Anytime outside circumstances force a fighter from an upcoming bout, it brings a great deal of disappointment to both that fighter and his opponent. The fighter forced to withdraw gets sidelined, usually due to injuries that relate to the withdrawal, and finds themselves unable to even train properly for any number of weeks as they recover. Their foe, in contrast, hopes to find a new foe in order to remain on the card, but when nobody can answer the call, that leaves the unscathed fighter off the card waiting rather hungrily for their moment to fight again.

Matt Cox is all too familiar with getting scratched from the card without even getting injured. Though he holds three pro wins in three pro fights, Cox has been booked to fight five times in total. Twice, though, the fights for which Cox was booked felt through.

“The last one got canceled after making weight and everything,” Cox told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview. “They postponed it a week later, but there was no way I was going to make weight again a week later or 13 days later, so I had to step back from that one.”

The first time Cox had a bout scrapped, the Colorado-based prospect planned on seeing Travis Peak at Kickdown 100 back in 2012. When that fight fell through, Cox did not return to action until late January of this year, almost one year removed from his second pro bout, when he made a successful debut for Sparta Combat League with a win over Michael Mathews. Cox then planned on fighting Dequan Townsend in September, but that bout underwent the same fate as Cox’s scheduled fight with Peak.

Cox (Dan Kuhl/The MMA Corner)

Cox (Dan Kuhl/The MMA Corner)

“It’s unfortunate that it happened,” Cox said. “But I’ve been staying active. I’ve been training, I’m looking to make a comeback now, and I’m ready to fight.”

All roads lead Cox back into Sparta Combat League, where he co-headlines the promotion’s “Monarchs of Sparta” card this weekend in the hopes of taking home welterweight gold. The man standing between Cox and the Sparta welterweight championship is Rocky Johnson. Johnson may resonate in the minds of fans because he owns the honor of having handed former WEC and UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson his first pro loss. Cox knows he must expect a difficult fight from the “Rock Monster.”

“I’m feeling great [about the match-up],” Cox said, “I know he’s very well-rounded in his overall skill set, and it’s going to be a war.”

Few will find it shocking if the bout turns into an intense affair filled with its share of exchanges on the ground. Though Johnson does own the brunt of his losses by submission, he also owns most of his wins via submission, in addition to owning three victories by some form of knockout. Couple that with Cox’s confidence in his ground game, and things hold potential to heat up quickly.

“I see us throwing some heavy shots, landing combinations, and going in for takedowns. He will try to take me down, control the match and grind it out,” Cox predicted.

Most guys might worry about getting taken down and controlled by the likes of Johnson, and while those fighters may work to avoid ever going to the ground, they eventually go down nonetheless. What makes Cox different as he prepares for a man whose resume features talent ranging from Henderson to the likes of Leonard Garcia? Could it be his takedown defense?.

“We’ve been working on that a lot,” Cox said. “I’ve been taken down a lot, and I’ve worked on defending the takedowns a lot, so I am very comfortable with that.”

Cox (Dan Kuhl/The MMA Corner)

Cox (Dan Kuhl/The MMA Corner)

Part of the confidence Cox exudes comes from his time at the UFC Gym in Westminster, Colo., where the caliber of coaches that help him train on a daily basis make this prospect into the man he has become in such a short time.

“Serial Boxe Fight Team is a Duane ‘Bang’ Ludwig affiliate and Muay Thai system,” Cox explained. “We have Ben Schissler, Diana Rael, Steve Paprocki and Dominic Valenzuela [as coaches]. We have a lot of people there.”

Though the team remains as a Muay Thai affiliate to Ludwig, “Bang” does not serve as a coach to the team. It’s more of a franchise than anything else. Furthermore, the team goes beyond just honing Cox’s striking skills.

“We do straight MMA training,” Cox explained. “So, we work on various styles, including jiu-jitsu, judo and Muay Thai.”

That mixed bag will come in handy when Cox fights Johnson. Barring any injuries, Cox hopes to land more fights in the months to come. Given that the fight with Johnson will come just short of 11 months since his encounter with Mathews, it comes as no surprise that Cox wants to return to action as soon as possible after his fight on Saturday in Denver.

“I want to fight immediately. Last time I fought, I came back after a year. I hope to fight at least five fights next year and see where it goes, barring any injuries or fights canceled. I’ve wanted to do this since I was a kid, and I’m a motivated kid. I want people to know this is something I love. I’ll be in shape, I’m ready to face off against a respectable gentleman, and I hope to keep fighting competitors at a higher level.”

Matt would like to thank Ben Schissler, Diana Rael, Steve Paprocki and Dominic Valenzuela, as well as his training partners and teammates at Serial Boxe Fight Team, and his sponsors for supporting him in the weeks leading up to this bout.

Top Photo: Matt Cox (Dan Kuhl/The MMA Corner)