When Matt Frevola made the walk last November in Madison Square Garden, it was a dream come true. The Long Island, New York native, who grew up about an hour away from “The World’s Most Famous Arena”, made the most of his opportunity at UFC 281. 

The crowd popped when the 32-year-old landed a left hook that finished Ottman Azaitar early in the fight. 

“It was pretty amazing and then to get the finish like I got, just a nice clean first round knockout, it was a dream come true…I think May 6, we’re gonna top it,” said Matt Frevola, who makes his tenth UFC appearance at UFC 288 against Drew Dober. 

Frevola, who grew up a multi-sport athlete, credits amateur wrestling for his ambitious mindset. He started practicing jiu-jitsu under UFC Hall of Famer Matt Serra, who introduced him to Gracie Tampa South’s Matt Arroyo. It kicked off his mixed martial arts career. 

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“Wrestling really transformed me and taught me about hard work, taught me about grit,” Matt Frevola said. “I moved down to Tampa, Florida…I had all my amateur fights [and the] beginning of my pro career down in Tampa.”

After graduating from The University of Tampa, Frevola (10-3-1 Draw, six finishes) moved back to Long Island where he now trains full-time with Serra and Ray Longo under the Serra-Longo Fight Team, a group that includes UFC champion Aljamain Sterling, Merab Dvalishvili and Chris Weidman, to name a select few. 

Frevola, who made a successful UFC debut in Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) in August 2017, is fueled by the amount of homegrown talent that surrounds him. 

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Along with his fierce grappling and stand-up game, Frevola’s greatest weapon is the knowledge he gains from a team full of former and current UFC champions. 

“Watching how Matt Serra upset [Georges St-Pierre], Chris Weidman upsets Anderson Silva and then Aljamain Sterling upsets Petr Yan… To see people from where I’m from, being able to reach the top of the mountain and get UFC gold is just inspiring.”

Since joining the promotion in 2017, ‘The SteamRolla’ has won five of his nine UFC fights, including a unanimous decision win over current No. 10 ranked 155-pounder Jalin Turner. 

It will take a win over No. 14 ranked Dober at UFC 288 to potentially place unranked Frevola in the top-15 of the lightweight division. Dober, who has finished his last three opponents by knockout and once faced champion Islam Makhachev, will undoubtedly be one of the biggest tests in Frevola’s nine-year pro career. 

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Matt Frevola plots a lightweight title run with a win over Drew Dober

While his recent TKO win over Azaitar was a career highlight, Matt Frevola’s ultimate goal is to add a UFC championship to his trophy case. An impressive win over Dober could lay the groundwork for a run at MMA immortality.

“I want to be the champion of the world. That’s the goal from the beginning and this fight against Dober gets us where we want to be.”

Marc Ray has lived his entire life in Houston, Texas, where he was born, raised and attended the University of Houston, studying broadcast journalism. As you may imagine, he spends much of his time watching mixed martial arts as part of his daily routine — not only to pump himself up, but also because he deeply enjoys the sport. Ray has worked for Houston Public Media, where he interned in the newsroom and produced community stories. Ray also created sports features in Houston for El Gato Media Network and occasionally produced content for an internship at AARP.