'I was self-sabotaging': Tyson Pedro opens up about his painful journey back to the top of the UFC


After his dominant return to the UFC last month, where he dispatched Ike Villanueva inside one round via a brutal knockout, Australian light-heavyweight Tyson Pedro did all the things he thought he was going to do.

He celebrated inside the cage, soaked in the moment, enjoyed the victory and headed backstage a winner in his first fight in 1196 days.

Then he went backstage and burst into tears.

“It was like climbing a mountain and being at the top. I don’t know if it was relief so much as pride, accomplishment – I did it, I came back,” Pedro said.

“I knew I was where I was supposed to be.”

It was a long way back for Pedro after almost four years on the sidelines after a series of knee injuries which began in his loss to the legendary Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in December 2018.

Pedro freely admits he didn’t just lose his way during his long sabbatical, he lost himself. Even when he was healthy enough to return to the Octagon, he almost didn’t do it.

“There were just times when my family was unhappy with me, I was self-sabotaging, even if I stuck to training I wasn’t being the best version of myself,” Pedro said.

“As soon as the fight was announced there was almost a full panic attack, and I did the same thing, I self-sabotaged.

“My family didn’t want me to fight, it was too much. But I realized what that feeling was – I was scared it was finally real after so long, there was too much emotion.

“But once that cleared I was in kill mode, and I’ve never felt better. The win didn’t mean so much as getting in there and proving to myself I could fight at this level.

“When you’re in a hole you don’t know you’re in a hole until you come out of it.”

Pedro destroyed the American inside one round. (Getty Images, Zuffa LLC: Jeff Bottari)

Now Pedro is back, and he’s aiming straight for the top. He didn’t stay idle during his absence – Pedro launched Drink West, the beer he owns with fellow UFC fighter Tai Tuivasa, and he’ll be part of the ABC’s That Pacific Sports Show as a reporter when it returns to the air in June .

But Pedro still knows what he wants more than anything else. He’s keen on returning to the cage as soon as possible, and is hoping to fight on the Paris card in September, which rumor has it will be headlined by Tuivasa’s bumper clash with former heavyweight title challenger Ciryl Gane.

Pedro believes he was brought on too quickly in his initial UFC run, with his inexperience contributing to some of his losses where he’d often dominate early before losing his way.

Posted 22m ago22 minutes agoThu 19 May 2022 at 8:59 pm, updated 11m ago11 minutes agoThu 19 May 2022 at 9:10 pm


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