STOCKHOLM – Ross Pearson is at home again. And no, he’s not fighting in England.
After dropping two of three fights over about a yearlong stretch, Pearson decided to drop from lightweight to featherweight. And his debut was a successful one – a decision win over Junior Assuncao at UFC 141.
But after a TKO loss to Cub Swanson this past June, Pearson had the answer he probably knew all along. Featherweight wasn’t the place for him. He’s a lightweight, and that’s where he belongs, he decided.
“The difference between me at 155 is I’m 100 percent ready to fight, and 145 I’m probably not even 60 percent,” Pearson on Wednesday told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) in Sweden. “For my style, the way I fight, it just didn’t work out. I wasn’t comfortable there, I didn’t enjoy it, and for me, the love of the sport and passion for the sport, I’ve got to enjoy it and like being in a fight. At that weight, because I wasn’t fully recovered and I had worked so hard to just maintain my weight and drop that much, it ruined it.
“I tried it, it didn’t work out, and move on. It’s a part of my career I’ll look back on and think, ‘I was stupid,’ and, ‘Why did I do that?’ But you make mistakes, you learn from them and get better. Look where I’m at now.”
Where Pearson (14-6 MMA, 6-3 UFC) is a fight against Ryan Couture (6-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) on the main card of UFC on FUEL TV 9, which takes place Saturday at Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm. The main card airs on FUEL TV following prelims on Facebook.
And where he is now is coming off perhaps the most impressive performance of his career, a third-round knockout of George Sotiropoulos in the December main event of UFC on FX 6 in Australia. After coaching against the Aussie on the first season of “TUF: Australia vs. U.K.,” Pearson put him down for the count in front of his home fans. It was his first stoppage win in the UFC since UFC 105 – his most recent outing in his home country – in November 2009.
Against Sotiropoulos, there was plenty of disdain that spilled over from their coaching stints on the show. The two became fairly heated rivals, and quickly. But he doesn’t have any such hatred toward Couture. In fact, after growing up Couture’s father, UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture, it’s been perhaps an interesting fight camp in contrast to the Sotiropoulos fight.
“Just looking at him, it kind of looks like I’m fighting his dad,” Pearson said. “They look very similar and have a similar style. I’m a huge fan of his dad. My first (non-’TUF’) fight in the UFC was UFC 105 in Manchester, and Randy Couture headlined that event against Brandon Vera. I took a picture that I had on my bedroom wall and Randy signed it. Just standing up there squaring off and seeing how much he looks like Randy, I was like, ‘S—. This is me fighting Randy Couture,’ and I’m excited now. Let’s fight now.”
But even though he’ll fight with a lot less anger this time than he did in December, Pearson is comfortable with where his head is at going into Saturday’s fight. And though it’s Couture’s UFC debut after a solid 6-1 run in Strikeforce, a win for Pearson over a name like the junior Couture would go a long way toward putting him right back in the thick of things in a crowded lightweight division.
“There’s obviously not the animosity between me and Ryan as I had with George,” he said. “But I definitely feel in the same place – mentally focused, head in the game, know what I’m doing, confident about what I’m doing, and just knowing that I prepared right. … My last fight, it helped me out a lot. It got me fired up and got my aggression up, made me angry and made me want to throw every punch to hurt him. But this fight, it’s all about skill. People know about my punching power and my striking skills. I need to put it all together now and show the improvement in my skill level.”
For more on UFC on FUEL TV 9, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.