Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson has been fighting since he was 17. At 31 years old now, the British boxing ace has seen it all as he enters UFC Fight Night: Mir vs Hunt against former TUF winner Chad Laprise this weekend in Brisbane, Australia.
“In my personal life, a lot has changed since I started fighting,” Pearson said. “I’m a married man, I moved to Australia, I have a family. But in my fighting life, nothing has changed. I still have the same dream to be the UFC champion. I’m pushing to the top.”
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Pushing to the top is something that Pearson is known for inside the Octagon. There are no boring Ross Pearson fights. The fans know it, the lightweight division knows it, and that won’t change against Laprise.
“Everything I’m doing for this fight is right and I believe I’m going to go out there on Saturday and do everything I say I’m going to do,” he said. “I am going to give the fans an exciting fight, and I’m going to give the critics something to talk about by getting what I want. I’m ready to fight the biggest and best names that we’ve got.”
Pearson has not been shy about how he feels after his most recent loss against Francisco Trinaldo in Boston earlier this year. He believes Trinaldo ran from him the entire fight and eked out a decision by simply keeping at a distance for fifteen minutes. But he still has faith in some of the guys in the division.
“I still think there are a few fighters in the top ten of the division who come to fight; Eddie Alvarez, Gilbert Melendez, Donald Cerrone are all old school guys who come to fight,” he said. “Two more impressive knockouts and I will be right up in the mix with those guys. I believe in my ability and my work ethic and I still have the bad intentions to go in there and knock every one of them out.”
As in any division in today’s UFC, Pearson believes he’s just two noteworthy victories away from being ranked near the guys he mentioned above. And bad intentions aside, “The Real Deal” says it is all just business.
“100 percent. That’s been my whole mentality my whole career,” he said. “I’ve only fought one guy in my whole career that I didn’t like and that’s George Sotiropolous. But every other guy, win, lose, or draw, I have shaken hands and had a beer with afterwards. This is what we do for a living and we can’t do it without having guys to fight. I’m a working class guy and I’m humble because I know there are a lot of fighters out there who would take my place in a heartbeat. This is a short career and I live in the moment. I don’t want to have any regrets, and when it’s time for me to say I’m done, I want to walk out knowing I gave this sport everything I had every time out. I won’t let myself be my own failure.”
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Pearson is looking for a knockout against “The Disciple,” but it’s not a given, even with Laprise taking the fight on short notice after original opponent Abel Trujillo had to withdraw following visa issues.
“I respect Laprise for taking the fight and he’s dangerous,” Pearson said. “But my goal from day one was to be world champion. I’ve done the foundations and the hard work to get to where I am now. My desire to win the fight is never going to go away. When the time is right I will know, like if my body isn’t able to do the things I can do now. My body still feels like I’m 25 years old. My weight is light and the cut has been easy this week. My body will tell me when it’s time, but my mind won’t and then that will be the fight within myself, and I know my body will lose that fight because there is no quit in my mind.”
Mixed martial arts is an unforgiving game. But as Pearson puts it, the physical toll is just a small part of the overall dynamic of being a fighter.
“Looking back on my career is a roller coaster. The lifestyle of a fighter is something no one can really prepare for. It’s a crazy life, and there are a lot of twists and curves. You have to be ready for anything and you have to be prepared for everything. It’s a fast way of life but I’ve always enjoyed it. I tell young fighters that I purposely went out there and sought something different in training partners, coaches and places to live. I enjoyed all the learning, and like I say to young fighters, ‘Don’t limit yourself to just one style; go out there and take in as much as possible. You just have to enjoy the ride.”