Tristan Connelly: ‘I’m better than my FFC 36 opponent Zach Juusola everywhere’

When it comes to his two wins in 2018, lightweight Tristan Connolly had vastly different experiences.

While he was able to pick up a win over Tyron Henderson in December via retirement after the first round, it was a much different story when he had to go to the fourth round to finally submit Joey Pierotti in his previous fight in April.

“The last one against Tyrone, I can’t say much, he quit between rounds,” Connolly told MMAWeekly.com. “I barely even got out of first gear and I feel like maybe he hurt himself trying to escape my pressure on top and didn’t want to come back out. There’s not much to say about that.

“Joey on the other hand was a tough son of a bitch. He gave me a good run for two rounds, but I came back and took over in the third round and finished him with an arm bar in the fourth round. He was a very tough competitor, but I’m there to win, and I’m not giving up or quitting – I find a way to win.”

Nearly a decade and 20 fights into his career, Connelly is still as driven to grow as a fighter as he ever was.

“Competition is what drives me to be the best I can be,” said Connelly. “Win or lose, I always feel like I’m 10 times better in the gym the next day.

“It’s been a few months since the Tyrone fight, and I didn’t get to show what I learned from the Joey fight. I’ve stopped doing those little things (that were mistakes before) and it’s made a big difference in my overall game and I’m excited to show what I can do in my next fight.”

At Final Fight Championship 36 on Thursday in Las Vegas, Nevada, Connelly (11-6) will look to build his winning streak to three in a row when he faces Zach Juusola (11-5) in a main card 160-pound bout.

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“I feel like I can do anything I want to get the win on him,” Connelly said of Juusola. “Realistically I think I’m better than him everywhere.

“He’s good if he plays his fight, but I’m not going to fight his fight, he’s going to be forced to fight my fight. That’s what I do: force him to fight my fight. I break people – that’s what I do – and I’m going to break this guy.”

While taking his career to the next level is the overall goal for Connelly, he’s not one to look too far beyond what he has in front of him.

“That’s definitely the dream and it’s the goal you put on the pedestal, and I’m always working for it, but you’ve got to be careful to not get caught looking too far ahead,” said Connelly. “I focus on this fight and this opponent because that’s what matters. Once I beat him then we’ll see what the next step is.

“Every step is a step towards the bigger shows, and I’m pretty close, so I’ll do what I’ll do to put Zach away and then we’ll see what comes after that. I’ll take any step I can as long as its forward.”