Tristan Connelly will finally make the walk to the Octagon at UFC 261 and will do so two weight classes lower than his debut fight.
Connelly made his UFC debut on short notice against Michel Pereira at UFC Vancouver in 2019, he also moved up to welterweight for the fight. Connelly ended up pulling off a big upset and earned a decision win.
After the fight, however, Connelly started to feel more pain from a car crash he was in before the fight. After trying to rehab it, he was forced to undergo surgery but knew he would return.
“I wasn’t willing to accept that my career was over. I was 100 percent planning to return and see what was going to happen,” Connelly said to BJPENN.com. “It was always like, what do I have to do to rehab and get healthy. After I got the surgery, my pain was essentially gone and I knew I could get back to fighting.”
Since being cleared to fight, the Canadian has been in Las Vegas awaiting a contract offer. Connelly also told the UFC he would be dropping from welterweight to featherweight and needed to fight before May as he had to go back to Canada, and he got his wish as he will return at UFC 261 against Pat Sabatini.
“I’ve been pushing to fight. I have to go back to Canada in May because my wife and I bought a new townhouse, and we need to move everything into a storage unit,” Connelly said. “Then, I have to do a two-week quarantine when I get back to Canada, so I can’t have that in a middle of a fight camp. There were talks of fighting Darren Elkins, which I super excited about. I don’t want to speculate, but the date didn’t work for him. The UFC told me they still wanted me on the same date and maybe a week before it was announced I got the contract offer to fight Pat Sabatini.”
Although the plan was to drop to lightweight, his natural weight class, after the surgery and how the weight was coming off him, Connelly knew he could make featherweight.
Yet, Connelly says this might not be a permanent move, rather it’s something he wants to test out.
“I have been watching my diet hard and eating super clean and no cheat days. I’m leaner than I’ve ever been and I want to make a run at featherweight,” Connelly explained. “Most of my training partners are featherweight and I did everything right. I’m not sure if this will be a long-term move, this is more of a test, I’m fine to make the weight. But, it’s more to see how I feel and what happens after the fight. I’m 15lbs lighter than I normally am when I’m fighting at 155, so I know I’ll make it.”
When Tristan Connelly does make the walk to the Octagon again, it will be in front of a full capacity crowd which he’s excited for. The Canadian also is expecting a very tough and gritty fight against the former CFFC featherweight champ.
“He’s the real deal, man. I think this kid will do well in the UFC. I see a lot of similarities between the two of us,” Connelly concluded. “He’s a D-1 wrestler, BJJ black belt, I’m a black belt as well. We are also both grinders and neither of us will quit. Neither of us will give up a submission, and I doubt either of us will get knocked out. I think it will go the distance, it will be a three-round war.”
Do you think Tristan Connelly will beat Pat Sabatini at UFC 261?