Tristan Connelly

Tristan Connelly Talks Gym Culture, Bibiano Fernandes Inspiration and UFC Video Game Contributions

Tony Reid – What is the mindset and culture at your gym Checkmat Vancouver?

Tristan Connelly – It’s not just me. I am one guy in a group. I own this gym but I have killers that train with me. You don’t get this good by beating everybody up. I get beat up all the time by these guys. I think one reason we have gotten to where we are is that we don’t have that hierarchy mentality or that old school mentality that you have to be here and can’t go anywhere else. It’s more of a very team centric dynamic. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We help each other. It’s not just at my gym. I go to a bunch of other gyms and we all get together and help each other out. All of the top guys at my gym and other local gyms get together and help each other out.

Tony Reid – How do you feel about your own personal development in the gym?

Tristan Connelly – As use this analogy, with the amount of time I put into this I could be a surgeon. I could be a specialist. That is how much time I have put into this sport. I feel like I have finished med school. I have finished my doctorate. I’ve done all of that. Now it’s time to go out on my own. It’s time to go out there and be the surgeon that I am.

Tony Reid – Well, you got paid like a surgeon at your fight at UFC Vancouver.

Tristan Connelly – People say it (the money) must be great and it is great. It is awesome. It doesn’t change anything. I don’t have an expensive lifestyle. I don’t want anything. What I want is to keep getting better. What that money means is that now I might be able to go do three weeks at AKA or TriStar or a bigger camp. That is one thing I will be able to do more. I have my own gym. I’m not rich but I don’t need for much. The money will just go in the bank.

Tony Reid – You worked with a number of capoeira guys in the lead up to your last fight. How did that help you against the flashy Michel Pereira?

Tristan Connelly – I wouldn’t even say he’s capoeira as much as an accurate acrobat. It’s that unorthodox, explosive movements out of nowhere. I’m used to that. The guys I work with specialize in capoeira for mixed martial arts. It’s not so much the dance, its fundamental boxing, kickboxing, wrestling and the can throw crazy spinning wheel kicks and back kicks. They have been jumping and flipping at me for a long time.

Tony Reid – How did your unique relationship with EA Sports come to be?

Tristan Connelly – All of the people that have been talking about it have it all wrong. Michael Bisping thinks I’m a suit that works for EA Sports. I don’t work for EA Sports. I have two different positions that are entirely separate from each other. At EA Sports, they have a gymnasium and fitness studio that is subcontracted to a local company and that company subcontracts me to teach Jiu Jitsu and kickboxing. So, I am a contractor for a contractor for EA. I’m there three days a week teaching Jiu Jitsu and kickboxing. I go in and teach one class three days a week then I’m out. Then, completely separate from that, I do motion capturing for the EA Sports UFC game. That is every one or two months when they are in that section of the game. It might be six or seven months that goes by between times that I do that. A talent company beings me in to do that. I’m not working for EA. They ask for me because they know me from me teaching them in classes. They know me and trust me. They trust my expertise in what would be done in certain fight situations. We have to figure out whether that will work in the game. There are things that are weird and hard and repetitive about it. People think it’s cool but its eight hours going from this position to this position and the various scenarios for each one. Eight hours goes by and it feels like you did nothing because you go over all these little transitions and you have to do a hoot for each one and talk about it each time. It’s a lot of work to get everything going.

Tony Reid – What is it like to train with Bibiano Fernandes?

Tristan Connelly – Bibiano, who I have been training with for a long time, is an inspiration. That guy is so good and so dedicated. He is a 135’er and he has the best Jiu Jitsu I have ever experienced. That guy will armbar you on rapid fire over and over and over again. To see where he has come from and where he is now, it’s a huge inspiration to me.

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