MMA fighter AJ Matthews shows off his Filipino warrior spirit with Lapu-Lapu tattoo
"A lot of my favorite fighters have war gods on their back, some kind of tattoo, right? ...and when Lapu-Lapu came to mind, it was a no-brainer. That’s the guy."
It's a pretty common sight in combat sports, most especially in mixed martial arts.
Being warriors themselves, a number of MMA fighters have tattooed images of historic combatants, such as the Samurai, Spartans, and the like.
The same goes for Filipino-American MMA fighter AJ Matthews, who did it with a Pinoy twist.
Dropping by S+A's The Score, Wednesday evening, Matthews talked about getting to appreciate the Philippines more and more ever since relocating back in 2016.
"I’m learning about the Philippines, learning the language a little bit, learning the history a little bit, and one of my favorite things so far that I’ve learned about is Lapu Lapu." Matthews told The Score's TJ Manotoc. "I’ve had this image crisis, I didn’t know who I was, so I left America and I went to Thailand. I wanted to be Muay Thai, I wanted to be Sagat from Street Fighter. Maybe it’s not quite right, so I went to Japan and I wanted to be a samurai, right? Musashi and The Book of Five Rings, it all makes sense. Then it didn’t work out."
(READ ALSO: Fil-Am fighter AJ Matthews feels the PH love)
"I came to the Philippines, my mom’s from here, we’re Waray, and then I start to get to know people and then I hear about Lapu Lapu," Matthews, whose roots can be traced back to Hinangudtan, continued, before revealing an awesome back tattoo depicting the legendary Pinoy warrior.
"Man, that guy is sick! He stood up to the Spanish."
After the guesting, Matthews talked to ABS-CBN Sports a little more about the tattoo, which was done by Atan Sanchez.
"A lot of my favorite fighters have war gods on their back, some kind of tattoo, right? Anytime I see an image or something, I’m like ‘Is that the one? Is that the one?’ And when Lapu-Lapu came to mind, it was a no-brainer. That’s the guy."
The 29-year old Bellator MMA welterweight then related his affinity to Lapu-lapu to his MMA career.
"Bellator is the Philippines, and if you’re trying to fight me, you’re the Spanish. It just got a little more fire in me. It was nice to find it."
How's that for Filipino warrior spirit?
Matthews relocated to the Philippines back in 2016, along with friend and training partner, ONE Championship heavyweight king Brandon Vera, but will be flying to the United States at the end of the month to prepare for a potential fight this coming December.