Ryan Connor ‘I Am Going to Make Whitlock Respect Me!’

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Ryan Connor (photo: Martin Blais)

Ryan Connor (photo: Martin Blais)

When it comes to team sports, it is easy to find that superstar player early in the draft but once in a while you can find that franchise guy late in the late rounds who can make a name for himself.   In the fight world, sometimes someone can get lost in the shuffle when you have a crop of top tier fighters.  Fitplus in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia fits into that category and Ryan Connor is looking to make a name for himself.  That opportunity will arise when he takes on Lyndon Whitlock in the main event at ECC 20: Apocalypse this Saturday.

When asked about headlining the show Connor felt it was a long time coming.

“I think it’s an awesome opportunity and a step up in competition and I can’t wait to get in there and get it,” says Connor. “I think this is a good time in my career to test my skills against someone with a good record and someone with a household name.  It was a good opportunity and I am glad ECC was able to cross there T’s and dot there I’s and get this done.”

After losing his debut fight to Gavin Tucker at ECC 11, Connor has won four straight showcasing his mix of wrestling and jiu jitsu skills as three of the four wins have come by submission.  After a win against Michael Steel, Connor dropped down to Bantamweight where he has had some trouble finding fights.  With the recent success of Michael Spoenlein and Morgan Rhynes, the Maritimes have some up and comers for Connor to compete with in the near future.

One would think Connor could still fight at 145, but it was the size of a training partner that prompted the move down.

“I felt in my first fight I was kind of out-muscled by Gavin (Tucker) and then looking at someone like Tristan (Johnson) who is a lot bigger weight, height and strength wise than me I felt it was a smarter move overall,” says Connor.  “I felt it was a better move for me and Scott (Maclean) my coach thought it was better overall move for me to go down to 135.” 

While Connor feels the move will be better for his career, Whitlock will easily be his toughest challenge to date.  While this will be Whitlock’s first fight at Bantamweight, the Ontario native has been a guy who was just outside the top ten Featherweight rankings while only suffering loses to the likes to higher ranked guys like Gavin Tucker and Tristan Johnson.  Whitlock still owns a good record at 7-4 and does have the name recognition with his stand-up skills.  Most people will probably be picking him to win the fight but Connor does plan to show him he will be in for a war.

“Right of the bat I am going to get his respect right away,” says Connor. “I am going to make him respect me! I plan on being in front of his face the whole time. I am going to be grinding him.  I am not going to give him a chance to breathe or even think about anything.  I am going to be straight forward, right at him.  He will have respect for me at the end of it I am sure.”

Ryan Connor lands a knee (photo: Martin Blais|Aggro Photography)

Ryan Connor lands a knee (photo: Martin Blais|Aggro Photography)

While Connor may be the underdog going in, he will definitely be prepared when he gets the chance to step into the cage.  This Whitlock matchup was set so close after his ECC 19 win against Josh Walker that he really did not take any time off.  The other thing that will help him is some of his training partners at Fitplus.  While TJ Grant is usually the first name that comes to mind when you mention the gym, having top guys around the same weight class like Chris Kelades, Maverick Cowx (who is preparing for his fight against Dave Anderson the same night) and Tristan Johnson (who has defeated Whitlock) make for great partners who each bring their own styles to training that benefits Connor immensely.

“With Tristan being an ex-boxer before coming over to MMA, he has helped me with my stand-up over of the years getting me to the point now where I am comfortable with everything so I owe a lot to him. Kelades is a wizard on the ground and he twists me up like a pretzel almost every night so I am constantly learning from those two.  Maverick, he is bull headed. He is stubborn so he puts it on you every single night because he doesn’t have a low gear.  He is just in your face all night, every night,” says Connor

With the training partners that he does get to roll around with on a daily basis gives him a good chance to win this fight, this could lead to some bigger and better things.  With Morgan Rhynes and Michael Spoenlein facing off in the co main event, you can’t help but wonder if ECC could be setting a possible title match for the two winners.  While the possible idea of having a belt wrapped around his waist sounds pretty enticing, he knows he can’t be thinking that far ahead.

“I am not really focused on that right now, I got my hands full with Lyndon,” says Connor. “Whatever comes of it we can figure that out after the fights and what comes out of the results.  I am focused on Lyndon right now, I got my blinders looking towards him.”

While a win against a national name could open up a lot of doors for Connor, we will have to wait and see what his result will be.  One thing we know for sure is that fans in Halifax will be in for a treat come Saturday night


4 Responses to “ Ryan Connor ‘I Am Going to Make Whitlock Respect Me!’ ”

  1. Mike kent says:

    Ryan’s and awesome fighter and super hard worker ! This should be a great fight ! Good luck Ryan !

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  2. M.F.M says:

    Be careful what you wish for kido, WHITLOCK via K.O.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 6

  3. Louden Swain says:

    I wish I could watch this fight. Whitlock with the finish

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. fitnessplus says:

    I think they earned each others respect tonight. Great fight!!

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

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