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Baker gets big MMA break, readies for 'huge' fight
Matt (The Riotmaker) Baker will be looking to raise hell in the biggest fight of his career thus far, a World Series of Fighting (WSOF) tilt at the PNE Agrodome in Vancouver on Dec. 7.
“This is my first big break,” said Baker, who recently signed on with WSOF, widely considered the third-best mixed-martial-arts promotion in North America, behind Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Bellator.
“It’s a huge fight, especially if I get on the NBC portion, the main card, if let’s say I have the knockout of the night and put on a good show. It’s only up from there.”
The Las Vegas-based WSOF recently bought one of the fastest growing Canadian MMA promotions — Aggression Fighting Championship — as part of its effort to establish branches in Japan, Central America, Brazil, China, the United Kingdom, Mexico and the Great White North.
As Baker alluded to, NBC Sports Network owns the WSOF television rights and the upcoming Vancouver fight night — headlined by former UFC light-heavyweights Anthony (Rumble) Johnson (15-4) and Mike (MAK) Kyle (20-10-1) — will be aired live.
The Riotmaker will be on the undercard chucking knuckles with a yet-to-be-named opponent — the tilt is not expected to be televised in its entirety, but Baker can earn valuable air time with a flashy knockout or submission, or by claiming fight-of-the-night honours.
“It’s all about marketing and how you market yourself,” said Baker, who boasts a 10-4 record.
“I’ve got as many people that hate me as they do like me. I work hard at that.”
Baker was not able to disclose how much money he stands to rake in with a win, but KTW learned it would likely be somewhere in the $10,000 range.
“As far as Canadians who fight outside of the UFC, I’m doing pretty good,” said Baker, a born-and-bred Kamloopsian.
The 29-year-old Sa-Hali secondary graduate is the only Canadian member of Team Nogueira Rio, a stable of fighters that includes some of the UFC’s biggest names.
Baker has been to Brazil five times in the past three years, training with the likes of Anderson Silva and Junior dos Santos.
Due to his involvement in a barfight in 2002, Baker was not allowed to try out for the UFC’s long-running reality series, The Ultimate Fighter, eliminating one potential route to MMA’s biggest stage.
Luckily for Baker, WSOF Canada’s chief operating officer Darren Owen has had an eye on the Kamloops product and was quick to acquire him for the Vancouver event.
“He just came up to me and said they wanted exciting Canadian fighters and they’ve wanted me for a while,” said Baker, a stand-up fighter who makes no bones about his preference for knockouts over submissions.
“I went to Brazil to learn jiujitsu because it was my only weakness but, for some reason, in my fights I don’t like to use it. I like to fight.”
The Suncor employee recently bought a house in the Tournament Capital with his fiancé.
Without Suncor, fighting three times a year would not be enough to make ends meet financially on his current prize-purse scale, but there is no telling what one big knockout on national television could do for his career.
His coach, Bibiano Fernandes, is slated to fight for the ONE FC bantamweight title in Singapore on Friday, Oct. 18. Baker will be in his corner for the showdown. The winner will walk away with about $300,000.
If Baker can reach those heights, he’ll have that house paid off in no time.
“This fight is very huge,” Baker said.
“World Series of Fighting is the highest stage any Kamloops fighter has reached.”
Baker operates Mata-Leao MMA and Fitness in Kamloops.
He has about 30 students who train with him in Heavy Metal Gym (145 Briar Ave.).
Mata-Leao will likely soon be moving to a new home on Tranquille Road.
For more information, call 778-220-7001.