Las Vegas, NV — Tristan Connelly finally enters his third UFC fight this Saturday at UFC Vegas 53, two and a half years after debuting with the promotion.
The delay has been the result of multiple neck surgeries, the result of a car accident that left the Canadian featherweight with lingering issues.
Now, he’s in a “dream come true” sort of match-up with Darren Elkins, and he sees a Fight of the Night bonus as a real possibility. When it comes to that paycheck, “I’m not cashing it, but I am writing it,” Connelly (14-7) told media outlets including Cageside Press during this week’s media day promoting UFC Vegas 53.
The surgeries, mind you, had Connelly down in the dumps for a bit. “Going through a second neck surgery, same one— not for the same spot, but another level in my neck, it hit me hard. I was super-motivated, super-positive for the first one, came back and my neck felt pretty good. From there I was excited to get going, and the second one hit me.”
Connelly knew right away that he’d need another surgery. “I could tell there was no recovery, because I tried to recover from the first one, and it just got worse. That was a dark couple months there, when I first had surgery and the first couple months, but as soon as I was able to start training again— one thing is that, I’ve really never had many setbacks in my career as far as injury-wise that have kept me from training,” he explained. “I love training, it’s all I want to do every day. Rest days are one of the hardest things for me. I really wanted to make sure I was 100% coming back, and it’s always a question in your mind, ‘am I going to be able to do this again?’ But you know what, I had faith in the process, and as soon as I started training again, everything started getting better, so much quicker.”
Heading into this Saturday in Las Vegas, Connelly sounds elated both to be back, and to have the match-up with veteran Elkins.
“I’ve been so happy and thankful all camp, just to be able to be here doing what I’m doing, and getting to fight a guy that is a legend of the sport, that I’ve looked up to,” he said. “That I’m a fan of. Most of the time when Darren’s fighting, I’m rooting for Darren. It’s not going to be this weekend, but I wish him the best, because he’s an animal, man. He’s done things that I would dream to do.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 53 media day appearance from Tristan Connelly above. The event takes place this Saturday, April 30, 2022 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada. More coverage can be found below.