As pointed out the last time we checked in with the Sunderland native, bad decisions, fight card placement, and just a general desire to show off the best side of himself had led the 30-year-old to a place in his career where all that matters is winning big and winning fast.
“It’s about time I speak up and show these people what I can do,” Pearson said of his (fairly) new attitude. “And it’s just the excitement of knowing that I’m going in the right direction and doing the right things. The biggest thing for me was being out here in San Diego with my camp, Alliance. When I’m out here with my coaches and my training partners, I’m a dangerous fighter. I’m not coming out here to be a better wrestler, I’m not coming out here to be a better jiu-jitsu guy; I’m coming out here to be a better striker, to be able to beat those guys. I’m learning and training day in and day out how to use my skills to beat these guys. I’m not improving to be an NCAA wrestler, I’m training to knock an NCAA wrestler out. I’m training to knock a BJJ black belt out. That’s what I want to do and why I’m out here. Everyone knows I’ve got the power to put anyone away with one shot and not many guys in the lightweight division are doing that.”
Pearson’s excitement is not just talk either. His last four wins over Stout, Gray Maynard, Ryan Couture and George Sotiropoulos have all been by knockout, and if you take away his controversial decision loss to Diego Sanchez in June of 2014, the Brit would have only lost once (to Al Iaquinta) since 2012.
So it’s no surprise that Pearson is back in the spotlight as the UFC returns to the United Kingdom, as he faces Evan Dunham in the co-main event of Saturday’s card in Glasgow, Scotland. It’s where he wants to be, but he’s not going to let any of the added media obligations distract him from the task at hand.
“I just take it as I go,” he said. “I don’t focus on that; I try to focus on one thing only, and that’s the fight. I take each day as it comes and do what I gotta do. The fight’s more important to me than the talking. That’s how I make a living, that’s how I’ve been in the UFC for six years now, so I just keep focusing on doing what I do best and take each day as it comes.”
That’s not to say Pearson doesn’t enjoy where he’s at these days. He’s come a long way from staring at an arena holding a UFC show, wondering what it would be like to fight there as he put in hard days on a building site as a bricklayer.
“I love how far I’ve come along in this sport, I love what I’ve done in this sport and I love every day of my career,” he said. “I take each day like it’s a blessing and I keep thinking to myself ‘I could be stuck back on that building site, just dreaming of where I want to be,’ but I’m actually here now, I’ve being doing it for years now, and I keep getting better and better. I’ve not stopped, I never quit, and I’ve never gone back. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, but I’ve never given up, I’ve never quit, I’ve never backed down, and I’m still here and still on that ride, loving what I’m doing.”
And more than ever, the former Ultimate Fighter winner is determined to scratch out another line for himself in the UFC history books as a world lightweight champion. That desire has never faded.
“You would think after so many fights and being on that rollercoaster ride that you lose that emotion or lose the drive and the focus, but I’m still as focused as ever and I still want the gold,” Pearson said. “That’s my main goal and I still keep chasing it. I’ve got the ability, I’ve got the skill set and I’ve got the belief that I can do it. I’ve just got to do it, take what I believe I can get and as long as I keep enjoying it, I don’t see anyone stopping me from doing it.”
It sounds like a working man’s mentality, one that Southern California living, co-main event slots on UFC cards, and international stardom won’t ever erase. Ross Pearson is still the same guy he was all those years ago, and he’s proud of it.
“That’s who I am, that will never change,” he said. “I’m a working class, blue collar guy. Working hard is what I do. I don’t quit, I’ve never broke, and I’ll never give in. I just keep working hard, keep grinding and keep chipping away. I’ve got that builder’s work ethic and mentality. I keep working for my money and that’s who I am. I’m not bothered about fame, I’m not bothered about being Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best friend, I don’t care about any of that. I just care about fighting, working hard, making my money, and putting on exciting fights for the fans. Everyone from the Northeast of England, where I come from, is built like that. It’s imprinted in us.”
> UFC FIGHT NIGHT:BISPING VS. LEITES
1PM/10AM ETPT Glasgow, Scotland