ROSS “the Real Deal” Pearson says it will be a “dream” to tackle an opponent named Couture in tonight’s Ultimate Fighting Championship showdown.
Pearson, along with fellow Sunderland fighter Phil De Fries, are both in action in Sweden tonight at UFC Stockholm 2013, where the Wearside pair face their first fights of 2013.
Lightweight Pearson tackles American Ryan Couture, the son of three-time UFC heavyweight champion and hall of famer, Randy Couture.
Couture senior has been a hero for Pearson and headlined the main event when the 28-year-old made his UFC debut in 2009.
And although Ryan Couture will be making his UFC bow tonight, Pearson has still relished the extra attention which has accompanied the bout.
Pearson told the Echo: “My first fight for UFC was when Randy Couture v Brandon Vera was the main event and I could only dream of a Pearson v Couture fight.
“Now I get that opportunity, it’s brought a lot of media attention and it is a good fight for me.
“He is an up and coming guy, who likes to back off and then jump in to try to get his opponent grounded.
“I am sure he will have trained a lot with his dad for this fight and I am sure he will try to use that knowledge.
“His dad was an amazing fighter and I respect him so much. He was one of my heroes.
“But I just feel that I am a more rounded fighter and I am comfortable whether he wants to wrestle or box.”
Pearson was successful in his lasting outing against Australia’s George Sotiropoulos last December and ahead of his ninth bout for UFC, believes he has made significant progress over recent months.
“I feel I am coming into my own now and my style is definitely improving,” he said.
“I was a very one-dimensional fighter when I first came here, but I was only 25.
“I have grown up with it and now I am a true mixed martial artist.
“Now I have the confidence to think that I am not beaten if I get put on my back.
“That used to be a big fear of mine, but now I know I can cope with anyone on the floor.”
Pearson and De Fries are now sharing an apartment in San Diego, where they both train at the infamous Lion Gym.
And Pearson believes his flat-mate has made giant strides since relocating to America last year.
De Fries faces American Matt Mitrione in a heavyweight bout tonight – the opponent he was scheduled to face before losing to Todd Duffee last December.
“Phil and I have been living in the same apartment so it’s been good to hear a local voice!” added Pearson.
“Being out in America is like being in the military because you are training every day. It’s just good having a friend here who you know.
“This will be his fourth fight out of the Lion gym and he’s getting better and better every time.
“We are both ready for this fight, coming back to Europe.
“I’ve fought all over the world, in America, Brazil and Australia, and now I’m coming back to Europe.
“Even though it is not my homeland, hopefully there will be some Brits out here.
“A lot of my friends and family are out here, and I’ll go back to Sunderland tomorrow after the fight.”
UFC Stockholm 2013 is live on ESPN from 9pm tonight.