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Tom O’Connor in XFC semifinal

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Tom O’Connor takes on Damonte Robinson in a lightweight semifinal match at XFC 44 on Friday, May 28.

Fort Macleod mixed martial arts fighter Tom (Big Nasty) O’Connor continues his quest this week for an Xtreme Fighting Championships (XFC) title.

O’Connor takes on Damonte Robinson on Friday, May 28 in Des Moines, Iowa in the lightweight semifinals of the XFC tournament.

“I know he is a very skilled opponent,” O’Connor, 28, said in an interview. “He will be a hometown fighter and he comes out of a good camp so he will be well-prepared.”

“He likes to push forward and put a pace on his opponents, which is similar to my style, so I think it will make for a very exciting fight.”

O’Connor advanced to Friday’s semifinals with a win Nov. 11 over Jose Caceres, 33, who went into the bout with a professional record of 15 wins and 10 losses.

Known as The Fresh Prince of Kendall, Caceres early in his career made Kamaru Usman submit to a rear naked choke hold. Usman was the UFC welterweight champion and No. 5 in the UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings.

O’Connor took the fight to Caceres, forcing the older fighter to submit in the third round.

“It was huge for me to beat Caceres in my last contest,” O’Connor said. “Not only because of his experience and the name value, but also because it showed me that I am levelling up and that I can compete at the highest level.”

“Of course, it was a big win to move on in the XFC tournament as well. However, I know my job is far from done and in this sport, you can’t look too far ahead. So I am 100 per cent focused on my new goal to bring home another victory to Alberta. Just like in life it’s important to keep your eyes on the prize and roll with the punches.”

O’Connor was to fight Robinson in January, but their semifinal match was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fort Macleod fighter took the postponement in stride.

“This is something we have all had to work through and stay positive about on a global scale but it is great to see people come together to rise through adversity,” O’Connor said. “It has been really impressive to see how professionally XFC handled such a situation and it is awesome to be a part of this great organization.”

Xtreme Fighting Championships is a publicly-traded mixed martial arts organization with offices throughout the United States and South America.

The XFC has had more than 185 exclusively signed fighters, representing more than 35 countries.

The five foot eight, 144-pound O’Connor has a professional record of nine wins and one loss.

Robinson, 25, is six feet tall, weighs 156 pounds and has a professional record of 6-1-1. 

“My strategy for this fight is to take control of the pace immediately and begin to dominate range,” O’Connor said.

That means keeping his opponent at O’Connor’s range for punches, kicks or takedowns, while staying out of Robinson’s range.

“When I control the pace, it will create opportunities and I will be looking to decisively seize those opportunities,” O’Connor added. “My style is always to be a hurricane of pressure and break my opponents and that is what I look to do here.”

Fighting out of the Professional Fighting Academy in Lethbridge, O’Connor will have coach Brad Wall in his corner in Des Moines.  

O’Connor attributed his success to the support he receives from people such as his girlfriend Shannon, coaches and teammates, family and friends, and sponsors Front Line Towing, Bainstore Brett at CBI Health, and Sean at Macleod Chiropractic.

Fans can watch the XFC card at 7 p.m. Friday, May 28 on Fox Sports 2 or, and follow O’Connor on social media at @tombignasty.

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