The sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) may still be growing, but that hasn’t made it any easier to secure a roster spot with the world’s biggest MMA promotion.
While the Ultimate Fighting Championship is still moving towards more fight cards in more countries, they are still restricted by a certain number of fights every year, which in turn restricts the number of fighters they can have under contract.
It’s a reality that many up-and-coming fighters have to live with.
London, Ontario’s Jesse “The Body Snatcher” Ronson was living with it before he “got the call” he had long been waiting for.
“Obviously, my manager has been barking and hounding them for a long time about getting me there, “ Ronson said. “The circumstances are a little unfortunate … I don’t want anybody getting injured, but at the same time I’m really happy and grateful for the opportunity.”
Ronson is an injury replacement for fellow Ontario lightweight Mark Bocek at UFC 165 against Brazilian Michael “Tractor” Prazeres.
With a 13-2 pro record and an eight-fight winning streak, Ronson’s promotion to the UFC is well earned. The 27-year-old feels the timing is perfect and is ready to make an impact in the promotion’s talent-stacked lightweight division.
Ronson is a product of the Adrenaline Training Centre in London, Ontario along with other UFC veterans Sam Stout, Mark Hominick, and Chris Clements. He also gets in sparring time at Parabellum MMA Centre in Oakville, which according to Ronson, has become a central hub of sorts for elite Ontario-based fighters.
Ronson doesn’t mince his words when he talks about where he fits in to the UFC’s 155 pound division.
“I can’t wait to tear it up. There’s so many guys at 155 I match up well against and can beat … and they’re very big names, I think.”
Fight Network commentator Robin Black was providing colour commentary for that fight and has followed Ronson’s career closely over the years. He weighed in on Ronson’s prospects in the UFC.
“I think he is already in a position where he could beat tough guys, Black said. “But I think Jesse is in a good spot, because he’s starting at the bottom of the division and going to be facing the lower-level lightweights for his first few fights.
“I think he can beat those guys soundly so with that extra development, I think he could go very far.”
When you see Ronson in action, it’s obvious that he’s a fighter that possesses an impressive combination of skill, tenacity, and conditioning. More of note to the more casual UFC fans who will be watching Ronson fight for the first time is that he is a fighter who loves to stand and trade punches and kicks.
“Jesse is a crowd-pleaser,” Black said. “It’s partly because of his technical style and partly because of his mentality. His mentality is to get in there and get into a gun fight.
“He is one of those guys that feels that 19 times out of 20, you’re going to be the first guy to drop.”
The best example of Ronson’s exciting style came last fall when he took on WEC and Strikeforce veteran Ryan Healy (who’s twin brother Pat coincidently fights at on the same UFC 165 card). Ronson demolished the veteran with his slick, yet aggressive southpaw kickboxing style and employed excellent defensive wrestling to win the one-sided unanimous decision.
The “Body Snatcher” added another win to his resume in June over K1 kickboxing prospect Shane Campbell, and after that weighed his options for his fighting future.
“I wasn’t going to do the Ultimate Fighter Canada vs. Australia … If the UFC wasn’t going to call I was planning on doing 1 more fight and then go for a spot on the (American) Ultimate Fighter in Las Vegas,” said Ronson.
Ronson is not only a talented fighter, but a cerebral one as well, which he feels will help him combat the so-called “Octagon jitters” where UFC newcomers under-preform in their debut fights.
“I’m going to be nervous but I’m also seeing a sports psychologist now. He’s given me some great tips and homework to center myself and get rid of those nerves so I can go out there to be dominant and a winner.”
Ronson’s opponent, Prazeres, is a strong grappler who is coming off his first career loss and dropping down from 170 pounds. It’s likely Prazeres will look to take the fight to the mat and Ronson knows this, pointing out that the transition to the larger UFC cage will be a benefit for him in the matchup (smaller, regional MMA shows tend to use much smaller cages or rings).
“The cage size will make a difference because in a smaller cage there’s less room to move and easier for him to get me to the fence and take me down,” Ronson said, adding, “With a 32 X 32 cage I can circle a lot more I can cut angles better. More free range to move around and less of a chance for him to corner me.”
Black concurs with Ronson’s assessment.
“Jesse is going to be his best when he’s fighting on his feet. With a bigger cage, Jesse can stay really mobile, move his feet, use his footwork, he can keep his back off the cage and off the floor a lot easier.”
Ronson faces Prazeres on first portion UFC 165 preliminary card, which can be freely streamed online via Youtube and Facebook starting at 6:30 PM. The UFC 165 main card goes down on Pay Per View at 10:00 PM on Sept. 21 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.