Tristan Connelly to defend his belt against Shane “Shaolin” Campbell at Unified 31

EDMONTON — Tristan Connelly isn’t wasting any time in defending his Unified MMA Lightweight Championship.

After taking out defending champ Garret Nybakken at Unified 30 in March, Connelly is set to put his title on the line against UFC vet Shane “Shaolin” Campbell in the main event of Unified 31 on June 9 in Edmonton.

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“Shane is going to bring it, and I’m going to bite down on my mouthguard and swing for the fences too,” the Vancouver product says. “It’s going to be a back-and-forth brawl, but I’m going to wear him down and take him out in the fourth or fifth round.

“I’m going to come out on top and bring my title home, where it belongs.”

Not so fast, says Campbell.

Hot on the heels of a five-fight run in the UFC and a dynamic TKO win at Unified 30, Campbell is feeling better than ever. He has his sights set on returning to the pinnacle of international MMA competition, and he’s excited his road back to the UFC’s Octagon goes through Connelly.

“This is a big opportunity for me to showcase my skills in front of Edmonton and hold it down for my city. I’ve got a big team behind me, and I’ve gotta lead by example,” Campbell says.

“Tristan is just holding my belt,” he continues. “He’s just another body. Another stepping stone for me.”

Former Unified MMA Lightweight Champion Garret “Nasty” Nybakken will return to action against fellow Edmonton fighter Craig Shintani, who’s won five of his past six bouts.

Both fighters are hungry to bounce back into the win column after suffering losses in their most recent outing.

“I’m very excited to get back in the cage and put that last fight behind me,” says Nybakken, who was previously on a five-fight win streak. “I have something to prove and Craig is a strong kid. I think it’s a great fight for me to show I’ve gotten my wrestling back in order and won’t be held down by a wrestler again.”

Adds Shintani, “I’m really excited for this opportunity to fight at home again. I’m going to put on a show for my friends, family and all the Edmonton fight fans! This is a fight that fans want to see, and I look forward to the challenge.”

Tickets go on sale April 20.

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