Matt Manzanares Knows RFA Title Would be a Huge Step Towards UFC

Matt ManzanaresIt seems of late that 125-pound up-and-comer Matt Manzanares can never catch a break. Every time it seems he takes a step forward, something happens to set him back.

Coming off a year in 2012 that saw him win three of four fights, Manzanares had a couple of opportunities to take his career to the next level last year, but things ended up not working out either time.

“Last year at the beginning of the year I was supposed to fight Sergio Pettis, but unfortunately had to pull out due to injury,” said Manzanares. “Fortunately, I got back on track with the win over Steve Swanson.

“To close out the year, I fought Zach Makovsky for the RFA 125-pound belt. That fight didn’t go my way, but I learned a lot from it like where I’m at as far as my training and physical abilities are. I’m just rebounding off that fight and I’m really training hard and am ready to go for this next one.”

When asked if he made changes to his game after his fight with Makovsky, Manzanares told, “Not necessarily.

“I just picked up on a few things as far as like wrestling and trying to be on the mat every single night and getting my wrestling. Just keeping my intensity up and just getting better, stronger, healthier, and smarter with my fighting.”

Manzanares (6-2) will look to get back on track against veteran Leandro Higo (13-2) for the vacant RFA 125-pound championship on Friday, April 11, in Cheyenne, Wyo.

“Leandro has a terrific ground game and has most of his wins by submission, but if you watch my last fight, I defended a lot of submissions from Makovsky, and I was in some very deep ones. So I think my submission defense is going to be a key factor in this fight,” said Manzanares.

“(When standing) he’s really aggressive and likes to go for the knockout. So as far as him coming forward a lot and being really aggressive, I think that plays into my style because I should be able to pick him apart with my striking and use my angles.”

Having just come off a title fight, Manzanares feels that the longer the fight goes on, the more it will play into his favor.

“My last fight was a title fight and it went all five rounds and I didn’t get finished, so I have a positive mindset as far as that goes,” he said. “I’ve just kept the same type of training and kept growing off of that knowing that I can go five rounds.

“I think my stamina is going to last a lot longer than his, especially since he’s coming up to altitude. Even though he’s going to come in great shape, I don’t think he’ll be able to last five rounds with me.”

With Pettis and Makovsky having moved on to the UFC, Manzanares would like to follow them, but he knows he has to take care of business on April 11 to have any hopes of that.

“If I don’t win this fight, there is no moving on to the next big thing,” he said. “So I’m just focused on this fight, taking it day by day, and getting better every time out.”

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