Anticipation surrounds the return of Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) this Summer.
April 18th 2022, however, welcomed a notably exciting announcement.
Via Instagram, Czech prospect Matěj ‘Money’ Peňáz confirmed that he will be competing for a UFC contract on Season 6 of DWCS.
The 25-year-old boasts a remarkable combat sports history.
A Muay Thai talent, Peňáz won the WKN European Light Heavyweight Muay Thai Championship in 2017, and WMC European Muay Thai Championship in 2018; he also won the 2018 Muay Thai World Academic Championship.
Amidst a plethora of kickboxing awards, Peňáz also holds a 23-3-0 kickboxing record, including a 3-1 record with kickboxing promotion Glory; indeed, Peňáz earned stoppage victories over Mehdi Bouanane, Matthieu Ceva, and Yassine Ahaggan during his time with the promotion.
However, when taking a look at Peňáz’s experiences with MMA, therein lies the recipe for something truly extraordinary.
Peňáz holds a 6-0 professional MMA record, with all bouts under MMA promotion Oktagon. In just 309 days, Peňáz accumulated a 4-0 record, following victories over Patrik Jevicky, Romain Debienne, Carlos Graca and Mateusz Strzelczyk; incredibly, all four victories came via first round stoppage (2 x TKO, 2 x KO). This was followed by a third round knockout victory over Cheick Kone, and a unanimous decision victory over Giovanni Melillo.
However, despite the perfect MMA record, it’s Peňáz’s experience outside of competition that adds excitement to this prospect.
Indeed, Peňáz served as a vital tool in UFC Light Heavyweight Jiří Procházka’s preparations for his bout with Dominick Reyes. Peňáz was utilised to imitate Reyes’ style whilst sparring with Procházka.
Peňáz has also spent significant time training at the renowned Allstars Training Center in Sweden, home to an array of MMA talents, including Alexander Gustafsson and Khamzat Chimaev. In an interview with Newsy Today, Peňáz expressed his delight at Chimaev giving him praise following their training together.
Peňáz has surrounded himself with stellar talent, and is now potentially just one performance away from joining the pinnacle MMA promotion.
Courtesy of Ondrej Majerčík, I had the opportunity to ask Peňáz some questions ahead of his huge DWCS opportunity:
Matěj, congratulations on your Dana White’s Contender Series opportunity. How do you feel in this moment knowing you are potentially one big performance away from the UFC?
“Thank you for the congrats. I am truly excited and looking forward to making the most of this opportunity”.
Alongside your background in Muay Thai, you’ve had a very successful kickboxing career. Have you always wanted a career in MMA, or was there a particular motivation/inspiration behind your transition to MMA?
“The thought of an MMA career crossed my mind 5-6 years ago, but at the same time I felt like I wanted to experience and grow in the field I was in at the moment. Now, it feels like the time has come to work on more aspects of this fight life and I am ready to enjoy what this new adventures brings”.
Your professional MMA debut at Oktagon 18, vs Patrik Jevicky, was at Light Heavyweight; however, you have fought at Middleweight ever since. Was there a particular reason that you fought at 205lbs for your professional debut, and are you interested in returning to Light Heavyweight?
“My first fight was at catchweight, this was due to the fact that it had been some time since my last diet, so my team and I thought it best to put health first. I have since, always managed to fight Middleweight, feel good, and plan on staying in this”.
You’ve previously trained at the renowned Allstars Training Center in Sweden, the home to Alexander Gustafsson and Khamzat Chimaev. Could you share a reflection of your experience training at Allstars Training Center?
“This is of course a blessing to have this opportunity to train at such high level everyday, I think that this came at a right time, the need to work at my ground game could not have a better support team”.
In preparation for his fight with Dominick Reyes, you assisted Jiří Procházka by imitating Reyes’ style in training. Could you share more on that experience?
“Jiří and I have been training partners for the better part of 5 years, we know each other well. His preparation for this fight was special in that I am south-paw, meaning I could have similar striking as Reyes, and we could compliment each others style and learn from it”.
Could you explain your nickname, “Money”?
“My surname Peňáz in Czech is directly translated as Money, and actually it was Jirka (Procházka) who started using it during one of my fights”.
Lastly, who has been your biggest inspiration, to pursue a career in combat sports?
“Growing up, having a Dad who is involved in combat sports, there was always inspiration around. We watched K1, and fighters like Badr Hari and Remy Bonjasky made an impact; in MMA, Jon Jones has always been a strong sports icon in my eyes”.