Resilience has become a mantra for Queensland’s Shannon Ross. After a horror start to 2020 that saw him lose his Eternal MMA Flyweight title to Perth’s Steve Erceg in March, the fighter known as ‘Turkish Delight’ is only focused on moving forward and proving to fans that he is still a force at 125 pounds.
“We get back on the horse and keep going. Maybe a loss like that for some people would be the end of them,” Ross told Fight News Australia.
“I said straight after that fight that ‘I’m not going to let this one little moment say how my career’s going to go. I’ll just get straight back into training and get ready, take another fight and prove that I’m better than that night.’”
The opportunity for Ross to prove himself in the cage will come in Abu Dhabi at UAE Warriors 14 on November 27. Although it will be his nineteenth career fight, it will be his first fight on the International stage. This is surprising considering the stretch that Ross spent as the #1 ranked flyweight in the Australia and New Zealand region prior to the loss to Erceg. The long wait has only created excitement.
“I’m pretty excited to get out there on a big show and feel what it’s all about; the flying, the fight week, and that sort of jazz,” he said.
Getting to fight week has not been short of hurdles, however. Originally scheduled to fight Brazilian Isaac Pimentel at UAE Warriors in September, Ross was forced to withdraw through no fault of his own. Rather, the global impact of COVID-19 can be blamed for the bout cancellation.
“I was ready to go fight but they couldn’t get me home for six weeks, so I would’ve been stranded in Abu Dhabi,” he told.
“Obviously with a family and a mortgage and kids and other stuff where people rely on me, I can’t be international for six weeks and get back and then quarantine for another two weeks.
“MMA and the sponsorships in Australia aren’t crazy yet so there would obviously be my own holiday payout of my work money and my own savings to keep me afloat, in another country that I don’t know a whole lot about.
“You’re looking at nearly 9-10 weeks of being away, no pay – It’s a pretty expensive trip that one.”
On top of this, Ross’ first scheduled opponent for November 27 – Ukrainian Arsen Taigibov – was forced to withdraw from the fight for reasons undisclosed. The result of this has been a revolving door of opponents touted to fill the vacant spot.
“I’ve honestly had about ten different fighters in maybe the last four to five weeks,” Shannon told, giving insight into the match-making process in a post-COVID world.
“Taigibov was the one that got announced then pulled out. But before that there was four or five different names. It was like ‘this is going to be the guy, then he pulled out’, ‘this is going to be the guy and he got COVID’ and ‘this is going to be the guy, he can’t travel now because the borders are shut down.’”
All of this has not been a negative in Ross’ mind though. Instead, he has taken every possible positive out of the situation. Remember that word resilience?
“With the amount of different fights we’ve been given and athletes that I’ve had to start preparing for I think we’ve got a pretty good base,” he said.
“It’s been a crazy mixed run of opponents, but the way I look at it is it doesn’t really matter who I fight. I’ve gotta beat anyone who’s in front of me.
“I want to fight the best guys in the world on the biggest and best world stages. So, whoever they put in front of me I’ve gotta go smash.”
Taking the fight on short notice will be American, Donavon Frelow, who last fought on Dana White’s Contender Series against UFC bantamweight contender, Ricky Simon in 2017. Despite the long lay-off and lack of ideal preparation time for his opponent, Ross will not be looking past such a dangerous fighter.
“He’s a pretty scrappy, come forward sort of guy. He likes to pressure and throw,” he said.
“I think that’s how he will fight and with obviously not a long camp, he might be trying to press the pace and get it out of there quickly.
“I don’t know the guy personally, so I don’t know what he trains like when he doesn’t have fights – does he consistently train, is he in the gym – it’s hard to say.
“I just look at it as he has been training and he’s trying to evolve and get better as proper martial artists do. We’re always training, we don’t just take a fight and in five or six weeks, get ready.
“I just have to be super prepared for everything.”
With an opponent finally set, Shannon Ross will travel to Abu Dhabi with one goal in mind – a statement-making win. More importantly, he wants to achieve victory in the dominant fashion that we fight fans have become accustomed to.
“I’m really going out there to look for a finish. That’s how I fight all the time, but I’m going to press the pace, fight to my strengths and look to finish a tough guy,” Ross exclaimed.
“I want to show everyone that I’m still where I belong and take this opportunity with both hands, not let it slip.’
Follow Shannon “Turkish Delight” Ross on Social Media: @therealtdelight on Instagram
For Merchandise: https://cmbt.com.au/collections/products/products/shannon-ross-td-shirt
UAE Warriors 14 will air live on YouTube from 1 am AEDT on Saturday, November 28 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKTYJWWrmUk