuts. It’ll be rush. This is the oldest sport known to man and when it comes down to it, there’s no bullshit. It’ll just be me and Christian Sutton and we’ll see who did the work, who didn’t, who’s better, and who isn’t. I’m just going to do what I do and step back out of that cage with a victory. No matter what happens, it’ll be gratifying.
Any last words before the Legacy Amateur Series, Matt?
I just want to give one more shoutout to all my teammates at BVMMA along with all my coaches. Bubba, Dave, Jarrod, everyone from AFC and also a big thanks to Cellucor for hooking up the supplements and supporting our team!
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