Growing up in Long Island, Matt Frevola was as far detached from the world of Mixed Martial Arts as any of the other Long Islanders. Rather, Frevola was something akin to a 'Jack of all Trades', splitting time between football, lacrosse, wrestling, and baseball. There were dalliances with combat sports here and there, but Frevola was an athlete first and then a fighter. (More MMA News)
That, however, changed when Frevola left school behind. With energy in reserve but little awareness as to which direction to take, Frevola pitched up to Matt Serra's gym one day, where he rekindled with something he had only briefly come across in his earlier days, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
"I was playing football and lacrosse in college, and once I was older, I did not know what to do with myself," says Frevola in an exclusive interview. "I had all this energy; I was still feeling great. And then I walked into Matt Serra's gym and found Brazilian Jiu Jitsu - and I fell in love with it.
"I had the wrestling background and walking into Serra's really made me fall in love with grappling against - and Jiu Jitsu"
A competent fighter in the present day, Frevola is awaiting his next bout with Frenchman Benoit Saint-Denis eagerly. The two will clash on Sunday, November 12, 2023, at UFC 295, in the Lightweight category, with the Long Island native aiming for his fourth successive triumph - and second in 2023.
Speaking about his background as a complete sportsman, he underlines his insatiable competitiveness as something he has gained by starting from a broader range in sports before narrowing down and finding his niche.
"I think everything has helped me," Frevola continues. "The competitiveness; I am a competitor, I want to win, and I want to win at everything. I am walking down the hall with my brother and I am trying to walk faster!"
Frevola, though, is more than just an athlete. Back during his college days with the University of Tampa, the MMA fighter attended the Reserve Officers' Training Corps, a program for training commissioned officers of the United States Armed Forces in colleges and univesities. He is also a lieutenant in the United States Army Reserve. He credits the program with instilling much of the discipline he follows into him, shaping him for the warrior he would go on to become.
"It was great," remembers the Long Island born-and-raised fighter. "I was doing PT with my unite every morning, so it kept me in shape. I was learning the warrior ethos and a lot of good knowledge - just dialling myself in.
"It all kinda moulded me into who I am today."
As impressive as his background is, what instantly catches the eyes and the ears with Frevola is his brilliant rolls-off-the-tongue nickname - Steamrolla. Quizzed about where it all came from, the Long Islander sets upon down the memory lane to fetch an echo from his days as an amateur fighter.
"You can't give yourself a nickname, that's not a good sign!" laughs Frevola, when asked if he came up with it himself, before continuing. "It was my dad and my uncle.
"I was an amateur and it was after my second amateur fight, and I had just 'steamrolled' the first two guys. My uncle's from Boston and has a Boston accent; he was like, 'Argh, we need a nickname, it's gotta rhyme'. And my being Frevola, 'steamrolling people, let's do Steamrolla Frevola!'
"He planted that seed and it kinda took off!"
Taking on Saint-Denis, six years his younger, Frevola looks forward to the bout the pair are set to contest on Sunday. The 33-year-old knows that the Frenchman will bring out the best in him and can't wait to get into the ring with him.
"He's very good; he's a very talented fighter," remarks Frevola. "He's a true warrior from France and I respect his skills, I am prepared for him, and I know he's a worthy opponents on the biggest stage at the most famous arena in the world, Madison Square Garden.
"He's going to bring out the best in me and I am excited to go out there and test myself against a true warrior like him." he concludes.
UFC 295: Matt Frevola fights Benoit Saint-Denis. It will be telecast live by Sony Sports Network in India, with the matches being shown on Sony Sports Ten 2, Sony Sports Ten 3 (Hindi), and Sony Sports Ten 4 (Tamil & Telugu) SD & HD channels.