Connor Dixon chose to return to Cage Fury Fighting Championships [CFFC] for a reason.
Undefeated at 2-0 as a professional, Dixon signed to fight at CFFC 82 inside the Hard Rock Casino in Atlantic City on March 21. It’s his first bout with the promotion since winning by a first-round arm bar at CFFC 73 on March 2. He was two fights into his amateur career.
Since then, his teammate and former CFFC welterweight champion Sean Brady signed with the UFC and is currently 1-0 inside the octagon. Another one of Dixon’s teammates, Jeremiah Wells submitted Marco Smallman with a second round rear-naked choke at CFFC 78, claiming the vacated CFFC Welterweight Championship on Sept. 21.
Dixon is pleased with his signing after seeing his teammates go through the promotion first hand.
“Some of the areas best MMA fighters of all time have gone through CFFC and most of them are on my current MMA team, it’s a great working relationship and a great opportunity to end up in the UFC,” Dixon said. “It makes more sense than anywhere else right now.”
Waiting to rule
Dixon is waiting his turn to rule the top of the regional promotion. The welterweight is surrounded by UFC veterans between training at Renzo Gracie Philly and Extreme Evolution Fight Camp in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as well as Webb Fitness MMA in Sewell, New Jersey.
Some of his everyday training partners include Jonavin Webb and Paul Felder, both former CFFC champions and both UFC veterans. Dixon is also working alongside current CFFC Featherweight Champion Pat Sabatini and nine-time CFFC veteran Michael Wilcox.
Wells is riding a two-fight win streak, including a 22-second knockout against Mumia Abu Dey Ali at CFFC 76 on June 14. Wells has not defended his belt yet.
Much like Wells followed Brady, Dixon is content on waiting patiently for his chance at the strap.
“By the time I get into contention, I can’t possibly understand him [Wells] not being in the UFC by the time I start getting into title contention,” Dixon said. “It’s already a travesty that Jeremiah is not in the UFC, I don’t know what’s taking so long.”
Come one, come all
Less than three months away from his promotion debut, Dixon is understandably without an opponent. He is open to fighting just about anyone.
His two previous opponents share a combined record of 3-5. Dixon is confident he can hang with anyone in CFFC, especially because of the guys he trains with everyday.
“It’s a good marker because I know the level I need to be at, I feel it everyday and I am used to it,” Dixon said. “I’m not trying to take my time, not that I’m trying to fast track myself, but I’m not trying to waste time, I want to make a statement, get another first round submission and move on, get toward that CFFC title.”
The submission game
Dixon has a lot to brag about after his first year in the sport. Since making his amateur MMA debut on Nov. 3, 2018, the jiu-jitsu black belt earned five-straight submission victories between being an amateur and a professional.
Dixon is a two-time Bellator veteran, recently submitting Orkhan Ismatzade at Bellator 231 on Oct. 25. This bout occurred before he spent a full year competing inside a cage.
Competing often is nothing new for the long-time jiu-jitsu practitioner and wrestler.
“I’ve been training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu since, gosh, the age of seven and I wrestled all throughout high school and a few years in college,” Dixon said. “I know some of the MMA guys say ‘Oh, I only fight two or three times a year,’ I come from a world where we compete 50 to 60 times a year between jiu-jitsu and wrestling, that’s the cloth I’m cut from.”
His history of grappling runs deep with his father, Dan Dixon, owning Impact BJJ in Millville. A blackbelt for over two years, Dixon is willing to put his ground game up against just about anyone.
He wrestled four years for Millville High School and then at Rowan College of Gloucester County in 2016 and 2017. He compiled a 30-7 record in his senior year at Millville, winning a district title.
“The simple answer is I’ve been doing it longer than most,” Dixon said. “I think a lot of these guys I have a lot better jiu-jitsu then, but I think one of the main things is that I am one of the first guys of the new generation that have been doing both major forms of grappling most of their lives, both jiu-jitsu and wrestling.”
The next step
His five-month stretch from his last fight to his CFFC is his longest break since competing in MMA. CFFC is a new chapter and a new stage.
Dixon is his own fighter, much more than just who he trains with. After signing on Dec. 18, he plans to display that under the new banner.
“There’s a lot of really good matchups for me where I can go in there and surprise a lot of people,” Dixon said. “I’m not saying I’m the most complete fighter in the world right now, but there’s a lot of high profile matches I can definitely win.”