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Tyron Pedro is an easy-going, fun-loving member of the UFC light heavyweight division who has a smile on his face more often than not. He embraces that side of his personality but also knows when to switch gears into fight mode.
Pedro (6-1 MMA, 2-1 UFC), who meets Saparbek Safarov (8-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC) in Saturday’s UFC 221 main-card opener, will enter the event following the first defeat of his career. He admits his decision loss to Ilir Latifi at UFC 215 in September was the first time he couldn’t find that switch, and it cost him.
The Australian said he doesn’t foresee himself encountering the same problem again in his next outing against Safarov.
“People would be highly surprised at how seriously I take it,” Pedro told MMAjunkie. “I don’t take life seriously, but I take fighting seriously. When I’m joking, laughing and walking into the cage, that’s pretty much how I take life: Just a joke. As soon as I step in it’s game on; it’s kill mode. I think that’s one of the things I (expletive) up in my last fight. For some reason I didn’t switch on.”
UFC 221 takes place at Perth Arena in Perth, Western Australia. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FS1 and UFC Fight Pass.
What allows Pedro to remain so upbeat were the lessons learned from his loss. He said avoiding the flaws which allowed Latifi to get the better of him would have been a fatal mistake, so instead he dug in and searched for answers.
“People think when I say I’m not dwelling on it that I haven’t learned from my mistakes,” Pedro said. “I’ve watched that fight probably about 15, 20 times, just to see why I messed up my strategy and what were the things (I did wrong). There’s a couple things I needed to figure out.”
One of Pedro’s biggest discoveries in recent months is that his potential hasn’t fully translated into his performances. All of Pedro’s wins may be by first-round stoppage, but he’s yet to produce such a result against a top-tier opponent. He said that’s a goal going into UFC 221, and all his bouts beyond.
“For some reason I’m only bringing out like 60 percent of what I’m doing in training,” Pedro said. “My striking, the way my grappling to striking flows in training and wrestling. It’s not coming out in the cage, and I know that’s because I haven’t had many fights. Once what I’m doing in training comes out in that octagon, I’ll break out. I’m trying to do that every fight.”
Pedro believes he’s in a strong position to rebound at UFC 221. His opponent, Safarov, has been out of action for more than 14 months due to injury, and the Russian hasn’t won a fight in nearly two years. Safarov is dangerous, no doubt, but Pedro said the style matchup plays in his favor.
“I have a feeling he’s going to try to take my head off in the first,” Pedro said. “He takes a lot of punishment to give a lot of punishment, but I plan on giving out a lot of punishment. So, it’s not going to be a good night at the office for him.”
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