Matt Fiordirosa. Photo courtesy of Wrecking Ball Fight Facility.
Everyone remembers “Sunshine”, right? You know, Matt Fiordirosa, the blond-haired kid that was constantly smiling, ventured on a semi cross-country trip with the TapouT crew on their reality show last season and ended up winning a fight outdoors in New Jersey (video here, a highlight here.) with Jeff Curran in his corner. Whatever happened to him? He was right on the doorstep of being one of the top, young featherweights in the game.
Guess what? We found him.
After almost a year away from the sport, Fiordirosa is just now getting back to training. A standout wrestler in high school, Fiordirosa owns wins over some pretty notable guys - HDNet Fights veteran Tristan Yunker and former WEC bantamweight champion Chase Beebe among them. We were lucky enough to have a chance to talk to Matt, who touched a number of things including the reasoning behind his hiatus, his increase in popularity following the show, and where he’s currently training at these days.
MMA on Tap: Let’s start off with an easy one. Where the hell have you been Matt?
Fiordirosa: Haha, I took a year off completely from training. I had a lot of personal stuff to take care of. I ran out of money, had a really stupid desk job that I thought was the mature thing to do at the time but I ended up hating it. That’s when I decided that I needed to start training again and that’s where I’m at now.
MMA on Tap: When can we expect you back in action?
Fiordirosa: Not anytime soon, that’s for sure. I’m really out of shape to be honest, but I’m doing everything I can to get back to where I was before so I can hopefully fight again. I want to have fun training, learning, and enjoying the sport again before I just jump back into it.
MMA on Tap: So you beat Khristian Geraci on the TapouT episode and then won two more fights after that before going on your break. Did being featured on the show increase your exposure at all?
Fiordirosa: Being on the show definitely increased my exposure in the sport. I had people coming from out of state to train at my wrestling academy and talk to me, it was crazy. Not to mention a lot of random “SSUUUNNSHINE!!” screams, haha.
MMA on Tap: Did you end up receiving any offers from major organizations?
Fiordirosa: I never had any major shows contact me that I know of. Like I said before, I had a lot of personal stuff going on that forced me to take a step away from the MMA scene. They might have talked to Jeff [Curran], but I had to take care things so I think it was probably easier for me to just avoid the offers if there were any at that point.
MMA on Tap: Anything else happen after the show?
Fiordirosa: Well I basically had six straight months of personal bad luck. The worst thing that happened involved the two dogs that everyone saw on the episode. They ended up being shot and killed by the county police actually.
MMA on Tap: Really? Sorry to hear that man. That had to be tough.
Fiordirosa: It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with. They snuck out of our fence one night and started running around the neighborhood. The cops shot them on the spot for showing “signs of aggression” so they say. It’s bullshit because both of the dogs were human and animal friendly. Had they been any other breed besides pitbulls they probably would have been brought back to my house.
MMA on Tap: You said that you started training again…Are you still with Curran’s camp?
Fiordirosa: I have started training again, however I’m not with Jeff anymore. I have a commitment to work with my Dad and I don’t really have the time anymore to traveling to akk the way to Crystal Lake to train.
MMA on Tap: Has Jeff reacted towards that decision at all?
Fiordirosa: Well, there’s no bad blood between us. Obviously he was going to be a little bit upset, but I think he understands the situation. Besides, with his new monster facility opening up, I don’t think he’s losing any sleep over where I’m training at these days.
MMA on Tap: So where are you training at now?
Fiordirosa: I’m training out of a gym in Grayslake, Illinois called Wrecking Ball Fight Facility. That’s working out well for me because they mainly focus on Muay Thai and it’s nice to learn that side of the sport. I think it’s no secret that my stand-up could use a little fine tuning. Right now it’s just been a matter of getting back in the swing of things, having fun with the training, and learning to improve my game. I think when you get caught up in your fight career too much you lose the fun and learning aspect of the sport. That’s where I’m trying to get back to.
MMA on Tap would like to thank Matt for taking his time out to do this interview. Special thanks also go out to David Singer, Jamie Fitzgerald, Martin Alexander, Bill Reger, and Leonardo DiCaprio.