Before Tristan Connelly challenges Garret Nybakken for the Unified MMA Lightweight Championship in the main event of Unified 30 in Edmonton, Alta., Canada on March 17, LIVE on FITE TV and GoFightLive, the top 155-pounder sat down with Pro MMA Now.
How did you find MMA to begin with?
When I was 19 or 20 years old, I went to try out a Brazilian jiu-jitsu class. I fell in love on the very first day. I was hooked. I started doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitions, then did some pankration competitions, got offered a fight and just took it from there.
What were your goals when you started training?
I just loved it and wanted to get as good as I could get. There was no plan to fight — I knew nothing of MMA when I started jiu-jitsu — so I was just there to have fun and enjoy myself. It led to this, where I am now.
How do you feel about what you’ve accomplished since then?
Any fighter always wants to accomplish more, no matter what they’ve done. Fighters tend to be very critical of ourselves. That being said, I feel like I’ve done OK. I still have a lot to prove. I still have at least a few good years ahead of me.
Do you have a prediction for this fight?
I think I’m going to finish him in the first or second round. I fight at a really tough pace and all of my wins have been in the first or second round, almost all in the first round. Garret has some stuff that he does really well, and he does some things stylistically that play into my favor. That’s going to make the fight a lot easier for me.
What would that title belt mean to you?
It would mean a lot, man. I’ve been fighting for six or seven years and have made a lot of sacrifices along the way. To win this would show that those sacrifices have been worthwhile, and I’ll have something tangible I can hold on to.
[Photo courtesy Shane Deringer Photography]