Amputee dominates MMA competition - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Amputee dominates MMA competition

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) -

Mixed martial arts, also known as MMA, is a very challenging and intense sport and one valley man is dominating the competition with just one leg.

28-year-old Matthew Betzold is a fighter who competes in several grueling MMA events like boxing, jujitsu and wrestling.

"What you say today was our rest day..really.  I know it didn't seem like it, but that's the truth," he said.

Matthew discovered he was a fighter long before he entered the gym.  At just 6-years-old, he was poisoned by a family acquaintance.  He developed blood poisoning and eventually gangrene; and doctors had to amputate his left leg to keep him alive.

"I wanted them to sew my leg back on.  I didn't understand that it was gone for good and once I realized it was gone for good, I couldn't hold back the tears and I broke down," he said.

In the coming years, Matthew says he struggled with depression, repeatedly getting into trouble.  But at 17, things started to change.  He discovered MMA and was a natural, winning his first competition.  Since then, he's focused his training on what he can do with one leg, not on what he can't.

"I believe in myself regardless of what other people may think.  I don't really listen to those people.  I use them as motivation to go."

Ultimately, Matt says MMA helped him get his life back on track.

"It changed my life..I don't even know..it's hard to say.  I know it changed my life, though it kept me off the streets, it kept me away from gangs," he said.

Matt's trains on the mats here in the gym five to six days a week, sometimes twice a day, but when he's not doing that, he's swimming, hiking, weight lifting and that's all in preparation for the world combat games in Poland.

"Because of his limb he has to prove himself more it is what it is," said Betzold's coach, Thom Ortiz.  "We're gonna take all that talent and make a champion out of him."

Matt is already a champion; he's the first and currently only amputee to hold a professional MMA title.  As he works toward someday competing in the UFC, he's well aware of the other rewards that come from the sport.

"I get to inspire others to live their dreams and their passions and follow their hearts."

Matt's ultimate goal is to win the UFC's fly weight division and become the UFC world champion.  Until then, the continues to train, passing on his knowledge as an MMA instructor for kids.

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