Anthony Perosh is all geared up for UFC 138 in Birmingham, England, as much for the prospect of fighting Cyrille Diabaté as it marks his first overseas venture since rejoining the UFC in February last year.
Stepping up to the plate as a last-minute replacement at UFC 110 for a very sick Ben Rothwell – who dropped out of the contest with food poisoning – Perosh showed heart and determination in a bout that would end up getting stopped courtesy of a cut from Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. It was a tough pill to swallow, but he earned his place with the promotion and rebounded impressively with a decisive submission win over Wolfslair product Tom Blackledge.
“I feel competitive, strong, and fit as a light heavyweight. I was able to demonstrate that against Blackledge in my first match as a light heavyweight in the UFC,” explained the Antipodean, adding that he is looking forward to continuing his path in the division. In order to do that, he has to pass through tough the French striker.
“On paper, this is definitely a classic grappler/striker encounter, but who knows? I know he likes the straight left and uses combinations in his attack. He is a very accurate with his hands.”
Looking at their stylistic backgrounds, it would be easy to assume that Diabaté will be looking to finish with a knockout and Perosh with a submission, but in MMA anything can happen, and strategy is king.
“I know he is a top striker and a former Muay Thai world champion and I’m a world-class BJJ fighter, so obviously we both want to be able to impose our games first.
”I have done everything possible to get myself ready for this. I am strong, fit, and can push the pace for the full 15 minutes if needed. With the help of my team, we have developed a great strategy to win the match.”
Many fighters view the actual fight as a reward for months of hard graft in the gym, smashing each other about, dieting, grueling cardio sessions, and technical analysis. Despite a relatively small awareness of the sport in the mainstream public eye, the few Australians that are competing in the UFC are paving the way for a larger footprint overall in the country.
“You can find the UFC and MMA shows on cable TV every week and there are many local fight shows and local fighters coming up. My team consists of about 10 fighters who have had up to 10 fights each, and I think you will see a few of them in the UFC over the coming years.”
While many long-term fight fans will remember Elvis Sinosic for his exploits in the promotion, the task now falls on three fighters’ shoulders to show how far the country has progressed. Perosh feels that his camp is at the forefront of that progression.
“The best way to deal with any pressure is to train hard and make sure you are doing everything you can to be the best. George Sotiropoulos, Kyle Noke, and myself all do that well, and in my case it’s down to my team.”
Training out of his hometown in Sydney, Perosh counts Steve Rudic, the 2006 Super Heavyweight Boxing Commonwealth Games bronze medalist as his boxing coach, the aforementioned Elvis Sinosic, and all of his SPMA students as his main training partners. He also has a lot of support, a dietician, and conditioning coach to bring it all together.
While many fighters consider travelling to external gyms in order to prepare for a fight, Perosh is all about reinvesting his development and time back into his gym in order to keep it progressing. He has lofty goals and will continue to plug away will all his heart in the pursuit of his dream. He knows where the path is, all he has to do is to keep picking up the wins and earn his stripes.
“I want what every fighter in the UFC wants, and this is to become world champion,” said the 39-year-old. “If you look after yourself and you really want it, age isn’t an issue. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could be competitive and win.”