‘I don’t really give a f*** about his plans’ – Mason Fowler responds to Nicolas Meregali’s call-out

Mason Fowler spoke to Grappling Insider about potential future opponents, including Nick Rodriguez and Nicholas Meregali.

With a perfect 5-0 record at the UFC Fight Pass Invitational (UFC FPI), elite black belt competitor Mason Fowler has established himself as one of no-gi grappling’s top four active heavyweight competitors.

Fresh off a thrilling submission victory over Who’s Number One (WNO) light heavyweight champion Pedro Marinho at the UFC FPI 6, Fowler sat down with Grappling Insider to discuss his current run of success and future potential opponents, among other topics.

Check out the full interview below.

Fowler was slated to face multiple-time ADCC champion Gordon Ryan late last year in what would have been one of the biggest matches of Fowler’s career up to this point. 

However, when Ryan announced a hiatus from competition and withdrew from that match due to health concerns, Fowler made the decision to move on and seek out the most difficult opponents available. To that end, he accepted the match against the supremely dangerous but lesser-known Marinho. 

“Once he posted that, then I was like, ‘Man, I’m never gonna get the match,’ so f*** it, let’s just take all these matches with all those tough guys that no one knows because, at the end of the day, I just want to test myself against the best guys in the world.”

In terms of who he wants next, Fowler believes that a showdown with two-time ADCC silver medalist Nick Rodriguez makes the most sense. 

Like Fowler, Rodriguez is undefeated at the UFC FPI. And while he’s most interested in a clash with the B-Team product, Fowler admits that he’s open to facing whomever the UFC FPI wants to slate him against.

One possibility, he admits, would be Ryan’s New Wave teammate and ADCC absolute silver medalist Nicholas Meregali. For his part, Meregali has been campaigning for a matchup against Fowler.

According to Fowler, he had previously asked to face Meregali back in 2022, but that match never came to fruition:

“The only other possibility would be Meregali, which I’ve also called for Meregali in the past. You know, when Meregali first came to no-gi, I was the guy that was messaging Who’s Number One, I want the match with Meregali, and no response. And now Meregali is calling for me. 

“My thing is, I don’t really give a f*** about his plans or what he wants. I’m here for myself and what I think is the right move for myself right now is the match with Nicky Rod. I’m sure that match will happen at some point. He’s trying to start a big war on social media and calling me out and all this stuff and I just kind of ignore it. I don’t want to play into his strategy or his games at all.”

Fowler, along with Rodriguez, Meregali, and current gi world champion Victor Hugo make up the sport’s top four active heavyweight grapplers, all of whom compete at the UFC FPI.

He admits that Meregali likely sees him as the weakest of the bunch – and certainly the smallest. With that in mind, Fowler says that Meregali is calling him out just so he can avoid Rodriguez and Hugo:

“Besides that, I think that another reason that he’s trying to get a match with me is because he has Nicky Rod calling him out, which he already said he doesn’t want to accept that match. And he also has Victor Hugo calling him out, and again he said that he doesn’t want to accept that match. And of course, he has his reasons why he’s saying he supposedly doesn’t want to accept them, but calling me out is one way of basically turning down those two guys without really turning them down…

“I think that’s in his head what he’s thinking. ‘Dang, my next match is gonna have to be either Nicky Rod, Mason or Victor Hugo?’ So they sit down, ‘Okay who do we have the best chance to beat? Probably Mason.’ I’m the smallest out of the options, right?

“I don’t think that he thinks I’m an easy match, but I just think that he thinks that Nicky Rod and Victor Hugo are tough matches, but I get it. They’re big, huge, athletic monsters… 

“At the end of the day, we’re grappling each other. It’s not that big of a deal. I don’t really care.”

Ultimately, Fowler isn’t particularly interested in engaging in some war of words or building up a match with trash talk.

Instead, he has a healthy sense of self-awareness about himself and the sport of professional grappling.

On the topic of trash talk in jiu-jitsu, Fowler added:

“Guys egos get super big. Like bro, you are not a UFC champion. We are grappling each other. You’re not a fighter. You’re not the shit. You’re not that cool. We’re all not that cool, we’re jiu-jitsu guys. When I was doing MMA, I thought all the jiu-jitsu guys were p****** and now I’m one of them. Maybe that’s why I don’t let my head get too big because I came from MMA. But yeah, a lot of these guys walk around like they’re the big bad wolf and it’s like bro, you’re not that cool… We’re not UFC fighters, man. Stop acting like you’re in the UFC.”

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

Ben Coate has 1190 posts and counting. See all posts by Ben Coate