Wolfslair standout Tom Blackledge is on the cusp of his UFC debut, fit, healthy and ready to go… unlike UFC 120 where an injury forced him out of a home-soil trial by fire against James McSweeney.
If the name remains unknown to Stateside fans, and even fans down under, the face will soon be familiar, as Blackledge was one of Team Rampage’s coaches during Season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter. But this is his chance to make a big impression and show the world what he’s got as a fighter.
“It’s very exciting and a huge honor to get the opportunity to be able to fight in Australia, even if the fans there won’t be too happy with me after the fight.”
The import fighter clashing with a hometown hero is a story that’s been played out many times on fight cards throughout the world, but in Blackledge’s case, it’s against Antony Perosh, the gutsy Aussie fighter who stepped into the breach against Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic last time the UFC went down under.
“He’s a tough guy with good cardio,” Blackledge said of Perosh.
“I think his biggest strength is in his grappling ability, and his weakness is in his striking, although, I haven’t felt the need to work on any specifics in preparation for this fight (just a complete MMA game).”
Blackledge is well-rounded and his record is punctuated by highlight-reel head kick KO’s and TKO’s, but he is also a consummate grappler having been a finalist in the Fila Submission Grappling series. So he doesn’t really care where the fight takes place.
“The quicker I can get it done the better. I want it be an exciting fight, but I think that I will finish it quickly. It’ll be entertaining for the fans while it happens though.
“Training has gone really well. The mood in camp is extremely good and everyone has been really happy. I have had my usual coaches Dave Jackson, Mario Sukata, Mark Kinney, and Barrie Edwards pushing me, but also all the other Wolfslair guys as well as Ricco Rodriguez, which was great.”
Coming into the fight with a 10-6 record, Blackledge feels that it is finally his time to shine. There are a lot of good fighters from the Wolfslair camp in the UFC, but with Rob Broughton at heavyweight and Michael Bisping at middleweight, he believes he is in the perfect place to build a name for himself in his own weight class.
“I think I have served my time. I’ve been around U.K. MMA from the start. Everything I have worked for has led me to here. There is nothing else that I ever wanted.
“The TUF experiences whet my appetite and because I have fought in Japan and Amsterdam, I felt some of that pressure that people always talk about. The pressure on fighters now is massive. It’s not an easy sport, but I always perform better when there is a bigger crowd. I have had to deal with nerves and fears before. There was a patch there in my career where it was a big problem for me, but that’s all gone now and I just want to show what I can do.”
At this weekend’s UFC 127 in Sydney, Australia, Tom Blackledge will get his wish. He will officially become a UFC fighter, achieving an ambition he has harbored since he started in the sport.