By Nick Portella
With the quick rise of Robert Whittaker and Megan Anderson in the rankings, Australian MMA has never looked so good. With Whittaker and Anderson as already established stars, the question asked is who will be the next Australian superstar of MMA? Perhaps we shouldn’t look at further than the 25-year-old, undefeated light heavyweight Tyson Pedro. I spoke with Pedro in an attempt to get to known more about what many are calling the next big thing.
Pedro is fresh off of a huge TKO victory over Paul Craig, and is now a perfect 2-0 in the UFC with two first round stoppages. Pedro is now back into a full-time training camp and read to continue to rise up the rankings.
Pedro began to train in martial arts at a very young age. He stated that by the age of 3 or 4, he was already training withBhis father. Training has been continuous ever since. Currently, he holds a black belt in both Bunbu Ichi Nihon jiu-jitsu and Zen Bu Kan Kempo Karate and he rounds out that list with a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Pedro had only 1 amateur fight in which he won by second round knockout. Since turning professional in 2013, he has racked up a perfect 6-0 record with wins inside the octagon over Khalil Rountree and Paul Craig. Pedro is on of the least experienced fighters inside the UFC so he knows he needs to stay active to make up some ground. Tyson said, “I want to fight at least two more times before the end of this year.”
Anyone can see that he is a true student of the sport and enjoys every second of it. He enters the cage dancing and having a good time. “It’s my way of enjoying the fight. I get to do what I love at the highest echelons of MMA”, Tyson said, “That’s enough to make me dance around.”
Tyson won his most recent match against the previously undefeated Paul Craig on March 4, 2017, at UFC 209 via TKO (elbows) in round 1. An impressive win against a tough opponent. Prior to getting into the cage that evening, he thought he’d be able to finish inside the first round. He stated, “Every time I step in the octagon, I’m trying to finish my opponent, whether that’s in the first or the last round.” With that being said, there was some ‘drama’ surrounding this fight. His opponent went on record saying that he wanted to fight a top 15 guy. He also said that Pedro did not deserve the chance to get a fight with him. A large underestimation that could have played a role in the fight’s outcome. Pedro didn’t take the comments personally and stated, “His (Craig) persona is that of an over-the-top, confident fighter. It is great for the sport and the fans like that stuff.” A statement that holds true and does help the sale of fights and events. “I said before the fight that if this is the case he should walk through me. People look past me because of my record.”
Craig is known to take fights to the ground and to impose his will on his opponents but decided to keep the fight standing against Pedro. Pedro stated that he was not really surprised by Craig’s strategy. “Paul said before our fight that he wanted to score a highlight reel knockout. I don’t think he was expecting me to stand with him.”
With a still-undefeated record and twos big wins under his belt, Pedro is still not satisfied by his performance and knows he needs to improve before fighting higher level competition. “I’m still not fighting like I am during training”, Pedro stated, “I would like to see myself become more fluid before I start gunning for the top guys.” A very humble statement from a guy coming out of the gate so strong and placing himself in a position for a top level fight in the future. A guy that many believe could be a champion of the UFC.
With a strong background in striking and grappling and vast improvements between each fight, perhaps the question shouldn’t be if Pedro is the next big star of Australian MMA, but perhaps the question should be if he is the next big thing in MMA.