In mixed martial arts, the word retirement is seldom taken seriously by fight fans.
In the sports’ short history, a plethora of fighters have hung up their gloves only to have the itch to compete again consume and lure them back to the cage.
Sunderland’s Ross Pearson is the latest fighter to fall into that category, with his return to action headlining Probellum MMA’s latest card, which takes place in Brentwood this evening.
But unlike many before him, Pearson’s retirement only lasted a matter of months.
In April, a few weeks after losing to Desmond Green at UFC on ESPN 2, Pearson announced he’d come to the end of his mixed martial arts journey.
At the time, ‘The Real Deal’ – a veteran of 25 UFC fights – thought he was making the right call bringing the curtain down on his time as an MMA fighter. But with the benefit of hindsight, he admits the decision was a rash one.
“I think I jumped the gun a little bit too early throwing the retirement word out of my mouth,” the 35-year-old told Express Sport. “I think from my last UFC performance, I got pissed off, frustrated and I spat my dummy out.
“I was over it, I didn’t enjoy it any more, it was getting too much, it was getting too frustrating and I wanted something new and something different.”
Pearson’s frustrations didn’t solely lie with his run of results in his last five fights.
“I just got frustrated with the way my career went and the way the business side of the sport was going,” he added. “I knew that my time with the UFC was over and I spat my dummy out and said, ‘F**k it, that’s it. I’ve had enough.”
During his time away from the sport, Pearson tried his hand at professional boxing to quench his thirst to compete, picking up a second-round TKO victory over Salar King in his debut in May.
And the Ultimate Fighter season 9 lightweight winner admits his venture into the squared circle him made him revaluate his entire approach to training.
He said: “That really made me realise the things I had been doing [wrong] in the UFC and the things I’d been doing in training camp and the things I that I know and do have been questioned and changed.
“I needed that change of light and change of focus, I needed that change of drive.”
Pearson’s comeback fight will pit him against France’s Davy Gallon, a veteran of 24 professional fights with 17 victories to his name.
The Brit has the utmost respect for Gallan ahead of their Brentwood showdown but is confident he’ll be too much to the handle.
“He’s very patient, he chooses the correct shots, he looks for the correct shots,” Pearson said of Gallan. “He’s very methodical in his approach to kickboxing for MMA.
“I just feel too well-rounded, too in your face and will have too much pressure for him and will eventually find the openings. I’m too sharp. I’m too sharp in the pocket where doesn’t was me to be. I should be able to get him out of there pretty soon. I’m pretty confident about that.”
Pearson hopes an impressive victory will kick start a run of fights in 2020, saying: “I think this fight is the start of a new beginning. I am now not contracted to the UFC.
“So I am still looking to go forward in the world of boxing, kickboxing and the world of martial arts. Whether the next fight is another MMA fight or a boxing fight, I just want to test my skill level across the board in the whole combat world.”