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MMA For Real Exclusive Interview with TUF Season 9 Winner Ross "The Real Deal" Pearson!

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Ross "The Real Deal" Pearson (9-3) has waited a long time for this moment. On Saturday night, November 14th, Pearson will step into the Octagon in front of over 10,000 of his fellow countrymen and millions watching throughout Europe and on SPIKE TV in the United States. This 25-year-old fighter from Sunderland, England is best known for beating out seven other talented lightweight competitors to win the 155 pound bracket of The Ultimate Fighter Season 9. Pearson, a former bricklayer, had never fought outside of the U.K. prior to flying out to Nevada to compete on The Ultimate Fighter. But his time in Las Vegas opened up a lot of opportunities for him. And he cashed in on them, defeating fellow countryman Andre Winner by decision in the finals. And now, with MMA beginning to make some noise on the U.K. sports scene, things have come full circle as Pearson will be listed as one of the premier names on the UFC 105 card in his homeland. Pearson won over a lot of American fans because of his heart and blue collar approach to fighting and hopes to win over more with a strong showing against veteran Aaron Riley next month:

Rich Wyatt: I've heard that you've studied a diverse group of disciplines, including amateur boxing. Tell us a little about your training background and some of the combat styles that you've trained in during your days of preparing to become a pro fighter.

Ross Pearson: I started training martial arts when I was 6-years-old. I started in Taekwondo and eventually received my black belt. Then I moved on into Judo, where I reached a brown belt. Then I started amateur boxing at about 13-years-old and I had 12 bouts.

Rich Wyatt: Where do you currently train and who are some of your coaches and teammates?

Ross Pearson: I train in Sunderland, England at the Unity Gym, which is my Thai boxing gym. Nick Hands is my Thai coach. I train at Spartan MMA Gym and I also train at Grapple Fit and Barry Gibson is my Strength and Conditioning coach. But I fight out of the Rough House Gym in Nottingham where fighters such as Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy, Paul Daley, Andre Winner, Jimmy Wallhead and Dean Amasinger fight out of. It's a great place to train and fight out of.

Rich Wyatt: The U.K. seems to have increasingly embraced MMA as part of its sporting landscape. Although the sport still runs into opposition, there is undoubtedly a growing market that has allowed the UFC to come in and sell out arenas. Having been a part of the MMA scene in England for the past five years, what's your perspective on the sport's growing popularity in your homeland?

Ross Pearson: It's awesome to see the sport grow so big and to see what it has come from. And I'm pleased to say that I can be a part of the sport growing.

Rich Wyatt: Being that you're an alumnus of The Ultimate Fighter I've got to ask you about the experience. Obviously, doing the show was a great move for your career as it gave you a chance to showcase your skill on a big stage and also get some excellent coaching and sparring. But how difficult was it being in that house every day, far away from home, for several weeks?

Ross Pearson: To be honest, I loved it. I really enjoyed it. I got to do what I've been wanting to do all my life and fulfill a dream of competing in the UFC.  It was hard at times when you couldn't speak to friends or family, but I'm glad everyone from Team UK got on so well and made my time in the house so much easier.

More after the jump:

Rich Wyatt: Your coach on The Ultimate Fighter, Michael Bisping, appeared to do a great job with your team. This was apparent not only by your team's success (with the U.K. winning in both weight classes), but also by the closeness that your team displayed in training and around fight time. What was it like training with and being coached by, Michael Bisping?

Ross Pearson: Mike did a great job on the show. He put 100% into Team UK and really helped us all out a lot. Also, Dave (Jackson) and Mario (Sukata) were great coaches and they, too, helped us out greatly. To train with Mike was a real learning curve for me. Not only did he show us technique, he showed us how to train properly and what it takes to get where he has.

Rich Wyatt: Back in July, Bisping stepped into the cage with his rival coach from Season 9: middleweight legend and former PRIDE champion Dan Henderson. Bisping was knocked out in the second round of that fight, suffering the first such setback in his career. Knowing Michael pretty well, do you expect him to be able to put that fight behind him and come in focused against Denis Kang at UFC 105?

Ross Pearson: Yeah. From what I know of Mike, he will be back better than ever. I'm sure of it. He trains very hard and is very dedicated to his career

Rich Wyatt: How important is it for you to stay active? Do you prefer to fight at least a few times a year?

Ross Pearson: Yeah, I really want to stay as active as I can. I really enjoy competing so if my body will let me, I want to be fighting as much as possible.

Rich Wyatt: Your opponent at UFC will be 28-year-old veteran lightweight Aaron Riley (28-11-1), who has wins in both Pride and the UFC. What do you know about Aaron and what can fans expect to see from you on fight night?

Ross Pearson: I know that Aaron is a very tough competitor. He is very experienced in the sport. I think that our styles match up for this to be a very explosive and fast paced fight. On that night fans will see a bigger, faster, fitter Ross Pearson.

Rich Wyatt: You came up fighting on the U.K. scene and developed a lot there as a fighter well before coming to the States for The Ultimate Fighter. What does it mean for you to be able to return home and walk into that arena on November 14th and get to perform in front of your fellow countrymen?

Ross Pearson: To perform in front of my home fans, friends and family is amazing. I'm so excited and can't wait to walk out. I love fighting with home support. What fighter doesn't? But I'm especially excited with this being my first fight since having been on The Ultimate Fighter.

Rich Wyatt: Thanks for taking the time talk with MMA For Real. And best of luck on November 14th. Is there anything that you'd like to say, in closing, to your fans and/or sponsors?

Ross Pearson: Thank you. I would like to thank everyone that has helped me for this fight: The Rough House lads, Barry Gibson, Nick Hands, Nigel Scope and Sean Casey. I would also like to thank Tokyo Five ( and The Fight Mafia ( for sponsoring me for UFC 105.



MMA For Real thanks Ross Pearson for taking the time to talk with us and we wish him the best in his upcoming fights.