When Tyson Pedro got the call up to the UFC, he couldn’t quite believe his luck.
While most fighters compile double digit fight records before even being noticed by the world’s premier promotion, Pedro got the call up after only four professional fights.
“I like to say the joke that I was probably the least qualified behind CM Punk when I got into the UFC,” Pedro laughed.
Despite questions surrounding weather he had the experience to compete in the UFC, Pedro grabbed the opportunity and ran with it. He quickly silenced the critics, finishing his first two UFC opponents in the first round.
“It was a quick rise because of that. People saying that I shouldn’t have had the contract and then I got the two wins, there’s not much you can say after that,” Pedro said.
“That’s why I think a lot of people kind of pulled back and got behind me and supported me. But I knew I was supposed to be there.”
A martial artist his entire life, Pedro’s martial arts journey started when he was a child adopting Japanese jiu-jitsu and kempo karate before moving on to Brazilian jiu-jitsu and amateur boxing.
“I think that’s the difference. Even though I only had had four fights when I got into the UFC, I had been fighting for seventeen years so I believed in myself and I came in and showed it.”
The two wins inside the Octagon saw Pedro’s record improve to 6-0 with six first-round victories. The impressive record catapulted Pedro into the top fifteen of the UFC’s light-heavyweight rankings.
With the quick rise, Pedro was given the task of fighting a top ten ranked opponent in Ilir Latifi.
Latifi was Nine years Pedro’s senior and with twelve more professional fights, Pedro was being thrown in the deep end.
The fight did not go Pedro’s way and he suffered his first career defeat.
Despite the loss, Pedro did not run or shy away from what happened, instead, he took it on the chin and wanted to move forward.
“I pretty much walked out and I was ready to fight again straight away,” Pedro said.
“You can’t get too caught up on losses, we take losses every day in life and not just in fighting. How you deal with it I think shows your true character. The same way I win is the same way I lose, I don’t jump around when I win, my Dad has always taught me that and that’s because of martial arts.”
Pedro insists that he learned from mistakes he made and took homage from the fact he could go three rounds with such an experienced opponent.
“I learned so much from it, it’s the most I’ve fought time wise with all my fights combined, so just getting in that ring time was good in itself,” Pedro said.
“The biggest thing was I concentrated more on Latifi strengths more than my own in the fight camp. I was so caught up on him being such a good wrestler and how am I going to get up, rather than that I can take this dude down and I can stay on top. I think that now that I’ve gone back to that, I will be a very different fighter this time.”
While Pedro has trained at Jackson-Wink in Albuquerque in the past, sponsorship fall outs have meant he remained at home for this camp, which included spending time at Gracie Smeaton Grange with middleweight champion Robert Whittaker before his illness.
With a newfound concentration to focus on his own strengths rather than that of his opponent, Pedro says that he has spent little time worrying about who he is fighting this weekend at UFC 221 in Perth.
“I don’t want to get too caught up in who I am fighting and freak out if he doesn’t turn up, so I just concentrate on making sure I am the best fighter that I can be on the day and bring my game and implement it.”
For a fighter who was not even in the UFC a year and a half ago, a lot has taken place.
Pedro has quickly risen through the ranks, suffered his first career defeat and will now feature on a pay-per-view card alongside his brother in law, Tai Tuivasa.
“Man, it’s so surreal and I am just so happy at the same time.
“Tai and I fought on AFC together, we’ve grown up together, two kids from out west, not only in the biggest fight promotion but now on a pay-per-view. Man, I think we are just showing what Australia is capable of and I’m so excited to go out there and put on a show.”
My earliest combat sports memory is watching David Tua knock people out with his left hook. I am extremely passionate about combat sports in Australia and my home country of New Zealand and I endeavour to grow the profile of martial arts and its athletes in both countries. Persistent Brazilian jiu-jitsu battler.