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Jake Matthews admits there's pressure to perform at UFC Fight Night 121

SYDNEY – Sometimes, a change of scenery can be just what the doctor ordered. Jake Matthews is hoping that’s the case with his move back up to welterweight this weekend.

Matthews (10-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) returns to 170 pounds after fighting his first seven UFC bouts at lightweight when he meets Bojan Velickovic (15-5-1 MMA, 2-2-1 UFC) on the UFC Fight Night 121 main card.

UFC Fight Night 121 takes place Sunday (but airs live on Saturday in North America due to the time difference) at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney. It airs on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass.

The move for Matthews comes on the heels of back-to-back lightweight losses in 2016 to Kevin Lee, who recently fought for an interim 155-pound title, and Andrew Holbrook. The latter fight came by split decision nearly a year ago, and Matthews hasn’t seen action since. He was the heaviest favorite on the card against Holbrook at UFC Fight Night 101 in New Zealand.

In his return, he’s hoping to give a glimpse of the potential that was pegged on him when he debuted in the promotion as a 19-year-old Australian in 2014.

“I know it’s a must-win fight, but that’s not adding to the pressure at all,” Matthews told MMAjunkie at a media day in support of UFC-Sydney. “I expect myself to go in there and win the fight, anyway. I’m just going to go in there and this time, do what I normally do when we’re sparring and training and just not hold back – still be smart, still be patient where I need to be, but just have that aggressiveness that I used to have back in the day.”

Back in the day, Matthews started out 8-0, including consecutive submission wins over Dashon Johnson and Vagner Rocha to open his UFC tenure. After a submission loss to James Vick, he stopped Akbarh Arreola with a TKO at UFC 193, then got a “Fight of the Night” bonus for his submission win over Johnny Case, which moved him to 4-1 in the promotion with four stoppages.

But it’s been a struggle since then, and one he thinks he could’ve avoided. He blames himself for both losses, saying he didn’t give all he could have given.

“I could’ve dug deeper and tried to push and really win those fights,” Matthews said. “And it does make me hungry. I want to go in there and show everyone what my skill set is, what my potential is, and show that I could’ve won those last two fights. And even though Kevin is a top contender now, I could’ve won that fight.

“But if I win this fight, I’ll be right back up there with guys like Darren Till and hopefully get a bigger fight and keep moving up.”

For more from Matthews, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 121, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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