Bellator fighter AJ Matthews happy to reconnect with Filipino roots

Since moving to Manila, Bellator fighter AJ Matthews enjoys sharing his knowledge of MMA.

Initially looking for a training gym in Manila, Bellator fighter AJ Matthews, along with ONE FC champ Brandon Vera, took it to themselves to work with local MMA fighters and share their knowledge of the sport.

“Training with the local guys started when Brandon and I needed space to train,” says Matthews in an interview with “And because we are part of Alliance we invited anybody that wanted to see what we are about to come and train. I have had a blast so far and hope that the guys that want to compete at the highest level will reach out to train.”

One of the gyms they’ve visited is FIST Gym in Quezon City that hosts fighters like Neil Laraño and Igor Subora. Matthews has been actively helping Subora prepare for his upcoming fight this weekend in Jakarta, Indonesia. He believes that the Ukrainian Subora will be able to finally get the job done. He’ll also be there in Subora’s corner during the fight.

“When it comes to Igor, he already had a good base of skills and I just wanted show him some of the things that work for me,” Matthews quips. “I think he has enjoyed the training and he has kept an open mind to my ideas. He is picking up quickly on some small changes we have made and will be ready for January 14 in One FC.”

Learning from and training with some of the best dudes in the world has given me priceless knowledge and experience.

Matthews, a Bellator MMA middleweight, says he is having a good time teaching Pinoy mixed martial artists the things he learned through the years working with some of the world’s best fighters in Alliance. For him, learning is a two-way street and it helps him reassess himself as a fighter.

He hopes that a branch of Alliance MMA gym would one day materialize in the country. Vera, the founder of Alliance, has expressed his desire to bring the stable here to help Pinoy fighters develop to their full potential.

“Being in the gym teaching and training with the guys makes me review and drill techniques that I believe in enough to share. My experience from the fight life has been a roller coaster of a learning lesson.”

He adds, “I have lost my way a number of times but always get back to what’s important. Learning from and training with some of the best dudes in the world has given me priceless knowledge and experience. I’m excited to share it in the Philippines.”

“I’m pumped to really be a part of the fight community in the Philippines. Whether that is training at every gym or just one. I am more than ready to fly the Alliance Training Center flag here, whenever that opportunity comes.”


Igor Subora set to return in ONE FC as a light heavyweight
LOOK: Igor Subora trains with Brandon Vera, Mark Striegl, and AJ Matthews

Mike Miguel

If there’s anything MMA related going down in the Philippines, Mike would know about it. With a knack for photography and social media, Mike never misses a beat.
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