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Connor Matthews battles Jair Farias of Brazil in a featherweight fight during Dana White's Contender Series season seven, week ten at UFC APEX on October 10, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
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Connor Matthews Aims For A Memorable First Impression

New England Cartel’s Connor Matthews Feels His Journey To The UFC Shaped Him To Have Immediate Success At UFC Fight Night: Blanchfield vs Fiorot

New England to Atlantic City is an easy five-hour drive, a simple trip to make as Connor Matthews prepares for his UFC debut this weekend at UFC Fight Night: Blanchfield vs Fiorot.

Matthews’ journey to actually get into the UFC has been the opposite of simple. It took a loss on Dana White’s Contender Series, a win on Dana White’s Looking For A Fight, and then a win on Dana White’s Contender Series to get that UFC contract.

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And now that he’s here, the 31-year-old featherweight is all gas, no brakes.

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“I’m really hoping to showcase a dominant performance, make a statement out here in the UFC. I’m not just a guy coming off the Contender Series and fighting a couple times in the UFC and you’re never going to see me,” Matthews told UFC.com this week. “I want to make a statement as a guy who is going to stick around and be in the UFC for a long time.”

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At 7-1, Matthews is still green to the game, but the training room at the New England Cartel has helped him cut his teeth far beyond what his record may indicate. Rounds with Rob Font and Calvin Kattar, all behind the guidance of head man Tyson Chartier, add to Matthews’ belief that he is ready for the big show.

His chance to prove it will come against Dennis Buzukja, another graduate from DWCS. Buzukja is 0-2 in the UFC thus far, with both his matchups coming against tough opponents in Sean Woodson and Jamall Emmers.

Matthews is happy that his debut comes against someone as talented and as battled-tested as Buzukja, and expecting the New Yorker to be at his best Saturday will draw out the best in him. He hopes to show fight fans watching him for the first time a wide variety of skills and that he’s got the goods to compete with anyone at 145 pounds.

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“The jack of all trades. I can do it all,” Matthews described his fighting style. “I can wrestle, I can grapple, I got jiu jitsu, boxing, kickboxing. I spent time in all aspects in different periods of my life.

“You never know what you’re going to see when you see me fight.”

Connor Matthews knees Jair Farias of Brazil in a featherweight fight during Dana White's Contender Series season seven, week ten at UFC APEX on October 10, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Connor Matthews knees Jair Farias of Brazil in a featherweight fight during Dana White's Contender Series season seven, week ten at UFC APEX on October 10, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Matthews did show his well-rounded game during his two stints on DWCS, but, to him, what was more important was that he showed his grit and ability to add to his game. He attributes those qualities to his time with the New England Cartel.

“I would not be here if I did not have those guys, if they didn’t show me what it takes to be a fighter at the UFC level. I owe everything to them to get me to where I needed to be,” Matthews said. “You could see it from my first year in the Contender Series and my second year, I looked like two totally different fighters and it’s due to who I trained with. It’s the New England Cartel and I’m super thankful to be training with them and to be able to compete at this level.”

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“The Controller” is also thrilled that his UFC debut will come in front of a crowd in a packed arena, rather than the more intimate setting at the UFC APEX. He feels like he has the fighting style that is built to entertain, and he’s been waiting to show that to the world since he started MMA.

“I’ve been imagining this and dreaming this for my whole life and it’s actually happening. I’m super excited to fight here in Atlantic City,” Matthews said. “I want to be undefeated in the UFC; that’s my goal. I’m going to do everything I possibly can to show a good performance for everybody, get the win and then it’s on to the next one.”

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UFC Fight Night: Blanchfield vs Fiorot took place live from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey on March 30, 2024. See the final Prelims & Main Card Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass