UFC fighter, Mike ‘Blood Diamond’ Matheta, was tipped to be the next big UFC star to come from City Kickboxing Gym in New Zealand, but after two fights, he’s failed to impress in the UFC so far with two losses to Jeremiah Wells and Orion Cosce.
Diamond was an excellent kickboxer before his UFC. In over 100 fights, Diamond only lost one, amongst those fights winning two King of the Ring tournaments.
After his success in kickboxing, Diamond decided to change to Mixed Martial Arts after seeing the success of his friend and teammate Israel Adesanya.
After three successive wins in the indie scene, Diamond was given the big call-up to the UFC where he debuted on the prelims at UFC 271, the same event where Adesanya was able to defend his Undisputed Middleweight Title against Robert Whittaker.
In one of the most peculiar openings to a fight, Blood Diamond’s opponent, Jeremiah Wells, slipped when the fight started so Diamond ran across the cage to him in an attempt to finish the fight early, missed with a right hand so Wells was able to take him down and finish the fight with ease via a rear naked choke.
From that fight, it was clear to the world what the talented Zimbabwean needed to work on.
A few months later at UFC 277, Blood Diamond was in action at UFC 277, this time against Orion Cosce, who had missed weight by 1.5lbs. This fight was a much better showing. He was able to show glimpses of what he’s capable of on the feet and showed improvement in his grappling to keep Cosce from taking him down for long periods.
This fight was tough for Diamond as Cosce had a large amount of control, especially in round three. I had the fight 29-28 to the American and the judges agreed with Diamond only winning round two only.
Despite the devastating loss and a lot of people jumping off the hype train, I think there were a lot of positives to take from that fight. Diamond showed improved grappling in round one and his striking was a beauty to behold in round two.
I think his gas tank needs work as we could tell he was tired in round three which allowed Cosce to control him for the whole of round three.
What I’d like to say about Diamond is in the title. You can’t rush greatness. I think after his successful kickboxing career, and the success of his gym with the likes of Adesanya, Dan Hooker and Kai Kara France, it’s difficult to be put in the fire with the likes of Jeremiah Wells after only three MMA fights.
Adesanya had ten fights before joining the UFC, Hooker had nine and Kara France had 16. All were given time to learn their trade against lower opposition and given the chance to gradually rise up to the points where they are now. Diamond, however, has shown greatness in three fights against average opposition at best.
Essentially, I feel like Diamond still has great potential to be a ranked contender in the UFC but I feel like his valuable development time has been stripped away from him from being pushed too early. Yes, there are success stories in which some people are thrown into the fire and are able to survive such as Alex Pereira so far but they are rare cases.
Another thing that might strip Diamond of his success in MMA is his age. At 34, learning on the job in the UFC is a tough task and despite us having a few 40-year-old champions in recent years, they’ve been season veterans who’ve been near the top for a decade or longer.
I think the one thing he needs is time, which is the one thing he doesn’t have. I fear the UFC might cut him if he loses his next fight, which would be a shame because a lot of us know the levels he could reach.
I hope Blood Diamond is able to find success in his next fight despite the odds being against him, I think if he’s able to pick up grappling IQ, he could still be a contender in the years to come.