SUNDERLAND’S very own UFC star Ross Pearson is blogging exclusively for sunderlandecho.com as he prepares to fight in Brazil this weekend. Get tomorrow’s Sunderland Echo for sports writer Chris Young’s special feature about Ross’ climb to the big time.
Here’s Ross’ latest blog.
I’VE just arrived in Rio, Brazil, for this Saturday’s fight with Edson Barboza at UFC 134.
I’ve been away from home in Sunderland for seven weeks now training for the fight, and I’m just ready to fight now.
I’m currently 4-1 in the UFC, and looking to go 5-1 against Barboza in the biggest fight of my life.
The fight is on the main card, so it will be on TV in over 150 countries in 20 languages in over half a billion homes around the world. This is a huge fight for me and I’ve come a long way to get here.
I started martial arts in Sunderland doing kickboxing when I was very young. I’ve always loved martial arts, but my dream at school was to grow up to be a boxer.
I would box at the local gyms but some of my mates began to leave boxing for mixed martial arts and I sort of followed them.
I didn’t know anything about it, I’d never heard of MMA or the UFC but I found that I loved the sport even more than boxing.
I loved the ground game – where you use judo and jiu-jitsu to submit your opponent – and the challenge of combining all the different aspects of different styles into one sport.
Within a couple of years I was a professional mixed martial arts fighter and looking to make my way to the sport’s biggest league – the UFC.
Eventually, in 2009, I did that by winning the UFC’s own reality TV show “The Ultimate Fighter” to earn a contract with the UFC.
I found the UFC isn’t quite mainstream in the UK yet. It’s on ESPN live and Channel FIVE shows fights on delay as well. Millions of people in the UK are UFC fans and it is getting better and better all the time.
In the airport when I landed in Rio there was a huge advertising board from the Brazilian government saying: “2011 – UFC. 2014 – World Cup. 2016 – Olympics”.
It shows you that the city of Rio puts this show on Saturday on the same level as the two biggest sporting events in the world.
It is a dream come true, to be a UFC fighter and fighting in places like Rio and Sydney, where I fought in February, and get media attention and meet people who are fans of what I do.
I used to work nine-to-five on a building site, hard manual work, sometimes in the freezing cold weather and I think that makes me appreciate my job as a UFC fighter.
I am a normal guy - a bricklayer from Sunderland by trade, and I appreciate just how lucky I’ve been to do as a career something that I would gladly do as a hobby.
I think I appreciate this more than some other fighters. Some of them have had financial backing from the start and didn’t have to work nine-to-five before they got to the UFC.
I hit a speedbump in my career about a year ago, when I lost a fight to a fighter named Cole Miller. But winning this fight, against a top 10 guy like Barboza, who I have a lot of respect for, will put me really on the map in the lightweight division.
I’m going to put a lot of pressure on him. He likes to fight like I do.
He’s great at leg kicks, but he’s not doing that to me.
Check out my fight at UFC 134 on ESPN this Saturday - support me in beating a guy in his home town and coming back to Sunderland a winner.
Thanks for reading!
CLICK HERE to see Ross’s official UFC profile.