While it may seem like a stretch to call a man missing the bottom half of his left leg “ three-legged”, Matt Betzold recently told MMA Sentinel that’s what he likes to go by. And after seeing the picture he shared with Bloody Elbow, it was hard to disagree.

The Arizona-native flyweight is set to have the first match of his multi-fight contract at Legacy FC 39 on February 27th. Betzold has had a successful MMA career thus far, against all odds.

At only 6 years old, Matt Betzold ate a poisoned candy that had been intended for his father. An enemy of Matt’s father had taken advantage of his generosity, lodging in their home to make the attempt on his life. Matt went into a deep coma and when he awoke his leg was gangrenous and had to be removed.

Growing up with a prosthetic limb would be difficult for any child. For Betzold, it resulted in a chip on his shoulder and a love for attacking limbs.

This has been the secret to Matt Betzold’s success. Just over a month ago, he was named USA Wrestling Athlete of the Week following his 4-1 victory over Ukrainian opponent Nykonets to claim the gold medal at the UWW Pankration World Champions on October 14, 2014. This is his fifth World Grappling medal – but his first gold.

The first time I heard about Matt Betzold I asked what anyone would ask – how does he fight? There was no way a commission would clear a prosthetic limb. So, to sate my curiosity, I looked up one of his fights and found myself watching all the Matt Betzold videos I could get my hands on.

He fights from his knees in what almost looks like a normal fight stance. He has good movement and can evade strikes, although he is not much of a striker himself. Being so low to the ground he is always set up for takedowns, and it doesn’t usually take him long to wrestle his opponents to the ground.

Another benefit to fighting from his knees is that Matt’s opponents are prohibited from kicking or kneeing him to the head for as long as he stays there.

Matt Betzold is riding a four-fight win streak going into his Legacy FC debut, and they are all by submission. His smothering ground and pound serves to soften up opponents before he submits them.

The biggest problem Matt’s missing limb has given him in the sport is his ability to find fights. His state’s amateur commission refused to clear him, even though by their standards he should have been eligible to fight. So he took an unsanctioned fight and showed the video to the commission, who had no choice but to grant him a license. He racked up a 4-1 record as an amateur.

Faced with the same difficulties with getting cleared when turning professional, Betzold sought the help of a lawyer who informed him it was a clear discrimination case. Finally cleared, he made his professional MMA debut in November of 2009.

But the troubles didn’t end there. Betzold quickly began to realize that people were afraid to fight a one-legged fighter. Don Royer of US Elite Management explains:

“I remember Matt was calling out one of my fighters,” said Royer. “The guy told me, ‘Don, I’m not going to fight him because there’s nothing for me to gain by fighting him.’ I kind of told Matt that. What I tried to explain to him was, the way most fighters look at it, if Matt beats them, they think their careers are over. But if they beat Matt, it’s not a big deal because they just beat a guy with one leg.”

Matt’s solution? “Basically, I just talk shit,” he tells MMA Junkie. “I call them out on their bullshit, and I don’t let them get away with it.”

Although his record may not seem like much, I think Betzold could really shake things up in the Legacy FC flyweight division. His last four fights have been nothing short of impressive, finishing all but one opponent in under two minutes, with his longest fight ending halfway through the second round.

He sticks to his opponents like Velcro on the ground, smothering them until they submit to his will. He fights in a relentless style that is indicative of his wrestling history.

Finally signed to a larger fight promotion, Matt Betzold may have a better chance of finding reliable opponents. And with plenty of time before Legacy FC 39, I’m confident they will find him an opponent.

“They can’t dodge me forever,” Betzold says. “I’m coming for their heads.”

About The Author

Quincy Mutter
Staff Writer

Quincy Mutter is a combat sports junkie and amateur mixed martial artist out of Niagara, Ontario. She fell in love with MMA while watching Demian Maia fight when she was 12 years old, and began training at 15. In addition to writing for The MMA Corner, Quincy is an administrator for the MMA Daily Facebook page and runs several of her own blogs.