Local Fighters

Matt “Sunshine” Fiordirosa Will Return Next Spring

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Matt "Sunshine" Fiordirosa XFO 53

by Matt Lo Cascio

Go ahead — call it a comeback. Matt “Sunshine” Fiordirosa has blown through two opponents in just over two months and he’s decided to keep fighting.  The new plan: ride this career resurgence as far as he can.

“I wasn’t planning on being in this position back in May when I decided to take just one fight,” Fiordirosa told Chicago’s MMA. “After winning the first one there was a lot of talk that I needed to win one more to be considered by a larger show. I figured that I was already in shape and had done the hard part of getting back in shape, so I should at least consider it. I feel like I owe it to myself to at least see what happens.”

XFO 53: Fiordirosa vs. Muniz - Tomba Images

Fiordirosa batters Dyllon Muniz at XFO 53 (Tomba Images/XFO)

This time, in the second act of Fiordirosa’s MMA career, pursuit of the dream comes solely on his terms. He won’t be dropping everything and running to the gym for two-a-days. His other career as a teacher and the head coach for varsity wrestling at Lake Forest High School will continue to come first.

“After talking to the principal at my school and him allowing me to follow this path if I wanted, I decided that I should fight the second fight and see what kind of doors it opens. I will not be walking away from my teaching career, I like it way too much to do that, but I’ve invested a lot into this sport in the past and would love to see if I could compete at the next level. The best part about all of this is that I don’t need this like I have in the past, I’m doing this because it’s something that I enjoy and I’m having fun doing it. If something works out, great! That would be a dream come true. If not, no worries — I still have a job and career that I love. I’m just going to try and ride this wave while I can!”

That’s great news for fight fans, especially here in Chicago. Fiordirosa has dominated the first two fights of his return, finishing Matthew Yeary at XFO 52, then following that up with a TKO victory over Dyllon Muniz at XFO 53.

Talk around the cage after XFO 53 was that the honeymoon portion of his comeback is complete. Fiordirosa is back, in great shape and more skilled than Sunshine 1.0. For the third fight, people are hoping to see him take on a “name,” whether that’s locally here at an XFO show or even in a big show like the UFC. So what — and who — is next?

“I really don’t have any desire to fight anybody locally. I was sick of doing that before and definitely don’t care to do it now. For the most part, I’ve trained with a lot of people in the area with the mindset that we want to go beat up people from other areas and show what the Midwest is all about. I’m 100% done fighting for the year. Wrestling season begins soon and it’s not fair to the kids that I coach to not give them my full attention. I’m trying to build a program and that would be a set back. I do plan on being on the mat a little more this year with the intention of fighting again in the spring.”

Where Fiordirosa will fight next is subject to a slew of variables. But Clay Guida was in his corner again at XFO 53. Does he talk with him about taking this to the next level? Would Clay tell Joe Silva or Sean Shelby that he has a guy that should be fighting in the UFC?

“Clay’s been a huge reason for my involvement and success in MMA, as well as a great role model to me. I haven’t really talked to Clay about the UFC stuff because we’ve just been taking it one step at a time and really just trying to enjoy this journey as it unfolds. I will say that knowing Clay and the type of person that he is that he would probably do anything he could to help me become successful. I’ve been around this sport for a while and have met some pretty influential people, I’m sure through their networks that some interesting doors can be opened.”

If the call came tomorrow, you get the feeling Fiordirosa would be completely confident about taking any fight, anywhere. Asked to assess his game after his two comeback fights, he seems astutely aware of where he’s at, how he’s different than before and what he will need to work on going forward.

“I’ve become a lot more comfortable on my feet with striking. Usually my wrestling instincts take over, but during sparring sessions I feel more comfortable then ever. I’ve spent a lot of time sparring, working on defense, and throwing punches to kicks. Lately, I haven’t been training on the ground or wrestling too much. I honestly feel a little more comfortable on my feet than I do on the mat lately and if you’ve ever watched my fights, that would be a surprise to you,” Fiordirosa laughs.

“But if something bigger were to come of all of this, then I would say that I need to get back to my roots and focus on my wrestling and grappling skills a little more. My body frame has changed over the past four years and I feel stronger than ever at 145. My cardio has always been on point but if anything it is a little better than before because I don’t waste so much energy over stress. I feel like I find my time to recover during fights which I never did before. My experience has taught me how to attack under control. The way I train is shorter and more to the point than before. The biggest difference in these past two fights has been my state of mind. Fighting for fun with very low pressure and not putting the pressure of becoming a world champ or being able to pay my bills has really helped me to enjoy this experience. I also have great people around me that want nothing but for me to be successful. I have many different sources of motivation and inspiration which continues to remind me why I even did this in the first place. My goal is to get to a big show, at least one fight, and take it from there! Continue to have fun and keep positive people around me.”

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About Matt Lo Cascio

Matt Lo Cascio is a former TV producer who turned to new media in 2005, and he is the co-founder and editor of Chicago’s MMA. He is also the play-by-play announcer for the XFO. His work has been published by ESPN.com, DraftKings, The Comeback, FanSided and more.

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