Matt Schnell Explains How He Avoided Tyson Nam’s KO Power at UFC on ESPN 20

By: Tristen Critchfield
Jan 20, 2021

In Matt Schnell’s mind, his split-decision victory over Tyson Nam at UFC on ESPN 20 wasn’t even that close.

“I felt like I was in control,” Schnell said. “It would have hurt my feelings if they named Tyson the winner. This game is like that sometimes. It would have hurt, but I would have been OK. I won that fight, though.”

Schnell rebounded from a knockout loss to Alexandre Pantoja in December 2019 thanks to crisp striking and movement. He knew that Nam, who was coming off back-to-back KO/TKO victories, would be headhunting throughout their flyweight bout. To his credit, Schnell was able to avoid any devastating blows from his opponent.

“I was doing subtle things to keep him from lining me up and squaring me up with a good one. Most of the ones that hit me didn’t land clean,” Schnell said. “Most of them were skimming off me. He wasn’t quite able to line me up, but the young man’s got some thump—no doubt about it. You can’t take it away from him. He was definitely bringing it.

“I was trying to stay offline so I don’t eat the brunt of his right hand, so he can’t turn his hip over on me,” Schnell continued. “I was delivering good shots, too. I had him stepping in potholes a couple times. It’s been over a year since I’ve been in there. I felt fine, but I’m going to amass some momentum. I’m a serious guy in this division.”

Nam entered UFC on ESPN 20 as the prohibitive favorite — and Schnell believes that was for good reason. However, “Danger” may have been overlooked simply on the basis of his last appearance.

“Tyson had all the momentum coming into this thing. Ask the pundits who they were picking. They were all picking Tyson Nam,” Schnell said. “You can’t blame them because you’re only as good as your last fight. I took an ‘L’ in my last fight and Tyson’s been cleaning dudes’ clocks. I get it, but I’m telling you I’m one of the best in the world. With 15 focused minutes, I can beat any man on two legs.”

With five victories in his last six Octagon appearances, Schnell is very much a player in the UFC’s flyweight division.

“I’m interested in fun fights,” he said. “I knew Tyson Nam would be a fun fight. I played it pretty conservative tonight, tried to stay on my jab and just outwork him. There are some exciting matchups out there.”

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