Matt Bessette (born December 28, 1984) is an American mixed martial artist currently competing in UFC's Featherweight division. A professional competitor since 2007, he has also competed for Bellator and is currently the CES MMA Featherweight Champion.
In June 2016, Bessette opened Ascension Athletics in Bristol, Connecticut.
Mixed martial arts career
Bessette started his professional career in 2007. He fought mainly for Connecticut-based promotion Reality Fighting. Bessette faced Anthony Kaponis on October 9, 2010 at Reality Fighting: Eruption for the vacant lightweight title. He defeated Kaponis via split decision in a five-round bout. Bessette was set to make his first title defense against Joe Proctor on October 8, 2011 at Reality Fighting: Gonzaga vs. Porter. He lost his title via unanimous decision after five rounds.
In 2012, Bessette signed with Bellator. Bessette made his promotional debut against Saul Almeida on March 30, 2012 at Bellator 63. He won via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28). Bessette faced The Ultimate Fighter 12competitor Paul Barrow on November 16, 2012 at Bellator 81. He won via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27). Bessette faced Nick Piedmont on September 7, 2013 at Bellator 98. He won via knockout early in the first round.
Bessette faced Diego Nunes in the quarterfinal match of Bellator Season Ten Featherweight Tournament on February 28, 2014 at Bellator 110. He won the back-and-forth fight via split decision. Bessette faced Daniel Weichel in the tournament semifinals at Bellator 114 on March 28, 2014. He lost the fight via unanimous decision.
Bessette faced Scott Cleve on September 5, 2014 at Bellator 123. He lost the fight via unanimous decision. Bessette faced Josh Lupberger at Bellator 134 on February 27, 2015. He won the fight due to a doctor stoppage between the second and third rounds.
After a two fight stint with CES MMA, Bessette returned to Bellator and faced Kevin Roddy at Bellator 144 on October 23, 2015. He won via submission with a heel hook in the first round. Bessette faced Keith Richardson at Bellator 153 on April 22, 2016. He won in the second round due to a doctor stoppage.
Bessette made his promotional debut on June 12, 2015 in the co-main event of CES MMA 29 against Kharma Worthy. He won via knockout in the second round. He returned for CES MMA 30 on August 14, 2015 against Lenny Wheeler. He lost via knockout in the first round, making it the first time in his career that he was knocked out. After a return to Bellator, Bessette returned to CES MMA on March 11, 2016 to face Taurean Bogguess at CES MMA 33. He won via submission with a triangle choke in the first round. He was originally scheduled to fight Tito Jones, but Jones backed out three days before the event due to injury.
Bessette returned to CES MMA on June 10, 2016 to face Jairo Soares at CES MMA 36, but Soares was pulled the day before the fight for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. Soares's replacement was Ran Weathers, whom Bessette defeated via submission in the first round.
Featherweight Champion At CES MMA 37: Summer Gold, Bessette was set to take on Stephen Cerventes for the vacant CES Featherweight Championship, but he was replaced by Joe Pingitore. Bessette won the featherweight belt with a heel hook submission victory in the second round. Bessette successfully defended his title with a TKO win over Kevin Croom at CES MMA 41. At CES MMA 44, Bessette was scheduled to fight Jeremy Spoon but he was replaced with Rey Trujillo.]Bessette again successfully defended his championship with a TKO victory.
Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series
On June 22, 2017, it was announced that Bessette would headline the July 11 premiere event of the Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series against Kurt Holobaugh. He lost the fight via knockout in the first round. Five days after the fight, it was announced that Kurt Holobaugh used an illegal method of hydrating with an IV , the fight would be declared a no contest.
Ultimate Fighting Championship
In his UFC debut, Bessette replaced Arnold Allen against Enrique Barzola at UFC 220 on January 20, 2018 at UFC 220 on January 20, 2018 . He lost the fight via unanimous decision.
Bessette faced Steven Peterson on July 6, 2018 at The Ultimate Fighter 27 Finale. He lost the fight via split decision.