Tom O’Connor plans to ‘drown’ John Nguyen in ‘deep waters’ at Unified MMA 44

Following a return to MMA in November of 2020, featherweight Tom O’Connor has only been able to have two fights, splitting them, but all things considered with the difficulties presented by the novel coronavirus pandemic, he’s pleased.

If anything, for Connor the lack of being able to compete drove him to want to compete more, stoking the fire he brings into his first bout of 2022.

“Last year was kind of a crazy year, and competing in athletics during a time like that there’s already a lot of challenges presented, so it added more, but it was really good,” O’Connor told

“Adversity makes you stronger, so that was good, and all it did for me it made me want to compete more and be a little more consistent, a little more regular and gain more experience every year. That’s the main thing I got from it was being a little more active.”

O’Connor believes he’s been able to use his time effectively by continuing to develop and sharpen his game.

“There’s a lot of really good training and training partners in southern Alberta, but getting all the partners lined up in 2020 and 2021 with Covid was a challenge, but I feel like we did a really good job to make sure we’re always improving,” said O’Connor.

“We have that growth mindset to make sure we are precise and getting better in those sessions. I think I developed my pressure style and making sure I’m mixing things up and being a hybrid MMA fighter, and making sure I master what I do well.”

This Friday in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, O’Connor (9-2) will look to get back on the winning track when he takes on John Nguyen (4-2) in a 145-pound main card bout at Unified MMA 44.

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“John, he’s sharp and fast and accurate, so he’s going to be looking to land really clean shots and try to stay out at range, that’s his path to victory,” O’Connor said. “I’m the complete opposite.

“My path to victory is put the pressure on and drown him by taking him into deep waters and making him quit. That’s what I’m going to do and what I see happening on May 6. At first get that range, set the pace, keep the pace, drown him and make him quit.”

Going forward O’Connor wants to both keep his eyes affixed on what he’s got in front of him, but also look ahead to whatever could come his way over the next year.

“I really want to present a new version of myself, an improved version of myself, and see John break under the pressure,” said O’Connor. “I want to get this win here and then go into 2023 I want to be more active and start to dominate the division and get seen by more people.

“I do think it’s good to set goals and have markers, but also (it’s important) to have adaptability in life and this sport. Adaptability is a big thing for me; just be able to go with the flow; and be able to walk through that opportunity door.”