CHICAGO, Ill. (February 9, 2010) – Matt Major, the colorful and sometimes-controversial mixed martial artist known for his appearance on the TapouT reality show and his upset victory over UFC veteran Shonie Carter, has signed on to compete in Bellator Fighting Championships’ upcoming Season 2 middleweight tournament.
The 26-year-old Major—who moonlights as a fashion designer—boasts a professional record of 6-1, but says that his “actual record is closer to 20-1 when you include all the fights I’ve taken in clubs and in bars and in people’s basements.” He drew big buzz throughout the MMA world with his 2008 win over Carter in a fight that Sherdog.com described by noting that Major “outclassed a man with 14 times as many professional fights” under his belt.
“Matt has a unique and bigger-than-life persona, but below the personality is a 185 pounder who can really fight,” said Bellator founder and CEO Bjorn Rebney. “If Matt focuses on our upcoming tournament, he’s a very dangerous draw for anyone at 185.”
Major says winning the Season 2 tournament and the chance for a title fight against Lombard is his singular goal now that he has signed with Bellator.
“The real question is: ‘Is Hector Lombard ready for Matt Major?’” Major said. “I’ll tell you right now, if Hector Lombard knows I’m in the tournament, I know he’s worried about it. I want to be a world champion more than anything and I don’t care who I have to fight or what I have to do to get there.”
Before that, though, Major will have to get through three fights in Bellator’s eight-man Season 2 middleweight tournament. Other tournament competitors announced thus far include Eric Schambari and Bryan “The Beast” Baker. Bellator will also conduct tournaments at 145, 155, and 170 lbs. The winners in each division will be declared No. 1 contenders to the current roster of champions. All 24 fights in Seasons 2 and 3 will be televised on FOX Sports Net, NBC and Telemundo.
Major says he has been “fascinated” by the fight game and martial arts “pretty much since the day I was born.”
“All I ever wanted to do was be the next Jean Claude Van Damme, the next Steven Segal, the next Bruce Lee,” he said. “And now I’m better than all of them. I knew since I was a little kid that I was going to be a great fighter.”
Major was born in Miami, but moved to New Jersey at the age of 8 to live with an aunt after both his mother and father passed away. In high school, he passed up the chance to compete on the school wrestling team, instead opting to take classes in fashion design and merchandising at the local community college. Later, he was accepted at the Art Institute of New York. He studied there and at several other art schools before switching his attention to MMA full-time in his early 20s.
“I’ve trained in every kind of combat you can imagine: I’ve done English boxing, American boxing, Aikido, judo, sword, wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, you name it,” he said. “If the fight ends up on the ground, someone’s gonna get tapped. If it stays standing up, someone’s gonna get hit in the mouth. It doesn’t matter to me.”
Major spent the better part of 2009 training at the famed American Kickboxing Academy is San Jose, Calif. He describes his contract with Bellator as “the biggest thing that’s ever happened to me.”
“Bellator, I think, is the new face of MMA,” he said. “It’s just a very sophisticated organization and I’m proud to be a part of it.”