The sting from Ross Pearson’s last loss still has to hurt considering virtually everybody in the world scored him winning his fight in June except for the three judges sitting cage side, who inexplicably gave the victory to Diego Sanchez.
While controversial decisions are nothing new when it comes to mixed martial arts, this one was particularly mind-boggling because Pearson out struck, out worked and even dropped Sanchez during their fight and still somehow came up short when the decision was read.
So as Pearson prepares for his next fight this weekend at UFC Fight Night on FOX Sports 1 (10 p.m. ET), the wound from the loss to Sanchez is still open and he’d be lying if he said going to another decision isn’t a scary prospect especially after what happened the last time he stepped foot in the Octagon.
"It feels like a little bit of a risk factor leaving it to the judges," Pearson told FOX Sports. "It’s definitely a little bit sketchy. Coming out of that last fight with Diego, I was so confident that I won that fight and I felt 100 percent in my mind that nobody could believe I lost that fight. It was laughable.
He’s questioning himself and his ability to take a shot. Once you start questioning your own chin, then you’re on a slippery slope
— Ross Pearson on Gray Maynard
"I’m here to look for finishes. I look to finish fights and it’s definitely lit a spark under my ass to finish fights. To be a little bit more hungry to chase and press a little bit more."
Just over a week ago, Pearson looked like he was gearing up for a fire fight against heavy hitter Abel Trujillo, but his opponent suffered an injury in training and it forced him to drop out of the bout all together. In stepped former UFC lightweight contender Gray Maynard, who takes the fight following two consecutive knockout losses.
At one time, Maynard was considered one of the two best 155-pound fighters on the planet, but after almost nine rounds of hell going against former champion Frankie Edgar, his mind and body both took a lifetime of damage. One fight later he was bludgeoned by T.J Grant in a TKO loss before the same thing happened in his trilogy matchup against Nate Diaz last December.
Pearson sees Maynard’s recent shortcomings like a Christmas present with a big bow wrapped around it sitting under the tree just waiting for him to open it. The British banger is known for his boxing prowess and knockout power, and he’s positive that Maynard is very aware of that fact as well.
"I think he’s worried about that, too. He’s questioning himself and his ability to take a shot," Pearson said. "Will he be willing to stand and trade in there? I’m expecting Gray to push a heavy wrestling pace, try to slow me down, try to bully me against the fence. I think he’s going to try to rush me against the cage as fast as he can.
"Once you start questioning your own chin, then you’re on a slippery slope."
If Maynard is standing on shaky ground, Pearson is more than happy to push him over the edge.
The key for Pearson is to get the finish, but not look for the finish. He’s confident he’ll get the job done, but the moment he starts gunning for knockout shots is the exact time he leaves himself open for a counter from Maynard.
"Anyone I fight, if I touch them right, they go to sleep," Maynard said. "I’m definitely a big puncher for 155 pounds. The thing for me is not rushing it and not looking for the knockout. That will come. I know I’ve got the ability to land that shot.
"I’ve got to be patient. Whether I knock him out in the first minute or the 14th minute, it will come eventually."
There’s little doubt in Pearson’s head that he’ll come away the winner on Saturday night because he’s trained to win. It also doesn’t hurt matters that he’s not sure what Maynard last left in the tank, but whatever he’s got in reserves, Pearson plans on running him dry by the time their fight comes to an end.
"I think I’m more athletic, I think I’m sharper, I think I’m faster than Gray Maynard and I think I’ll expose his weakness with my range and my timing," Pearson said. "Gray’s been in there with some great opponents and he’s fought the best of the best, but I’m coming into my prime now and I’m ready to take people out."