LIGHT heavyweight sensation Tyson Pedro has declared his intent to fight on the UFC Sydney card as he prepares for the biggest bout of his career.
Pedro, who meets Swedish power puncher Ilir Latifi at UFC 215 in Edmonton, Canada, on Sunday, revealed his endeavour to bounce straight back into the Octagon in November.
With his friends and training partners Mark Hunt and Tai Tuivasa slated to fight at UFC Sydney, Pedro wants a piece of the action.
“If everything goes to plan, I want to fight on that Sydney card,” Pedro, 25, said.
“Hopefully I can walk out of there like nothing’s happened and straight onto the Sydney card. That’s my plan.”
As for who he wants in Sydney, should he get through the bout with 34-year-old Latifi unscathed, Pedro is not prepared to look too far forward.
“I’ve got a couple of names in my head but I’m not going to look past this fight,” he said.
“I go out, get this opponent out of the way and go from there. If there’s a chance to fight in Sydney, that’s great, but I’m putting everything into this fight. That’s my focus.”
In an ominous sign for the No. 10 ranked Latifi, Pedro declared he is in the best shape of his career.
Training the house down for the past six weeks at the famed Jackson-Wink gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Pedro has shed the pounds from his chiselled 93kg frame.
“It’s been a good camp … the hill sprints are the worst day,” Pedro said, detailing the long and straining sessions in the sand.
“It’s all coming to an end. It was a banged-up body at the start but now I’m ready to go.
“We’ve been working a lot on strength and conditioning, I’m light but I feel as fit as hell.
“I’m not crazy light, I’ve just cut a few pounds from what I normally am but I’ve got abs, so I feel good.
“I’ve never had abs this far out from a fight, and when I say abs, I mean a four pack. They’re in there some where.”
Working with sought-after head coach Mike Winkeljohn, renowned MMA instructor and former Pride Strikeforce and EliteXC competitor Joey Villasenor, wrestling expert Chad Smith and hard-nosed and durable lightweight and welterweight Donald “Cowboy’ Cerrone, Pedro has enjoyed a diverse six-week camp.
“We’ve changed it up a little bit and it’s been a little more specific,” he said. “I can’t wait to see how it shows.”
Latifi, 13-5, is coming off a second-round knockout at the hands of American Ryan Bader in September but has taken the scalps of American’s Gian Villante and Sean O’Connell in the past 18 months.
“He’s a tough little guy who throws bombs, so I’m planning on not getting chinned and beating him everywhere,” Pedro said of Latifi.
“It’s always a big test. Every fight is a step up in opponents.
“It’s cool that the UFC has backed me in and given me a higher opponent. I’ve just got to go out there and show them now.”
Pedro, 2-0 in the UFC and 6-0 in his professional career, knows what’s at stake at Rogers Place.
“Top 10 and a quick turnaround,” Pedro said.
“It opens up opportunities. Every time you win it opens up opportunities.
“I’m not too worried about rankings at the moment because there’s plenty of people to fight and it’s such an open division. But I’m feeling fitter and stronger.
“Give me five more camps and I don’t know what’s going to happen … I might be superman,” he added with tongue firmly in his cheek.
Pedro fights on the main card of the pay-per-view UFC 215 event, which is headlined by the flyweight championship bout Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson, regarded as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, and tough challenger Ray Borg.
Women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes will take on the dangerous Valentina Shevchenko in the co-main event.