Rounds one and two are best described as a slug-fest, with Matt pushing the pace and aggressively moving forward. This made it difficult for Nate to get settled and work his Muay Thai game, probably his biggest strength. At times, Matt would put Nate on the cage and attempt takedowns. Nate’s cage defense was solid though, and this would result in a stalemate, forcing the action back into the striking game. Bienia slipped a few times during the fight (partly due to a new cage canvas), which probably didn’t help his cause with the judges. At 44 seconds of the third round, Matt connected with an overhand right and Nate fell backwards to the mat. Matt immediately took top position and began to work his jiu-jitsu game. After looking for a choke from the front for a bit, Matt spun to Nate’s back. Ghareeb was defending well, but Matt slid over his back to set up the “face-down” arm-bar. Matt, intelligently turned Nate face up, but Nate continued to defend. After some smart technical adjustments, Matt was able to get the tap and secure the win. Nate and his team showed a lot of class afterwards with great sportsmanship, which can be rare sometimes in this sport.
Matt worked especially hard during his fight camp, which went through the holiday season. Huge credit also goes to the fight team, who also showed up for training every week, including: Neil Von Flatern, Chris Brouse, Chris Bradley, Tilo Jackson, Chris Kupernik, Trace Kimple and Keith Sansoucy. Also key to Matt’s success is his awesome wife and training partner Karyn, who helped Matt with everything from diet and nutrition to cornering the fight.
Congratulations to Matt and Team ZenQuest for this incredible performance! Special thanks to the team sponsors for their support. Keep an eye out for more amazing stuff from team ZenQuest in the new year.