Tyson Pedro hasn’t been excited for a fight to come in a while.
But that’s different this weekend as he prepares to step in front of an Australian crowd at UFC 284: Makhachev vs Volkanovski. Pedro is one of the few fighters on this weekend’s card that fought the last time the UFC was in Perth for UFC 221. He is looking forward to having the support of friends and family in the crowd, especially because of the time he has had to spend away in New Zealand for training camp.
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“I've got quite a few family (members) coming over, but man I miss my baby,” Pedro said. “I'm ready to see my baby and my wife. Obviously, I'm trying to up the fighting, and this is the third camp in like ten months. My baby is a year-and-a-half. I've been training away for nine months. It's been rough, but they’re all sacrifices so that she can have a better life.”
Pedro has been reaping the benefits of those sacrifices, going 2-0 in 2022 after being away for over three years. Both his victories were first-round finishes, his most recent one came last year at UFC 278, when he defeated Harry Hunsucker.
Tyson Pedro Fight Week Interview | UFC 284
Tyson Pedro Fight Week Interview | UFC 284
Pedro had family cheering him on in the stands inside Vivint Arena, noting that it was a “cool moment” to perform in front of them. Following the fight, he was able to sit back and enjoy the accomplishment, but then kept things moving forward for the next opponent.
“You can't deny that you can’t hear "ooooh" or the excitement when you get hit or when you hit someone,” Pedro said. “You try your best to try and lock in, but I feel like I don't really appreciate how big of an event it is until afterwards, when you really notice all the crowd and appreciate it.”
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The 31-year-old was originally slated to face China’s Zhang Mingyang, but a late withdrawal left Pedro with a new opponent in Modestas Bukauskas, who had four fights in the UFC before going to Cage Warriors for two fights.
Even with a late opponent switch, Pedro still stays optimistic about the game plan. In fact, he embraces the little bit of unknown that comes with facing someone new.
“At this level, not much really changes; you can try and look at an opponent's weaknesses,” Pedro said. “But you never know what version of themselves they're going to bring in, so you still have to work out a lot inside the Octagon. The fundamentals stay the same. You can work on little things that you maybe saw in these fights, but most of it stays the same. I like that part of the game, being able to figure out the chess game inside there.”
The light heavyweight thinks that everything worked out because this is a better fight for the fans. He feels that it could be a very exciting fight because Bukauskas is a striker. The Lithuanian has secured nine of his 18 victories by knockout and, on the other side, all 13 of Pedro’s victories have been by finish.
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Despite the late opponent change, Pedro emphasized how intense this training camp was. Training out of City Kickboxing, with the likes of Israel Adesanya, Dan Hooker, and Alexander Volkanovski has allowed him to up his game, and even though it’s been an intense camp, he knows it will all lead to success.
“I did my last camp there, as well, but it was definitely upped in intensity,” Pedro said. “I can only imagine it's going to get harder and harder, especially as opponents get harder and harder, but I feel pretty freaking amazing.”
Heading into this fight, Pedro’s main focus is on his performance. He knows that everyone is expecting a lot out of him, and he also expects that of himself, as no one puts more pressure on him than he does.
Fighting in front the Australian crowd is going to be special, and he is looking forward to hearing the fans cheering when he makes his walk this weekend.
“Just to hear that roar, it's like a spike in your life,” Pedro said. Every day we are training hard, and then just to have that big spike, there's almost a come down after it, to be honest. I'm excited to hear that roar. I just want to get my work done, get in that Top 10 and then keep grinding.”
UFC 284: Makhachev vs Volkanovski took place live from RAC Arena in Perth, Western Australia on February 11, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive all the action on UFC Fight Pass!
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