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Big Nasty ready for battle Friday night in Calgary

Fort Macleod’s Thomas (Big Nasty) O’Connor has a date with former Unified MMA champion Tim (Shady) Smith on Friday night in Calgary.

Their catchweight bout is one of 10 on the Unified MMA 52 card at the BMO Centre, and it’s the latest big moment in O’Connor’s career.

“In MMA every fight is extremely important but I think this fight has even greater than normal implications,” the 31-year-old O’Connor said. “It’s a very valuable fight in my career and another true test of my skills and training.”

“Tim is such a game, tough, and experienced opponent that a decisive win over him is a huge statement. Winning this fight shows the world my growth, that I’m constantly improving, and that I can compete with the best in the world.”

O’Connor was to fight Smith in September 2022 but had to pull out due to issues O’Connor had with making the weight cut. He has worked with nutrition and health coach TJ Whelan to address those issues.

“I would say there is a lot of anticipation for such an exciting fight,” O’Connor said. “Unified 52 is going to be a great night of fights but the MMA world is getting a treat with our co-main event fight. It’s a very exciting match-up that I think fans, the MMA world, and I know I have been looking forward to for a really long time.”

O’Connor is a five foot eight, 155-pound light heavyweight out of the Progressive Fighting Academy in Lethbridge, with a professional record of 11 wins and two losses. He’s riding a two-fight winning streak going into his next bout.

Four of O’Connor’s wins have been by knockout or technical knockout, five have been by submission and two by decision.

His two losses came by submission and decision.

At present, O’Connor is ranked No. 3 among western Canadian professional light weight fighters and eighth in Canada. He is ranked 48th among  1,223 fighters in the U.S.

Thomas O’Connor will battle Tim (Shady) Smith on Friday.

O’Connor’s last fight was Dec. 2022 in Unified MMA 47 when he forced Devon Brock to submit at 2:49 of the third round.

Smith, a 40-year-old Edmonton resident, has a professional record of 18 wins and 12 losses.

The five foot 10 Smith weighs 155 pounds.

O’Connor is anticipating a battle when the two fighters step into the cage on Friday night.

“I am familiar with Tim,” O’Connor said. “He is a very tough, skilled, and experienced fighter. He’s well rounded, being well versed standing and striking or if it hits the mats and becomes a grappling match. He has skills everywhere the fight goes and he’s been in every type of fight.”

O’Connor knows Smith will bring mental toughness, conditioning, and a well-rounded attack to the fight.

The Fort Macleod fighter will counter with a ferocious pace and a new level of technical ability.

“I want to crash upon Tim like a wave then disappear like mist.” O’Connor said. “Overwhelming pressure and attacking from multiple angles while keeping a disciplined and aware defence.”

“I’ve put in a lot of work sharpening my overall game and I look forward to putting it to the test this coming Friday.”

O’Connor is grateful for the support he receives from his teammates and training partners at Progressive Fighting Academy and Hard Training, and from coaches Brad Wall, Trevor Hardy, Scott Ward, and Connor Derry.

Fighting in Calgary will benefit O’Connor in terms of reduced travel and pre-fight preparation. It also gives more fans of both O’Connor and Smith the chance to cheer in person.

“I know the energy in the building is going to be electric,” O’Connor said. “Tim will have a strong support system there but I love that. The more energy in the building the better. I am very grateful to get the opportunity to compete at the BMO Centre in Calgary in front of all my family, friends, and fans and just blow the roof off that place. I don’t see how it can’t be an advantage to me when I love a hyped up crowd and that’s what I see being there on fight night.”

The Unified MMA 52 card also features a featherweight title match with John Nguyen (5-3) and Maged Hammo (13-6-1).

The fights can be viewed live on UFC Fight Pass.

O’Connor gave a nod to sponsors Front Line Towing, Merge Mortgage Group, Southwest Flooring and Supply, along with his family, friends, and fans.

“None of what I do is possible without a great team.”

Thomas (Big Nasty) O’Connor is in the co-main event at Unified MMA 52.

Thomas O’Connor will battle Tim (Shady) Smith on Friday.

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