MacGrath Hopeful Win Over Milko Will Land Elusive UFC Deal

Matt MacGrath hopes to add the XFFC title to go along with his ECC and Elite 1 belts (photo: Martin Blais | Aggro Photography)

Matt MacGrath hopes to add the XFFC title to go along with his ECC and Elite 1 belts (photo: Martin Blais | Aggro Photography)

We’ve all been there. That 20-something who just wants to follow their dreams and travel the world. Matt MacGrath has been there. He went to Europe in his early twenties as so many young people do. He backpacked around, saw the sights, and even called it home for a little while.

It takes an independent soul to pack up and travel half way around the world. The same kind of independent soul it takes to choose being a chef as a profession (after disliking his corrections course) or tackle a new-generation sport called mixed martial arts. How do you explain to your parents you want to partake in a sport they likely have never heard of?

A Nova Scotia native, MacGrath will head west for his next fight to fight for Xcessive Force Fighting’s Welterweight championship on April 19 in Grand Prairie, Alberta. His opponent is Jarod Milko. A young, talented judoka in his own right, Milko has used his top control and grappling skills to amass an 8-2 record.

“I never heard of Jarod Milko when I competed for 20 years in judo,” laughed MacGrath. “He must be a couple years younger than me. I trained at the Shido (Shidokan) camp for years.”

Although he has become more well-known for his jiu-jitsu as of late, MacGrath is a judoka at heart. Having competed in the sport since he was young, MacGrath has been a black belt in judo for 14 years, winning national medals before making the transition to jiu-jitsu and mixed martial arts. He lived in Montreal at the Shidokan Camp for a few years (rooming with Ultimate Fighter: Nations competitor Luke Harris), learning judo from some of the very best in the country.

“It gives me a base for sure,” said MacGrath, referring to his judo background. “I think that if you look at jiu-jitsu, you’re trying to keep posture if you’re on top. Judo gives you a head start. I consider myself more of a jiu-jitsu guy now. Judo helped me grasp the body mechanics.”

Instead of taking fights on short notice or traveling four hours for a training session, MacGrath is now choosing to be more methodical with his career. He only accepts fights which allow him to have a full eight week training camp. He is full time with the Wulfrun MMA camp, located only five minutes away from home. It provides the stability he needs to not only stay in shape before a fight, but hone in on the intricacies of an opponent.

Matt MacGrath vs Christ Franck (photo: Martin Blais | Aggro Photography)

Matt MacGrath vs Christ Franck (photo: Martin Blais | Aggro Photography)

The changes are paying off. After losing three straight fights and six of eight, MacGrath has put together four straight wins for just the second time in his career, three of which were stoppages. There is a hunger to MacGrath now that seemed to be missing before.

“I am taking full training camps,” he explained. “Taking every fight as if it’s the last one. I’d like to get a few fights on the big show there. It’s time to do or die.”

At 34, MacGrath is fully aware that it is now or never in his career. The window of opportunity to reach the elite level and get that chance in the UFC is closing fast.

“I’m taking things a lot more serious now,” he explained. “If I have to be away from my family, I gotta make it count for something.”

With the UFC coming to Halifax later this year, MacGrath is optimistic that a win over Milko will warrant that elusive call he’s been waiting for.

“I think a win over Jarod Milko with the UFC coming to Halifax on October 4, well I’d love to get on that card.”

6 Responses to “ MacGrath Hopeful Win Over Milko Will Land Elusive UFC Deal ”

  1. Thoughts says:

    Only seen MacGrath fight once or twice but hes a tuff guy for sure. He beat holst right? I saw the Franck fight which he seemed to win easy. Him and milko will be a good fight

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  2. Mike kent says:

    Incredibly tough and a incredible fighter , love to see him earn a shot in the big show

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  3. EastCoastWarrior says:

    Will always remember matts advice “don’t eat the beans”

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  4. evan blakely says:

    Matt MacGrath is a straight up beast and is a benchmark for work ethic and dedication to sport. He has only lost to the best of the best and has learned a lot in those losses. He’s a much smarter fighter now than he was – in the past he was probably too tough for his own good because he didnt have a top level team behind him. Now with Paul Abel, Jason Saggo, Morgan Rhynes, Lenny Wheeler and others he is finding another plateau in his career, hopefully he will reach the big show!

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  5. I never comment on anything on here but I just wanted to say I have noting but respect for J.Milko. It said in the article about me that I laughed when I heard he was a judo guy and I just wanted to make sure it wasn’t taken the wrong way. It was more of a chuckle and statement that I really didn’t know him after competing for so many years in that sport. That’s all. I look forward to meeting him on Saturday night in the cage and I know he will bring his best game. I look forward to it.

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  6. guess i can’t spell. -nothing but respect- lol

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