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Matt Schnell knew UFC job was at stake in 'loser-leaves-town' match at UFC 216

LAS VEGAS – After losing his first two UFC fights, Matt Schnell had no doubt in his mind his spot on the roster was at stake at UFC 216. Fortunately, the fight with Marco Beltran went his way.

“This was a loser leaves town match,” Schnell told reporters after his win. “I don’t think that was a secret to anybody. Hat’s off to Marco – he’s a tough kid; I’m sure he’ll be OK. But I had no doubt if I lost this fight I would be on the chopping block.”

Schnell (10-4 MMA, 1-2 UFC) beat Beltran (8-5 MMA, 3-3 UFC) by unanimous decision in their flyweight bout on the UFC 216 undercard, which took place Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with the main card on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and UFC Fight Pass.

After a stint on “The Ultimate Fighter 24,” Schnell suffered two losses to kick off his official career in the UFC. He couldn’t pinpoint exactly why things were going his way, but knew he needed to deliver a “safe” performance and get the win at UFC 216. That’s essentially what happened, because he outworked Beltran over the course of three rounds.

“I always prepare to be the winner on the night of these fights,” Schnell said. “I can’t speak as to what’s happened in the past; I give maximum effort and I try my best and that’s all I can do. But I belong here in the UFC. I think I’m one of the best flyweights in the world and it’s just a matter of continuing to get comfortable and continuing to get better.”

Although the low moments and losses were a struggle to get through, Schnell believes he rightly came out the end as a better fighter. He said he learned a loss from the challenging experiences, but pointed to his strong support system as an aid to help him through the rough patch.

“As someone who holds himself at a high standard it’s difficult to take those lumps, but this is the sport and this is the game,” Schnell said. “You’ve got to convince yourself. I’ve surrounded myself with great people and my coaches, my friends, my family – they believe in me. I’m not doing this to prove anybody wrong, I’m doing this to prove somebody right.”

With some momentum and confidence back on his side, Schnell said he hopes to start new going forward. He said he regards himself as one of the top 125-pound fighters in the world, and he intends to prove as much in his future performances.

“This is my 30th fight: 15 professional fights, 13 amateur fights, two fights on ‘The Ultimate Fighter,'” Schnell said. “I know it’s cliche, but I think we’re just scratching the surface here.”

For complete coverage of UFC 216, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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