Ross Pearson is an interesting case in regards to the pros and cons of dropping divisions in the UFC. While most fans and fighters believe that it's almost always beneficial to be in the lowest weight class possible, that's not the way it worked out for The Ultimate Fighter 9 winner in reality. His return to lightweight has been going well so far, and he faces off with Ryan Couture on the main card of UFC on Fuel 9 this weekend in Sweden. He joined The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to talk about Couture, the aborted division change, and much more.
First off, he doesn't believe Couture is on his level:
"I definitely feel he's going to come in prepared, I definitely think it's going to be the best Ryan Couture we've seen, but no, I don't think he’s on my level. I don't think he’s fought the level of competition I've fought. I don't think he's been fighting UFC-caliber guys forever, really, so no, I don't think he’s on my level. If things go to plan he won't last very long in there with me.
I'm not taking him lightly. I'm not overlooking anything. I'm preparing for a tough fight. I know Ryan's durable. I know Ryan can take a shot, and I know Ryan's game. So he brings some threats to the table. I just got to be on my A-game, sharp, strong. Knowing how powerful I hit and how fit and strong I am and letting him know how much I want to fight. I've got to own this fight and I've got to perform well, show him what the UFC is all about."
He then moved onto his two-fight experiment at featherweight. He said that he hated it so much that it took away his love of the sport. Strict dieting and other things led to what he felt was a decreased capacity to absorb strikes. He just prefers 155:
"I knew at 145 I couldn't be the best Ross Pearson. I'm much happier at 155. My weight and diet, everything's perfect. I train right up to the fight. I could lift pre-camp, and being healthy, it's just a much more natural weight for me. I'll be turning up to fights 100 percent."
With all the uncertainty surrounding the main event bout between Alexander Gustafsson and Gegard Mousasi, I really hope that the event goes forward as scheduled because I'm excited to see Pearson fight Couture. And I'm sure a lot of other people are as well.