Welcome to the UFC, Tristan Connelly.
The 33-year old Canadian got the call to fight in Vancouver on just five days notice and he set foot in the Octagon as the biggest underdog on the entire card. 15 minutes later, Connelly had his first UFC win after getting a unanimous decision over highly touted prospect Michel Pereira.
“Feels like it’s just a start,” Connelly said after the win. “I know I’ve deserved to be here for a long time. Tonight was my chance to prove it.”
It was a blitz of flashy movies from Pereira as soon as he was released from the corner. The Brazilian uncorked several highlight reel kicks and even a flying knee that sent him over Connelly’s head.
For all the explosive strikes thrown, Pereira didn’t land much and Connelly did a good job avoiding any real contact during those exchanges. When Pereira finally started connecting with his strikes it was a more basic kickboxing attack but Connelly refused to go away.
With each passing minute it seemed like Pereira’s gas tank was draining while Connelly began upping his output including a scramble on the ground where he tagged the Brazilian with several stinging shots.
Pereira slowed down significantly in the second round as expected but he still managed a takedown that put Connelly on the ground that allowed him more time to get some oxygen back in his lungs.
Pereira stayed heavy on top to prevent Connelly from escaping until the horn sounded to take the fight to the final round. His strategy changed dramatically from the wild opening as Pereira became focused on a wrestling heavy attack but he was still struggling to keep Connelly underneath him.
In return, Connelly started to come after Pereira with everything in his arsenal trying to get the finish after accepting this fight on less than a week’s notice. Connelly nearly wrapped up a guillotine choke and then transitioned into top control where he was peppering Pereira with strikes that put the Brazilian into survival mode.
When the final horn sounded, Connelly threw his hands up in celebration as the judges scored the fight 29-28, 29-27 and 29-27 all in his favor as the UFC rookie made quite an impact in his first appearance.