Michael Morales Stays Undefeated, Bests Jake Matthews at UFC Vegas 82

Michael Morales and Jake Matthews, UFC Vegas 82
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 18: (R-L) Michael Morales of Ecuador punches Jake Matthews of Australia in a welterweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on November 18, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Australia’s Jake Matthews, once the youngest fighter in the UFC following his TUF Nations stint, entered the UFC Vegas 82 co-main event a veteran of the company. Paired up with Michael Morales in a promising welterweight scrap, Matthews was looking to land himself a ranked opponent with a big performance.

Early on in the UFC Vegas 82 co-feature, it was Matthews holding center, but soon enough Morales pressed back, both men ready to strike at a moment’s notice. It was single strikes through the first 90 seconds or so, with plenty of feints mixed in. Matthews slipped, but quickly returned to his feet, averting possible disaster. Moments later, however, a powerful Morales punch pushed Matthews back; while Matthews landed as well, there was a clear differential in power.

As the opening round wore on, Matthews played the counter game, though more often than not he hit air, not Michael Morales. However, “The Celtic Kid” did hit the mark at least once; Morales, meanwhile, fired an explosive jump knee and always seemed ready to finish the fight.

Morales went on the attack about a minute into the second round, firing uppercuts and straight punches, forcing Matthews to cover up and retreat. Matthews regrouped, and began pushing forward again, firing a 1-2, circling, and looking for a way inside only to eat a leg kick or two. The second frame was a back-and-forth affair with both men landing, hard shots at that, though neither came close to finishing the fight.

What had been a very lively affair was still up for grabs as round three arrived, but the wind came out of the sails — specifically Morales’ sail — when Matthews connected low with a kick in the opening minute. Morales was given a time out to recover, but took only 30 seconds of the allotted five minutes.

Back in action, Morales kicked the leg of a charging Matthews. The pair continued to trade, with Morales occasionally finding an opening to land an uppercut. Late in the round, he ducked in on a takedown attempt, which Matthews stuffed. They ended up swinging to the final bell in a hard-hitting scrap, with Michael Morales earning the nod on the scorecards. He improved to 16-0 with the win.

Official Result: Michael Morales def. Jake Matthews by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)