As Ross ‘The Real Deal’ Pearson (10-3) prepares to step into the cage for his first fight as a full fledged member of the UFC roster at UFC 105 in Manchester, England, he took a break from sparring to speak with MMA Spot about his fight with Aaron Riley and his career. The most recent Ultimate Fighter knows he has the pressure of not only living up to the standards of a "TUF" champion, but also helping to carry the flag for England’s growing MMA presence.
This humble, yet ferocious, lightweight got his start in the professional ranks by dominating England's MMA scene until he received the call to audition for Spike TV's "The Ultimate Fighter" reality show. He would earn his way into the house by winning his audition in front of UFC President Dana White and Team U.K. coach-to-be Michael Bisping.
Once on the show and in the house, Ross had the opportunity to show the world his likable personality and the traits that would eventually take him to the finals of the tournament, defeating Richie Whitson (arm bar) and UFC veteran Jason Dent (unanimous decision). In the tournament, he faced off against friend and fellow U.K. teammate Andre Winner. After three grueling rounds, Pearson was awarded the decision and was crowned "The Ultimate Fighter: U.S. vs U.K." lightweight champion.
How is training coming for your up coming fight at UFC 105?
Training is going awesome. I’m training three days a week down at Rough House, and they are helping me out a lot in all areas of my game. When I’m home I’m at the Unity gym with my Muay Thai coach and Olympian Boxing gym for pads and sparing. I also have Barry Gibson at Grapple Fit who has me in the best shape of my life!
What does it mean to be fighting at home for this fight?
It’s awesome to fight at home. But to me, I just love competing, so wherever the UFC puts me to fight, I will be very happy.
What all has changed for you since winning "The Ultimate Fighter" and signing with UFC?
My life has completely changed since winning TUF. A lot of people recognize me now in the street. Also my training is a lot more professional and I train much smarter.
Who do you idolize in the sport? Is there anyone you try to model yourself after?
Randy Couture is my hero; he is a legend. I can’t wait to meet him at UFC 105, that will be awesome to fight on the same bill as him.
Some past TUF winners appear to have been “eased” into the UFC ranks. Do you want to be thrown in against the best, or do feel that you’d like to take your time getting to the top?
I think Aaron is a very tough first test for me. He has had a lot of fights with some tough fighters. I don’t want to be put in there and guided, I want to make my own path in the UFC and win all my fights. Whoever the UFC puts in front of me, I will be happy to fight.
MMA in the U.K. has boomed in the past year or so, do you see guys like yourself, Dan Hardy, Paul Daley, and Michael Bisping at the forefront of this progression?
Yes, definitely. There are some very good fighters from the U.K. I think now that the UFC puts shows on in the U.K. fighters can see a way of making it to the big shows, so a lot more fighters are taking the sport more serious.
Full interview: MMA Spot