It has been a busy past year for Eternal MMA Flyweight champion, Shannon Ross (6-0 at Flyweight, 12-4 overall). Soon after capturing the title at Eternal MMA 42 in March 2019, he and his partner welcomed a baby into the world. While the life-changing event put his Mixed Martial Arts career on a temporary hold, the fighter known as “Turkish Delight” is very eager to get back into the cage after such a long lay-off. He will do so this Saturday night (7 March) when he defends his Flyweight title at Eternal MMA 52 on the Gold Coast.
‘I had a bit of time off last year. I had a new baby not long after the fight so I had to do a bit of the family thing and help out at home and prioritise there. Now the baby’s a bit older we’re good to get back in there and keep chipping away’, Ross excitedly told.
He will face a hungry challenger in Perth’s Steve “Astroboy” Erceg (5-1), who has finished 4 of his 5 wins as a professional and is currently on a 3-fight win streak. Despite being the more experienced fighter with 10 more bouts than his opponent, it is a fight that Ross is not taking lightly.
‘He’s pretty well-rounded. I don’t take anyone easy because for me it’s more about winning and keeping proving that I belong… I’ve taken this camp very seriously and I can’t wait to get in there and mix it up’, he said.
While the fight will take place for the Eternal MMA title, there is an added incentive involved. The contest will also be an opportunity for Ross to cement his place as the number 1 ranked Flyweight fighter in the Australia/New Zealand region.
‘I’m excited to defend my title and solidify my spot at number 1 of the Australian-New Zealand Flyweights and keep that ball rollin”, he said.
Indeed, opportunity is a buzzword going into fight week. With Eternal MMA now being able to showcase the best fighters in the region on UFC Fight Pass, there is potential for many new fans across the world to see Ross fight for the very first time. Adding to this is the timing of the event.
Recently it was announced that the UFC will be returning to Australia with UFC 251 set to take place in Perth on June 7. If the rumored re-match between Featherweight champion Alex Volkanovski and Max Holloway takes place at the event, as well as the confirmed Women’s Flyweight title fight between Valentina Schevchenko and Joanne Calderwood, then all eyes within the Mixed Martial Arts world will be on the card.
Given the state of re-build that the Flyweight division currently finds itself in, it would be hard to deny Ross – a proven finisher, a spot on the UFC roster should he improve to 7 and 0 in the weight class on Saturday night. None of this is occupying space in his mind though, and his focus remains on continuing to evolve as a fighter and perform in each fight that comes his way.
‘First-thing’s-first is this Saturday night, the weight cut this week and get in there and perform, put on a show like I always do and come home with a new belt’, Ross told.
‘I’m trying to go out there and perform how I perform and win. Then if something comes from it – perfect! If we need to get back in there and have another fight, that’s just what it’s going to be.’
Proving his evolution as a fighter is high on the Shannon Ross’ agenda and come Saturday night, he will be looking to put on a performance that outshines his last – a fight with Paul Loga that was really a showcase of his dynamic striking and ability to fight as both a southpaw and in the orthodox stance. Indeed, you can be sure that switching stances will be something we see from Ross this weekend.
‘I think the different looks and the different things I can do from both positions – I’m super comfortable in both stances, so it gives me a lot more options and it gives them a lot more things to think about’, he said.
‘We’ll push the pace and show him lots of stuff that he has to worry about and when the time’s there we’ll take the finish or smash through all 5 rounds.’
None of this is to suggest that Ross is not aware of the position that his hard work and dedication to the sport has put him in, however. Should a call come from the UFC following a win on Saturday, he will be ready and will take any opportunity thrown his way with both hands.
‘With the June card not too long around the corner, if they need me I’ll just go straight back into camp and get ready’, he said.
‘I’d like to say that at 6 and 0 at Flyweight, that winning this fight and performing and fighting how I always fight will open up some doors. I would love that, I would love this fight to do that for me.’
All of this would suggest a high amount of pressure – A chance to solidify the position of number 1 fighter in the region, a fight on UFC Fight Pass and a spot in the UFC seemingly around the corner, but “Turkish Delight” is remaining calm. He will be going out to do what he always does. Put on a show for the fans.
‘I just fight how I fight. Obviously anyone who’s ever watched me fight knows that every single fight is exciting and fast-paced and it gets crazy’, Ross said.
‘Look where I’m at – there’s 3 title fights (at Eternal MMA 52). I’m a Flyweight and I’m above a Featherweight and a Lightweight. I think that speaks in itself to the style and how fan-friendly I am.
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‘That’s how I love to fight. I don’t like to fight as a point fighter or just controlling positions and stealing rounds. The whole reason I fight is to fight, to perform and dominate and get those finishes. I think finishes is what fighting should be really.’
If all of this does not have Australian Mixed Martial Arts enthusiasts and Fight Pass subscribers sold on why they should be watching Eternal MMA 52 this weekend, Ross concluded with a number of reasons to tune in – ‘Fans can expect explosive, dynamic, controlled aggression and looking for finishes everywhere it goes.’
Follow Shannon Ross on Social Media: @RealTdelight on Twitter and @therealtdelight on Instagram.
Eternal MMA 52 takes place on Saturday, March 7 and can be viewed on UFC Fight Pass.