Mattapoisett resident to make UFC debut

Mar 27, 2024

MATTAPOISETT — Connor Matthews and about a dozen others were in his parents’ basement on a Sunday afternoon. In pairs, most of the people there were grappling intensely with one another.  

Down in the basement of his family’s Mattapoisett home, Matthews runs a mixed martial arts gym. Sundays are for open mat time, where anyone can come to train, and the afternoon of March 24 was no different. 

Several cars lined the street outside the house that contains the basement-turned-fight gym, fittingly called “Mom’s Basement MMA.” Open mat was in session. 

But a day later, Matthews and some of the equipment there were out of Mom’s Basement and off to New Jersey.

Matthews makes his debut Saturday, March 30 for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the prominent mixed martial arts league. When Matthews walks towards the octagon for a fight night in Atlantic City, it will be a moment he has been working toward for more than a decade.

“For me, it’s kind of like it’s been about time,” Matthews, 31, said. “I’ve been after this.”

Matthews’ first professional bout was in 2019. Back then, he went by the nickname “Bad News” in the ring. 

Now, announcers call his name as Connor “The Controller” Matthews. It’s a reference to the six years Matthews spent serving in the Air Force as a combat controller, essentially a special forces operative and certified-FAA air traffic controller in a single role. He had one deployment to Afghanistan. 

Though those years constituted a break in consistent mixed martial arts training, it’s experience that still applies, especially in preparing for a match.

“I feel like I’m just mentally stronger from my military background,” Matthews said. “The training they put us through to be in special operations is pretty grueling, and they train your mental as much as your physical, so I’m just going to put that all to work when I’m getting ready for my UFC fight,” Matthews said.

Originally from nearby Freetown, Matthews and his family moved to Mattapoisett just a few years ago. 

Previously, Matthews had a gym in Wareham, linked with a local CrossFit. When the CrossFit closed down, Matthews needed a place to go. His parents Lisa and Patrick graciously let him set up his mats in their Mattapoisett basement temporarily, while Matthews looked for another location. 

That was a little over a year ago, he said. Since, Mom’s Basement has gotten more mats and even a fight cage. 

“It's really grown into something that’s really cool and unique,” Matthews said.

Mom’s Basement isn’t where Matthews trains professionally as a mixed martial arts fighter. He does that in Lawrence with a team called New England Cartel. The training camp for his UFC debut was long and grueling, according to Matthews.

He dealt with some adversity during camp, including injuries and his dog passing away.

“But I overcame it all, and it’s all really coming together here at the end,” Matthews said.

At Uncle Jon’s Coffees in Mattapoisett, a banner hangs wishing Matthews luck for the Saturday fight. Matthews says he goes to the shop every day and has felt its support.

“That was really special to me,” he said. 

In the approaching featherweight bout, he’ll be facing a fighter named Dennis Buzukja with a couple of UFC fights under his belt. Matthews will enter the Saturday debut with a 7-1 professional record. 

But from Monday, March 25 until fight night, Matthews will be in Atlantic City preparing for the match. 

“It’s been a dream come true,” Matthews said. “I feel more ready than ever.”