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Connor Matthews is an Undefeated MMA Fighter & Former USAF Combat Controller Determined to be UFC Champion... (Video Interview)

I took a ride to Lauzon Mixed Martial Arts in Raynham, Massachusetts to talk with up and coming, undefeated (4-0), and the current 4th ranked New England MMA featherweight, Connor "The Controller" Matthews. During our conversation, Connor talked about his childhood, military service, training under Joe Lauzon, fighting through the Pandemic, and ultimately accomplishing his goal of becoming a UFC champion.

Connor and my son Dylan attended Coyle and Cassidy High School in Taunton, MA where they became friends, graduating in 2011. Connor decided to go to Coyle because of the school's exceptional hockey program. He had dreams of becoming a professional hockey player, but an injury during the second round of a high school playoff game his senior year ended his hockey season and prevented him from trying out for junior teams that spring and chasing his dream.

Connor was quick to make the decision to get back into martial arts, something he had done since he was three years old. He had his first amateur MMA fight just two months after graduating high school, an impressive win against an older, more experienced opponent named Derrick Shorey, and at 19 seconds of the first round. After that fight, Connor was addicted to cage fighting…

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Shortly after graduating high school, Connor took a construction job in Boston, trained at night, and two years later he decided to enlist in the Air Force (2013) and become a "Combat Controller". 

The recruiter asked him, "Do you wanna save people, or do you wanna kill people?" Connor was deployed to Afghanistan during wartime (2017-2018). 

The Air Force taught Connor about pride, discipline, hard work, and focus. It's where he made lasting friendships with fellow servicemen who he considers "family for life". He had performed his job diligently for the better part of six years when he made the tough decision in 2019 not to reenlist, deciding instead, to return home and devote himself to fighting, more specifically, to "chasing his dream" of becoming a UFC champion.

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"Shoot, Move, and Communicate!" (Connor's third from the left)

Connor has been fortunate to have been trained by one of the UFC's best lightweights in Joe Lauzon, a 'cagey veteran' who has 28 professional wins with 17 coming by way of submission. Joe taught Connor his ground skills starting at an early age and although Connor is known for his striking, he has a legit ground game…

Video courtesy of Ian Gray

Jake Mainini is his striking coach and Connor's punching is perfectly timed, accurate, and has devastated his opponents…

Everything Connor has done up to this point in his life including, overcoming injury, being a Combat Controller in the United States Air Force, and training through setbacks, has led him here, to this moment, where he has an opportunity to become a champion.

"Keeping our world small"

Connor has had several opponents fail to show up on the day of the weigh-in and either the fights have been canceled or he's been forced to fight a different opponent, sometimes guys who are up a weight category. Although it's frustrating, he grabs his lunchpail, goes back to work the following day, and prepares for the next opponent…

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After talking with Connor and seeing firsthand, his intensity, competitiveness, incredible determination and drive, not to mention his mental and physical toughness, work ethic, and dedication to the sport, I believe Connor "The Controller" Matthews has everything in his toolbox that he needs to become an MMA featherweight champion.

Connor trains hard, eats right, gets his rest, and always makes weight…         

Photo by Ian Gray

Connor's first professional MMA fight took place at Memorial Hall in Plymouth, Massachusetts on August 24, 2019, against Stacey Anderson. He was known as Connor "Bad News" Matthews back then and the name was fitting. The fight only lasted 7 seconds… Don't blink!

Video courtesy of Cage Titans

MMA fighters train, spar, fight, and in Connor's case, he recently opened his own gym in Wareham, MA, Controller MMA Proving Grounds, and teaches classes there. It's a full schedule, one that can wreak havoc on relationships. But, Connor has found the perfect girl. Her name is Erin Johnson, aka "Warbaby", and she's an up-and-coming MMA fighter who's been training at Lauzon MMA for 10 years. She wrestled at Bridgewater-Raynham High School and currently teaches kids at Lauzon's in the same program she began her mixed martial arts career in. 

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When Connor returned home after serving in the Air Force it was Erin who helped him prepare for his first professional MMA fight. They trained together for two years before they started dating, which ended up being a secret they couldn't keep…

Photo by Ian Gray

Erin arrived at the gym shortly after we finished the interview, but I got to talk with her for a few minutes. She and Connor both want to be lifelong martial artists and they set goals and accomplish them together. They don't partake in traditional date nights, they would rather train together and then enjoy a healthy meal afterward. Connor admits, "She's the only one who laughs at my stupid jokes!" As far as relationships go, it doesn't get any better than that.

"Warbaby" can throw with the best of 'em…

Video by Ian Gray

Connor knows there's a lot more work to be done before he catches the attention of the UFC, but he's never been one to shy away from hard work or a difficult challenge… 

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At 29 years of age and in the best shape of his life, with Joe Lauzon as his manager, great people working his corner, along with the unwavering support of family, friends, teammates, and of course, Erin, there's no stopping him now…

Connor's next fight is on March 4th against Keith Speed. SEE YOU THERE!

You can live stream the fight on UFC Fight Pass

Watch the entire 36-minute interview here:                                                      

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*A huge thanks to Lexi Pappas & Dylan LeVine for filming and editing the interview