You felt MATE was better looking than GNOME 2.
I looked and found I still had the following gnome 2 systems bootable...
openSUSE 11.4 (old evergreen; latest updates May-2016) - I prefer its GNOME 2.6 to MATE. openSUSE had their own menu as well which is very like MATE.
CentOS - yep here I agree; MATE is better than the simple GNOME 2 found in a very plain CentOS/RH offering
Fuduntu - here GNOME 2 wins; but I feel more because of the tweaks made to the gnome 2 by the Fuduntu devs.. It was a really nice distro; a shame it was based on Fedora; and its updates stopped not longer after EOL (even Fedora's repo's didn't add that much support).
Of course, "better looking" is very subjective.. but my take on these gnome 2 machines I have, say