As the dust settles on a hectic weekend of fights across two continents we ask what next for our own Ross Pearson following defeat at UFC on FX? We also look forward to UFC Nottingham with British Bantamweight dynamo Brad Pickett….
Ross Pearson's aspirations were dashed on
I like many others closely follow Ross Pearson’s career for much the same reason I do this week’s interviewee Brad Pickett… I can identify with them. Leaving behind the building site and the tough confines of the North-East to make the trip stateside Pearson has applied himself well in his quest for a title in the world’s top MMA promotion. On Friday night against Cub Swanson however, Pearson’s aspirations to featherweight gold were clinically dashed. He was frequently beaten to the punch by the fleet footed Greg Jackson pupil. Swanson is on a roll at 145lbs and will provide a tough test for whichever contender Sean Shelby pits him against next. Pearson however can take a lot of positives from a solid, gutsy showing. He hasn’t become a bad fighter overnight and remains one of our best prospects to clinch a UFC strap. In a similar way to Rich Franklin, Pearson’s frame sits uncomfortably between two weight classes. The manner in which Swanson swarmed in and out of range will have alarmed him.
It is notoriously difficult to significantly increase speed in any sport. Muscle can be packed on, strategies refined and gas tanks expanded but the speed with which one can execute a double leg, a striking combination or perhaps most importantly offensive and evasive footwork is very difficult to markedly improve upon. There have been countless column inches devoted to Frankie Edgar’s mooted move to featherweight and Pearson’s second round defeat in New Jersey could exemplify the concerns held by “The Answer” in dropping down to challenge for Jose Aldo’s belt. Edgar’s patent advantage against Penn, Maynard and the overwhelming majority of lightweight campaigners is his speed of movement and footwork. Finding range and peppering the target that split second before his opponent is Edgar’s calling card. Edgar may believe that he would suffer a broadly similar fate to that which “The Real Deal” experienced at the weekend. The difference in speed between featherweight and lightweight is significant. Edgar famously competes at his walking around weight and his entire fighting philosophy is based around the premise that when the bright lights are on, he will be quicker to the draw than his 155lb adversary. For Pearson however all is not lost. Swanson was a tall order in only his second outing in the weight class. Pearson has the fighting intelligence to alter his in-Octagon approach and work on the aforementioned speed differential. My gut still says that he will be a success at 145lbs, the route to UFC gold will be just a little bit more scenic.
As the build-up continues towards UFC Nottingham in September we sat down this week with UK fan favourite Brad Pickett for an exclusive interview, where he talked about his preparations for the Las Vegas based promotions only trip to these shores in 2012.
To any of the uninitiated out there Brad Pickett is one of the most talented Englishmen in the fight game today. “One Punch” has paid his dues over the years and was welcomed into the UFC fold at UFC138 when he lost a bruising encounter with Renan Barao. As the UFC PR machine kicked into gear in recent weeks with its Nottingham event announcement Pickett’s name was one of the first to be confirmed as fighting on the bill and rightly so. On September 29th he will be locking horns with dangerous Canadian Yves Jabouin. Speaking candidly about his current state of mind following a hard fought victory in Sweden last time out, Pickett alluded to his disappointing defeat to interim title challenger Renan Barao in Birmingham.
“I’m just happy in my training right now and concentrating on evolving in between fights… with the fight announcement I have a date to focus on… losing of course as a fighter always brings you down, it was great to just get the victory in Stockholm and get back in the win column”
Any talk of title shots in what is a fluid and exciting bantamweight division was however immediately dismissed by the no nonsense former Cage Rage champion
“I’d be a fool to take this guy lightly. Whilst victory would of course leave me in an even better position in the division I’m not looking too far ahead and certainly not looking past this guy”
Currently walking around at 160lbs Pickett is embarking upon an international training camp.
“My training camp will basically be five weeks here in the UK at Team Titan and eight weeks at ATT… this guy has a flamboyant stand-up style and I’ve got some good training partners who can mimic his style…I will need to be careful as long as the fight goes, its going to be an exciting fight”
When asked about his thoughts on the Nottingham card he was unambiguous on welterweight star Dan Hardy’s face-off against former Ultimate Fighter winner Amir Sadollah
“I believe Dan will take this fight, it’s a good match-up for him. Sadollah is tough but Dan should have too much for him”
Pickett was effusive in his praise for Liverpudlian Paul Sass as it was confirmed that the submission specialist will meet Matt Wiman in a featured bout
“Sass is an exciting fighter. I think this is his toughest fight to date. Wiman is tried and tested and I will be very impressed if Sass can submit him”