Matt Frevola is ready to put on a show in front of his home crowd.
The UFC lightweight from Huntington is the featured early prelim fight of UFC 281 at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, Nov. 12. He’ll be fighting on what some have called the “UFC card of the year,” which is headlined by Israel Adesanya who looks to defend his Middleweight title against old kickboxing rival Alex Pereira.
The “SteamRolla,” who is 9-3-1 in pro MMA and 3-3-1 in the UFC, will be taking on Ottman Azaitar (13-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC). The bout will be available to watch on ESPN+.
For both 32 years olds, this fight has been in the works for two years. The two were initially suppose to fight at UFC 257 but Azaitar withdrew last minute after breaking COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
Azaitar has been inactive since and was released by the UFC in January 2021. A month later, he was brought back by the fight promotion company. Frevola has fought three fights since then, going 1-2.
Frevola faced two consecutive losses. The first was a catchweight fight against Arman Tsarukya, the current No. 9 ranked in the division, in the card he was suppose to face Azaitar. The other, Frevola was on the wrong side of a record-breaking, seven-second TKO against Terrance McKinney.
That losing streak is over.
The Long Islander is coming off his biggest UFC win of his career, getting a first-round TKO finish of Genaro Valdéz in January at UFC 270. Watch the finish below:
In the fight, Frevola showed what he was capable of. He earned a UFC record-tying four knockdowns in the first round.
Frevola — a Harborfields High School alum — said he went back to his gym to get his mind and body right after the losing streak. He’s mentored by legendary UFC coach Ray Longo at Longo-Weidman Mixed Martial Arts in Garden City — the same place that current UFC Bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling trains.
“Your losses don’t define you,” Frevola recently told Newsday’s Mark La Monica. “After [the McKinney loss], it was tough. But I got back to it.”
His first-round victory over Valdéz got SteamRolla a new contract in the UFC. He told sports website The AllStar he wasn’t too happy with his new deal.
“The deal is still not what I deserve in my opinion, but we got the [Madison Square Garden] fight and I gotta just go out there and do what I do; and then, you know eventually, I’ll get what I deserve,” he said.
The last time he fought at The Garden was in 2018 against Lando Vannata. The fight ended in a majority draw.
“[Fighting at] MSG was always a dream of mine and being able to fight there in my second fight with the UFC was surreal,” he told greaterlongisland.com.
He expects a much different outcome for his second fight at the World’s Most Famous Arena.
“I’m not going to leave it in the judges hands,” he said.
UFC 281 fight card, betting odds
Odds from Caesars Sportsbook
- Israel Adesanya (c) -220 vs. Alex Pereira +180, middleweight championship
- Weili Zhang -360 vs. Carla Esparza (c) +280, women’s strawweight championship
- Dustin Poirier -230 vs. Michael Chandler +190, lightweight
- Chris Gutierrez -230 vs. Frankie Edgar +190, bantamweight
- Dan Hooker -150 vs. Claudio Puelles +125, lightweight
- Renato Moicano -125 vs. Brad Riddell +105, lightweight
- Dominick Reyes -220 vs. Ryan Spann +180, light heavyweight
- Erin Blanchfield -400 vs. Molly McCann +310, women’s flyweight
- Andre Petroski -200 vs. Wellington Turman +170, middleweight
- Ottman Azaitar -155 vs. Matt Frevola +130, lightweight
- Silvana Gomez Juarez -120 vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz +100, women’s strawweight
- Choi Seung-woo -180 vs. Michael Trizano +155, featherweight
- Montel Jackson -210 vs. Julio Arce +175, bantamweight
- Carlos Ulberg -130 vs. Nicolae Negumereanu +110, light heavyweight
Top: Matt Frevola reacts after lightweight mixed martial arts bout against Lando Vannata at UFC 230, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)