If one knows their enemy and themselves, said Sun Tzu, they need not fear the result of a hundred battles.
Calgary, Alta.’s Matt “The Kid” Krayco (7-8-1) squares off against Edmonton, Alta.’s Tim Smith (14-10) in the welterweight main event of BTC 11 this Sunday in Edmonton.
Krayco, 30, said his opponent is a familiar face whose development in the sport has, in several respects, mirrored his own.
“We knew each other from the early days. We were good friends. Everyone kind of knows each other on the local scenes,” said Krayco in an interview with MMA Empire.
“He’s always been a go-getter. Gritty, likes to compete. You know, comes from a base of old-school traditional kickboxing and muay thai. Obviously, he’s well-rounded. That’s the thing in this day and age, and especially when you get up to this level, you’ve got to be ready for everything. Not going to lie to you though, majority of my fights guys end up wanting to wrestle, so if he wants to stand and bang I 100 per cent welcome it. If he wants to come make it a kickboxing fight he’s going to have his ass out-kickboxed.”
Having trained in a wide variety of disciplines since eight years old and first competed in MMA at just 15, Krayco is no stranger to novel challenges, and said he approaches fighting as a mixed martial artist rather than a specialist, despite a particular aptitude for striking.
“I started at Dynamic (MMA) with my coach Vince Gentile, who has blackbelts in multiple martial arts, and he didn’t like the specifics direct to any one system. He wanted to be more broad, so he teaches this system called combattere libero, which is Italian for ‘free fighting’,” said Krayco.
“When I was first starting, I remember my coach gave me a videotape for my dad to watch and told me I wasn’t allowed to watch it, so of course I went and watched it. It was one of the early Rumbles (In the Cage), and on it were a couple of our teammates. One of them was another kid from our classes, in a kickboxing fight. Then after there was an MMA fight—back then they called it ‘no holds barred’—and one of the vets out of the gym got an eight-second knockout with a big overhand right, and I seen that and I was just star-struck.”
While his life-long immersion in martial arts incited a profound passion for fighting and competition, Krayco said the journey to this point has not been without many hard lessons, and even tests of his resolve.
“Three years ago when I fought Michael Hill, I had broke my hand midway through the fight, and then afterwards had a surgery to put it back together with pins, and it failed. We put a plate in, and then the screws failed. I woke up with all this metal in my hand and had a severe staph infection in my bone,” said Krayco.
“Come my next fight, it was probably about a year and a half later and eight surgeries, I had a PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) to my heart, carrying around an IV bag for months on months, and it was a very scary, life-changing moment.”
Despite the trauma of this experience, Krayco said he continued to be a daily presence in the gym through teaching and coaching others, and in doing so gained an even deeper appreciation for the core principles of martial arts, such as the importance of training one’s spirit with the same discipline as one’s body.
Since the bout with Hill in 2018, Krayco has been sidelined not only due to injury, but an inability to find willing opponents.
He is grateful to Smith for signing on the dotted line with only a few weeks’ notice, and said he knows Smith is a dangerous out and will bring the best out of him
“I love and respect the guy a hundred percent, but I’m hungry. I’ve constantly been in the gym helping some of the boys who went up to BFL not long ago, and helping the boys who are fighting here for Unified (MMA),” said Krayco.
“I’m excited, I’m ready to go. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’ve come to accept that we may be on the ground, we may be standing. I may break my f**king hand and have to go to a whole new game plan. You know, go old-school Urijah Faber just throwing elbows. Whatever comes, my mind, body and soul, everything’s ready.”
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