There are several exciting fights on this weekend’s UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs Khabilov card, and one bout that has plenty of “Fight of the Night” potential is a lightweight clash between Ross Pearson (15-6-1, 7-3-1 UFC) and Diego Sanchez (24-7, 13-7 UFC). And while Diego Sanchez often brings a certain level of grit, intensity and toughness that few other fighters can, Ross Pearson is certainly not afraid.
“I’m actually excited about it. I respect Diego as a fighter, what he’s done and how he’s made a name for himself,” Pearson recently told BJPenn.com radio. “That’s the hardest way to become a fighter and to be known as a fighter. He’s been through wars time and time again, and he’s pushed his body through what many people would break [under]. I respect that about him, he’s a warrior, he always comes to fight, there’s no back down in him,” he said. “I’m interested in seeing how I’m going to handle the intensity, the pressure, from Diego. I’m excited about going in there and showing my skills against him. I believe that I’m far more technical than Diego, and that I’m a smarter fighter than Diego. I don’t get hit too much, I move a lot, I use a lot of angles, I don’t just stay in the pocket and throw, and use my head as a shield, and that’s what Diego does.”
Pearson has become a grizzled veteran of the sport, amassing 22 pro fights across 5 different countries and multiple weight classes. Both his time in the sport and his recent time out of the sport due to surgery have afforded Pearson the wisdom to train smart for this fight. Instead of focusing so much on sparring hard in the gym, Pearson believes that the key is to show up ready to fight hard on fight night.
“I’m sick of having my best rounds of sparring and fighting in the gym. I’m realizing now that I don’t get paid for being a gym hero. I don’t get paid to work out in the gym, I get paid for the 15 minutes or 25 minutes of the fight in the UFC, and that’s when I need to be at my best,” he said. “I don’t need to be going into the gym every day fighting, proving that I’m the best in the gym. When you’re the best inside the gym it doesn’t count. It only counts on your record in front of millions of people around the world inside of the octagon. When you’re younger, you want to impress, you want to show everyone that you’re the man, but you’re only showing the people inside of the four walls of the gym.”
Pearson acknowledges that he’ll be fighting on Sanchez’s home turf, but believes that he can use the opportunity to produce a great fight and an impressive win.
“I know Diego is going to come out fighting in his home town…so there is going to be a massive amount of energy there for him, but I’m coming to steal the show. I haven’t traveled all of this way, trained as hard as I have, just to come and lay down. That’s the thing about me, I’m just as tough as Diego.”