Meet Tyson Pedro: West Sydney’s Man In UFC Fight Night 101

“There’s nothing quite like it. I just enjoy it. I really block everything out, especially when I’m in the cage. I can’t hear anything except my corner,” says West Sydney's Mixed Martial Arts force, Tyson Pedro, ahead of his fight at Rod Laver Arena.

21 November 2016, 11:00pm

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Steven 'Warzone' Warby was one of the most respected fighters and feared knockout artists in New Zealand when he turned out against 23 year old Tyson Pedro at Australian Fighting Championship 17 last month. At five years his junior, with only three fights to Warby's 7-1 record, the fight seemed a formality on paper.

So when Pedro had the feared striker on the ground in a rear-naked chokehold within the first round, forcing a tap out, the fight world was shocked. On face value the win signalled a major step-up for the light heavyweight, Pedro, but he had his sights set even higher. Moments after he was awarded victory, he used the stage to send a message to UFC President, Dana White.

"They've got a show in November and if someone pulls out at light heavyweight, I'm there," Pedro said.

"I've been training hard and I'm ready to go Dana (White)."

The message was heard. When former American middleweight champ, Luke Rockhold was forced to withdraw from this weekend's UFC Fight Night 101 at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, a reshuffle of the fight cards opened up a slot and Pedro got his wish. He would have only three weeks to prepare but there was never any doubt he would take the fight.

"They told me I had a fight in three weeks and do I want it? When someone calls up with an opportunity like this you don't say no. Wouldn't have mattered who the opponent was," he told Fox Sports during a television interview recently.

Pedro will face American southpaw, Khalil Rountree whose "freakish" power has led him to record of 5-1. If that seems like a big ask, it's worth considering that hand to hand combat runs in Tyson Pedro's blood. His father John Pedro is an Australian MMA legend. He is credited by many as the man who brought the sport to Australia, having fought in the country's first ever cage match before going on to train the likes of UFC great, James Te Huna, among others.

Pedro introduced Tyson to Japanese jujitsu as a four year old. From there he progressed to amateur boxing, Brazilian jujitsu, and finally MMA, where he currently holds a record of 4-1. With John Pedro as a father and James Te Huna as a mentor, Tyson Pedro was always on a fast track to greatness.

"Training with high level guys like James Te huna, Anthony Ross, Tai Tuivasa gives you a lot of confidence, knowing you're banging with people who've been on the big stage," he told Fox.

At just 23 years old, 6'3 and 93 kilograms, the signs of Pedro's mental toughness can be seen written all over him. The traditional Samoan Pe'a tattoo running from his thighs to his waist is the product of a famously agonising procedure in which a set of handmade tools including pieces of bone, turtle shell, and wood are used, sometimes over series of weeks, to ink the skin. It's little wonder then what he's capable of in the gym.

"He sets the bar in everything, whether it's our cardio sprints, wrestling, jiu jitsu... he does a proper warm up by himself before our team warm-up and he's always doing the one percent things and in sparring and fighting it's the exact same thing," his coach, Shaun Sullivan told the Herald Sun.

Whatever fire power his opponent Khalil Rountree brings to UFC 101, he will have to overcome a 23 year old for whom fighting has been a way of life. And for whom the cage is a second home.

"It's just another fight, just another day in the office," says Pedro.

"There's nothing quite like it. I just enjoy it. I really block everything out, especially when I'm in the cage. I can't hear anything except my corner."

The withdrawal of Luke Rockhold sees fellow West Sydney MMA product, Robert Whittaker move up to the headline bout where he will take on the number eight ranked American, Derek Brunson.