Without question, Tristan Connelly will be the underdog Saturday night at UFC on ESPN+ 16.
On less than a week’s notice, Rise FC lightweight champion Connelly (13-6 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will move up a weight class to take on viral sensation Michel Pereira (23-9 MMA, 1-0 UFC).
UFC on ESPN+ 16 takes place Saturday at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The card streams on ESPN+.
Despite hearing the UFC and fans’ concerns, Connelly isn’t fazed by the size disadvantage. The 33-year-old Canadian envisions himself moving toward Pereira, not being intimidated by his aggression or explosiveness.
(Oddly enough, size might be talked about even more now after Pereira came in at 172 pounds, a pound heavy for the welterweight fight, at the official weigh-ins on Friday.)
“He’s going to come at me hard,” Connelly told MMA Junkie. “He thinks I’m the smaller man and he’s going to scare me and intimidate me by rushing at me? Not going to work. He’s going to get tired. He’s going to bend. He’s going to break and I’m going to finish him.”
There were a few factors Connelly cited as to why he’ll get the job done Saturday. Pereira, a bulky Brazilian, has only competed once in the UFC. Connelly thinks a small mainstream sample size has led to hype outweighing reality.
Pereira’s UFC debut lasted less than two minutes. Connelly think’s Pereira’s muscle mass creates a potential for the Brazilian to gas out if the fight lasts longer.
“This guy is a big dude cutting a lot of weight, who moves a lot,” Connelly said. “I’ve got great cardio. I’m really tough. I won’t give him a second to rest. He’s going to get tired. … He’s been in the UFC for a minute and a half. That’s not long enough to get tired.”
Additionally, Connelly questioned Pereira’s body of work to get into the UFC. The Vancouverite isn’t impressed by his opponent’s resume en route to the promotion. When he compares himself to Pereira, Connelly thinks his own body of work is a step above that of “Demolidor.”
“I watched a bunch of his old fights and he hasn’t fought a bunch of good guys,” Connelly said. “Everyone is running all this hype. … The guy stood in front of him. (Pereira) looked great, don’t get me wrong. But I’m not going to be that (expletive) guy.
“I’ve beaten way better guys than he has if you look at his record, besides Danny Roberts – he’s the only really good guy. There have been a lot of cans. A lot of cans.”
Last on his list, Connelly questioned Pereira’s ability to take a punch. When he watched older tape of his opponent, Connelly said he saw Pereira respond poorly when hit.
“I just think he’s going to break,” Connelly said. “I’ve seen him get knocked out with light punches and he really got knocked out quick – as soon as he got punched.”
Connelly doesn’t mind being the underdog at UFC Vancouver. The oddsmakers have made him by far the biggest underdog on the card. In fact, he said he feels like most of the pressure is off of his shoulders. He plans on shocking the world Saturday night.
“There’s no pressure on me,” Connelly said. “He better beat me because if he doesn’t, shame on him. That’s embarrassing if a lightweight comes in on five days’ notice who’s never felt in the UFC before (and) messes up this guy who’s got all this hype. The craziest UFC debut ever?
“He’s supposed to knock me out in the first round. When he doesn’t, when he gasses, and I beat him, all his hype is my hype. I’m going to steal his thunder.”
- UFC on ESPN+ 16 official weigh-in video highlights, photo gallery
- Zabit Magomedsharipov out of UFC on ESPN 6 co-main event against Calvin Kattar
- Manny Bermudez vs. Charles Rosa slated for UFC on ESPN 6 in Boston
Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Tristan Connelly unimpressed by Michel Pereira's resume, chin, cardio ahead of UFC on ESPN+ 16