Tristan Connelly returns from injury layoff, fights Pat Sabatini at UFC 261

Nolan King and John Morgan
·2 min read

Tristan Connelly has his first fight booked after undergoing neck surgery months ago.

For the first time since his UFC debut in September 2019, Connelly (14-6 MMA, 1-0 UFC) will return to competition and fight Pat Sabatini at UFC 261 on April 24. The event takes place at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN/ESPN+.

Two people with knowledge of the matchup recently informed MMA Junkie of the booking, but asked to remain anonymous since the promotion has yet to make an official announcement.

Connelly made his UFC debut on short notice up a weight class against viral sensation Michel Perreira. An unfamiliar name to most at the time, Connelly entered the fight against Perreira as a sizable underdog. Despite the odds, Connelly stuck to the fundamentals and handed the high-flying Perreira his first UFC loss by unanimous decision.

Sabatini (13-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) signed with the promotion earlier this year as a short-notice replacement to fight Rafael Alves at UFC Fight Night 185 in February, but his fight was canceled when Alves missed weight by 11.5 pounds.

The CFFC featherweight champion, Sabatini enters his UFC debut on a two-fight winning streak. His lone loss in his most recent six fights came due to an arm injury in February 2020.

With the addition, the UFC 261 lineup includes:

  • Champ Kamaru Usman vs. Jorge Masvidal – for welterweight title

  • Champ Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jessica Andrade – for women’s flyweight title

  • Champ Zhang Weili vs. Rose Namajunas – for strawweight title

  • Uriah Hall vs. Chris Weidman

  • Jimmy Crute vs. Anthony Smith

  • Randy Brown vs. Alex Oliveira

  • Brendan Allen vs. Karl Roberson

  • Danaa Batgerel vs. Kevin Natividad

  • Qileng Aori vs. Jeffrey Molina

  • Johnny Munoz vs. Jamey Simmons

  • Kazula Vargas vs. Rong Zhu

  • Dwight Grant vs. Stefan Sekulic

  • Ariane Carnelossi vs. Na Liang

  • Tristan Connelly vs. Pat Sabatini


Fight booking wire (March 29-April 4): Raoni Barcelos vs. Timur Valiev booked for June