Who is Connor Matthews?

Connor Matthews makes his UFC debut at UFC Atlantic City on Saturday.
Connor Matthews
Connor Matthews / UFC

UFC Atlantic City is right around the corner and features a main event between flyweights Erin Blanchfield and Manon Fiorot. Outside of that, this card is stacked with several aspiring fighters looking to make their mark in the UFC. Connor Matthews is one of them. The United States Air Force Combat Controller has spent a lot of time honing his skills. Marshall has amateur fights dating back to 2011 and turned pro in 2019.

UFC fans were first exposed to him on Dana White's Contender Series against Francis Marshall in 2022. The first round was a solid back-and-forth, but Marshall's boxing and power started doing damage. His ability to mix it up with the takedowns was the more impressive part of his game, which neutralized Matthews' ability to walk through damage and do some of his own on the feet. By the second round, Matthews had spent more time in the cage than his previous five fights combined. He was used to dominating competition, which makes seeing a second round new territory. He would go on to lose the fight via unanimous decision.

Matthews returned to the regional scene and took his frustrations out on Andrew Cruz. Seven months after losing his DWCS bout he competed at Combat Zone 79. He would go on to defeat Cruz via a spectacular first-round submission earning him another shot at returning to DWCS.

He got that second chance on Oct. 10, 2023, against Jair Farias. Matthews was able to showcase his grappling this time around. Matthews used footwork to avoid more damage and retreated to reset. As a result, he took less damage while avoiding heavy flurries, and stepped on the gas as the fight continued. Fight IQ was on point. He won the fight unanimously on the scorecards.

Connor Matthews takes on Dennis Buzukja at UFC Atlantic City

If you enjoy watching Calvin Kattar and Rob Font, Matthews is a spitting image. He has good boxing, solid counters, keeps the pressure on you, and boy, can he take a punch. He fights confidently, which is important, but his durability stands out. You can tell he's cut from that New England Cartel cloth.

For his UFC debut, he's drawn Dennis Buzukja who fights out of the Long and Weidman MMA camp and should bring a solid grappling background to this fight. While his UFC career has not gone well, it started by taking on Sean Woodson on short notice. He followed that up with a tough fight against Jamall Emmers. Emmers caught him clean with a hard right hand and dropped him in the first round.

Buzukja had never been finished before that and the timing was perfect. If this fight doesn't end early, fans should be in for a treat. Both guys come from solid grappling backgrounds but also have power on the feet. Buzukja will be driven to win after losing his last two fights in the UFC. Similarly, Matthews is on a proving ground. He's had tremendous success regionally but now needs to prove he belongs at this level for good.

Matthews is exactly the type of fighter the UFC loves. If he can come away with a big win in Atlantic City, they won't hesitate to give him another quality opponent to showcase his skills in a big way.


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