TUF winner plans to earn some new Brazilian fans on Saturday night
Ross Pearson is looking to prove that he is in fact “The Real Deal.”
The winner of Season 9 of The Ultimate Fighter has looked impressive during his time in the UFC, claiming victories over seasoned veterans Aaron Riley and Spencer Fisher, and current contender Dennis Siver. His next test comes against highly touted prospect Edson Barboza Saturday at UFC 134 in Rio, and he is excited to be part of the historic card.
“It’s feels great to be a part of it, it’s a massive card and a massive opportunity for my career to be main card on such a big show. I’m very excited about this fight.”
The match-up between Pearson and Barboza pairs two of the best young strikers in the lightweight division. Both have their traditional disciplines, but as they’ve shown in recent outings, neither is afraid to just step to the center of the cage and mix it up.
“We are both strikers,” began Pearson, speaking with Heavy MMA prior to heading to Brazil. “He comes from a Thai back ground and me from a boxing background, but we’re both mixed martial artist. I can see this fight been explosive everywhere, not just standing toe-to-toe, banging it out. I’m developing my game in all areas and I’m sure he will be too. I’m prepared for wherever this fight goes.
“I see my movement and punches in combinations been a big advantage for me,” continued the 12-4 native of Sunderland. “Plus I’m hitting harder than I’ve ever hit before. I’ve done a big strength camp and put on size, so I feel strong, fast and powerful.”
With the fight being in Brazil, Pearson will have to do his best work in front of a hostile crowd. He chooses to see it differently, however, and feels the pressure will fall on the shoulders of his opponent.
“I try not to think about it too much. I’m sure he will be feeling more pressure to win in his home, in front of his friends and family and fans. I’m just going in like I always do – give 100-percent ’til the end.”
Last time out, Pearson bounced back from the first misstep of his UFC career – a loss to Cole Miller at UFC Fight Night 22 – by defeating the durable Fisher at UFC 127 in Sydney, Australia. While coming back from a loss is never easy, the lessons learned in the comeback were crucial to his development.
“It felt great to get back to winning ways. The loss to Cole hit me hard, so it made winning against Spencer a lot more satisfying. I realized I made some mistakes in that fight and (my training) camp so, I put them right. I felt as if I was tense in the first round, thinking about my previous knee injury, but once I got into the fight, I felt in control. I think I was breaking Spencer down near the end, and he couldn’t keep my pace. But he’s tough and hung in ’til the end [and gave] me problems all the way.”
A win on Saturday would put Pearson further into the mix in the 155 pound ranks, the deepest and most competitive division in the UFC.
“[Lightweight] right now is stacked,” began the 26-year-old, sharing his thoughts on the state of the division. “(There’s) so many top guys out there. I feel we’re both young guys coming through the ranks to establish ourselves in the division. I’m not thinking about nobody after this fight or where it puts me in the division; I have a job to do first. After the fight, then I can sit down and think about it.
“Right now it’s one fight at a time, but seeing Dennis [Siver] up there makes me mad because I know I should be up there. But he’s got some good wins behind him, and [he's] moving forward just like I’m planning on doing.”
Since his time on The Ultimate Fighter, Pearson has not only been fighting for victory inside of the Octagon, but also to legitimize himself in the minds of the MMA fan base.
“Everywhere I’m a true professional mixed martial artist. Now I’m 100-percent dedicated to my life as a professional fighter. I feel I’ve grown as a fighter in every fight I’ve had, even the loss to Miller, but I feel my attitude towards the sport and what I want from this have grown the most.”
As for Saturday night, Pearson plans on giving the Brazilian fans something to remember.
“Expect fireworks because this is going to be a great fight. I’m coming to put on a great fight for the Brazilian fans. I may not be the home favorite, but I hope my fighting on that night can allow me to take home some Brazilian fans.”