Ross Pearson was the winner of Season 9 of "The Ultimate Fighter," but that doesn't mean he's got a job for life with the UFC or even the rest of 2011 for that matter.
The UFC has a short leash when it comes to TUF alums and it has no problem sending a guy to minors if his performances aren't up to snuff. That's pressure. It's even worse for lightweights because the promotion just added a slew of 155ers from the WEC.
The Telegraph's Gareth Davies says the UFC has 68 lightweights under contract and is looking to get the number down to 30. If that's the case, it essentially sets up a single elimination lightweight tourney for much of 2011. It might begin tomorrow with Pearson taking on UFC vet Spencer Fisher at UFC 127.
Watch UFC 127 right here on Yahoo! Sports.
Pearson lost his last fight against Cole Miller while Fisher is 1-2 since Oct. of 2009. Pearson is a good prospect and Fisher has been a great card filler with 15 fights for the UFC. Both should be safe, but you never know. That's why Pearson isn't willing to risk it with a lackluster effort.
"He’s a tough veteran, been around a while, there are no surprises with what he’ll bring, he’s at the age where he is in the final assault in his career - I’m not saying I’ll finish his career by that – coming to the final surge," Pearson said. "I want to make him miss, and make him pay,"
Fisher (24-6, 9-5 UFC) looked outstanding in a win over Aaron Riley. That was a dominant second round stoppage, he wants more this time against the 34-year-old Fisher.
"I like a guy who comes out to fight, applies pressure, it suits my style," Pearson told The Telegraph U.K. "He’s similar in a sense to Aaron Riley – they looked a mirror image of each other when they fought – and I have a similar game plan, but I’ll be using different angles against Spencer."
Pearson (11-4, 3-1 UFC) is not only coming back from his first loss in the UFC, it's his first fight back after knee surgery. Arthroscopic surgery repaired a torn ligament repaired and cleaned bone chips from his knee.
Fellow Brit Paul Kelly, another lightweight, was cut after a loss to Donald Cerrone at UFC 126. Kelly was a respectable 5-4 with the promotion. It's likely he could be brought back as a filler in one-fight spots, especially for upcoming European UFC cards, but for now he's looking to fight his way back onto the big shows.
Fisher and Pearson square off on ION. The 9 p.m. ET broadcast also includes the Alexander Gustafsson-James Te Huna and Riki Fukuda-Nick Ring fights. That follows the telecast of two more preliminary fights on UFC's Facebook page.