As a 17-fight veteran of the UFC, lightweight Ross Pearson probably could have called up UFC matchmaker Joe Silva and asked to have his bout against Francisco Trinaldo moved from Boston this Sunday to London next month. But “The Real Deal” is just fine with a trip to Beantown.
“I don’t know what it is about going home,” laughs Sunderland native Pearson, whose last two visits to the United Kingdom haven’t exactly gone so well. “I had the Melvin (Guillard) accident happen with the no contest, and I had the Evan Dunham fight, which wasn’t really a fight; he just held me down. I’m doing better traveling the world, so I’m sticking to that right now. Wherever the UFC puts me, I’m happy going. I kind of do better when I’m away from home and I don’t have my friends and family there. I actually like going into new surroundings, making a fight a little bit more special. You’re going into a new town with new fans and it’s just a good experience.”
He did do pretty well in Manchester against Aaron Riley.
“Yeah, that was in 2009,” he laughs. “We’re talking about 2016 now.”
It is, and nearly seven years after his UFC debut, the former Ultimate Fighter winner is 31 years old and at that place in his career where he’s ready to make a move. He’s seen the good, the bad and the ugly so far, from stirring wins to crushing losses and everything in between. And while he’s looked like a world beater plenty at times, at others, he hasn’t, most notably last July against Dunham.
“It was a bit disheartening to me when I fought Evan,” he said. “I’ve been traveling the world, training all over, and what he did was something I’ve never experienced before, whether it be in training or a fight. It really caught me emotionally. I was upset and down, thinking ‘why couldn’t I do this?’
"But I learned from it, I’m training areas that I was never training before, I’m getting better, and I’m never going to let that happen again. It definitely opened a new chapter. I’m a better fighter from it.”
The Dunham fight was almost six months ago, and it isn’t even his most recent bout, but you can tell it’s still a sore point with him. But at least in September, he got back in the win column and got his mojo back with a short notice victory over Paul Felder.
“It was a very short, intense training camp,” Pearson said. “I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it and it was just going off raw instinct and raw talent. We had to just go out there and put it on the line and just go for it and whoever came out best that night won. Paul’s a tough guy, he’s very talented, he hits hard, he comes forward and he’s dangerous fighting anyone. We knew that going in and that’s exactly what I wanted. I wanted to test myself and see if I’ve still got it, really.”
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He’s still got it. Now he’s got to do it night in and night out and put together the kind of winning streak that can put him in the top 10 and then the title picture. That all starts with Brazil’s Trinaldo, and if Pearson wins, it will be his first two-fight winning streak since 2013. The key to making that happen is simple.
“I’ve got to be better than him everywhere, and I’ve got to make him realize that he’s fighting Ross Pearson, a better fighter,” he said. “I can’t give him any openings, I can’t let him take advantage of anything, I’ve got to own the fight. He’s going to bring his game up to my level, and he’s going to turn it on knowing that he’s fighting me.
"This is the biggest fight of his career and it’s a big event for him. I’ve been here before and I’ve done it. I’ve fought big names and it’s just another day in the office for me. I’ve got to go in there and I’ve got to take him out. I’ve got to make him realize what top competition in the UFC is like.
“I like the pressure on my back,” Pearson continues. “I like that this guy’s supposed to be mean and nasty and is supposed to take me out. I like the danger factor, and this guy brings heat. If you make a mistake, he’s going to take you out.”
But if “Massaranduba” makes a mistake, Ross Pearson can take him out, and that’s the plan for a man whose championship dreams are only getting stronger.
“I’m still here and I’ve been saying for a long time that I’m ready to fight whoever,” he said. “Any name, anybody, anytime. I’m at that age now. I’ve done all the training in the world, I’ve been training with the best athletes and I’m mentally and physically ready to fight anyone. All we need is to start putting some consistency together, put the wins together, and the belt is mine. I’m ready.”