Matt Frevola had to work hard for his first UFC win.
The 28-year-old lightweight’s previous two fights for the promotion ended in a first-round KO loss and a majority draw. On Saturday at UFC 236 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Frevola (6-1-1) left it all on the canvas and was rewarded with a trio of 30-27 scores and a unanimous decision nod over Jalin Turner (1-2).
Turner, the youngest fighter on the card at 23 years old, had a noticeable size advantage over Frevola, but for 15 minutes Frevola was able to mix up timely takedowns and power punches to sweep the scorecards.
“That’s the tallest guy [I’ve ever fought in my career]. He was definitely rangy, he was timing that knee well, but I did what I needed to do to win, so I’ll take it,” Frevola said post-fight.
The first round was an entertaining one as Frevola made it clear that he didn’t plan to play around with the rangy Turner. Driving through straight punches and low kicks, Frevola was able to get low and take Turner to the mat where he threatened with chokes. Turner worked hard to shake him off, but Frevola skillfully stayed with him and looked to do work from side control, back control, and mount. Time and time again, Turner was able to stay calm and slip out.
Frevola almost had a deep guillotine from the mount, only to have Turner get both feet on the cage and kick off of it to escape.
In the second, Turner was able to stuff Frevola’s takedowns, which seemed to tire Frevola. However, Frevola was finding success with hooks over the top against the taller fighter and Turner wasn’t able to make the most of his reach advantage. Frevola went for a takedown off of a knee and almost got caught with a guillotine before popping his head out. He pressed forward to end the round in top position, but the effort was almost overshadowed by an illegal upkick just before the buzzer that referee Marc Goddard ruled to be “innocuous.”
Turner appeared to be mostly unaffected by the upkick that grazed his eye and attempted to walk Frevola down round three. But Frevola met him blow-for-blow, and later shot in to take him down and avoided a triangle attempt to eventually end up in side control. Turner was able to get it back to the feet and do some damage in the last 90 seconds, but it didn’t look like it was enough to make a significant mark on the scorecards.