STOCKHOLM – As bad as things got on the week of UFC on FUEL TV 9, they couldn’t have gotten worse: The event nearly lost its co-headliner just hours before it was set to begin.
Ross Pearson (15-6 MMA, 7-3 UFC), who eventually knocked out fellow lightweight Ryan Couture (6-2 MMA, 0-1 UFC) in Saturday’s FUEL TV-televised co-main event, began warming up backstage at Stockholm’s Ericsson Globe Arena and instantly knew there was trouble.
“I think I broke my foot in the back warming up,” he said after the fight. “The very first kick I threw hit the pad and then hit coach Eric Del Fierro’s elbow, and I was like, ‘Oh, what kind of night is this going to be?’”
Despite the bum foot, it actually turned out to be a pretty productive night for the British fighter, who’s now posted back-to-back knockout wins since his return to the lightweight division after a stint at featherweight.
A late scratch from Pearson could have gutted an event that saw the loss of would-be headliner Alexander Gustafsson earlier in the week. UFC officials soldiered on with a Gegard Mousasi vs. Ilir Latifi headliner, but Pearson, who has a big following in Europe, would have further diminished the card’s remaining star power.
Pearson’s winning performance, which saw him finally stop the surprisingly resilient underdog Couture in the second round, also didn’t go unnoticed by his boss. Fighting through an injury – something White said he didn’t know about until after the fight – earned him some praise.
And the fact Pearson did it against Couture, who survived and narrowly edged boxer K.J. Noons in his previous bout under the Strikeforce banner, made it all the more impressive.
“He breaks his foot in the back, doesn’t tell anybody, goes out and fights and ends up knocking out Ryan Couture, which K.J. Noons hit him with some big shots in that last fight and didn’t knock him out,” White said. “So, much respect to him.”
“… He was chasing him around, and he was trying to cut off the ring. Now, especially that I know he had a broken foot, trying to cut off the ring, getting out of the clinch and battling it and then finally caught him – and like I said, Ryan Couture has an awesome chin.”
For complete coverage of UFC on FUEL TV 9, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.