Go to the mat and take it to the mat are different forms of the same idiom. We will examine the definition of the phrases go to the mat and take it to the mat, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.
Go to the mat and take it to the mat mean to fight to the bitter end, to continue to struggle until one is victorious or one is defeated. When you go to the mat or take it to the mat, you commit to putting all of your effort behind an endeavor. The verb phrase go to the mat and the verb phrase take it to the mat are often used figuratively in informal business English, as a metaphor for taking on a hard fight with all of one’s effort. The implication is that the speaker will not quit, no matter how difficult the fight becomes. There are not exact synonyms for these idioms that may be found in a thesaurus. The expressions go to the mat and take it to the mat came into use around the turn of the twentieth century, and are derived from the sport of wrestling. In wrestling, the contestants compete while standing on a mat. During a bout, there is a period of grappling and positioning. However, the contest is not won until the opponents fall to the mat, and one of them is pinned. Related terms are goes to the mat, went to the mat, going to the mat, takes it to the mat, took it to the mat, taking it to the mat. The phrase go to the mat is used much more frequently than the phrase take it to the mat.
“We are willing to go to the mat, whether it’s in small ways or large ways,” he said. (Vida en el Valle)
“As long as he was willing to go to the mat for him, it fortified probably people up here, too,” said Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the chamber’s third-ranking Republican leader. (The Washington Post)
“I think it is an affront to our authority that we’re even having this conversation, and as for myself, I’m ready to take it to the mat.” (The Carlsbad Current Argus)
They’re even-tempered and politically correct much of the time, but if PR people get all riled up and mobilize, you can bet they’ll take it to the mat. (The Pagosa Daily Post)