Hex Welterweight Title-Challenger Matt Vaile: “You Better Keep Your Eyes Open”
Matt Vaile is the current XFC Welterweight Champion and one of the fastest rising prospects coming out of New Zealand. The 26-year-old has defended his title a total of four times since winning it in early 2016.
Now, he has his eyes set on adding another piece of hardware to the collection. In his way is the juggernaut Kitt “The Killer” Campbell, reigning Hex Fight Series Welterweight Champion.
The two are set to clash at Hex Fight Series 13 in Melbourne, Australia at the Melbourne Pavilion on March 23.
Matt Vaile joined John Hyon Ko of Kumite Radio to talk about his transition into MMA, putting pressure on his opponents, learning from his only defeat, New Zealand producing impactful fighters, Luke Jumeau being a mentor, elevating his game at Phuket Top Team, what is on the line against Kitt Campbell, and more.
Notable excerpts from the interview:
John Hyon Ko: What exactly got you hooked on mixed martial arts?
Matt Vaile: “I like the aggressiveness of it. In kickboxing and boxing, the ref comes in and stops the fight when someone gets knocked down and you go back again. But with MMA, you sort of got no second chances. Either you’re in it or you’re not.”
John Hyon Ko: Is that your style to go in and overwhelm?
Matt Vaile: “Always have some sort of set plan for the person but I always try to keep the pressure on the person. It just comes naturally, just the high tempo and a lot of people just can’t keep up with it.”
John Hyon Ko: What did you learn from your only lose at Carnage of the Cage 7 for the vacant welterweight title?
Matt Vaile: “I obviously had big holes in my game to do with takedown defense and wrestling which I never really worked too much on. And it showed in (the fight). But after that fight, we went straight to the drawing board and started working on all those things. Now, I can’t see any flaws in those areas.”
John Hyon Ko: How has Luke Jumeau impacted your career?
Matt Vaile: “I started quite young so I always looked up to him. We hold each other accountable for everything. Push each other to the limit. It’s been awesome having him because he keeps you real honest.”
John Hyon Ko: Do you think that [Kitt Campbell] is the strongest opponent so far in your career?
Matt Vaile: “I feel like I haven’t versed anyone of his style as of yet. By the people he has been putting away, it’s a really good match to make. I think that winning this fight will definitely prove my case that I own a spot in the UFC.”
John Hyon Ko: You’re going in as the challenge but you’ve been the champion, is your mindset different?
Matt Vaile: “The mindset is always the same. No other option but to win!”