UFC light heavyweight Tyson Pedro set up his upcoming fight with Saparbek Safarov. The Aussie-Samoan also spoke about his podcast with fellow UFC 221 fighter Tai Tuivasa.
Tyson Pedro experienced the first ever loss in his fighting career at UFC 215 last July. Prior to that defeat (at the hands of Ilir Latifi), Pedro had six straight wins. And all of those came via stoppage.
At this weekend’s UFC 221 in Perth, Australia, Pedro hopes to get back to winning ways. Trying to do the same thing will be Saparbek Safarov. The Dagestani fighter’s last fight featured his first ever loss, too (his coming to Gian VIllante).
Prior to the Latifi fight Pedro was training in Albuquerque, NM with Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn. However, this time around, the Australian-Samoan light heavyweight has opted to stay home in Sydney.
“There was a couple of hiccups with sponsorship and stuff,” said Pedro to Bloody Elbow regarding the reasons behind not traveling to Jackson-Wink MMA Academy. “Even just weather and time difference, it made sense to stay over here.”
In Sydney, Pedro has returned to training methods and a style of preparation that saw him go undefeated in the first phase of his pro career. A big part of this regimen is avoiding knowing too much about an opponent. This is vastly different from the experience of many fighters at Jackson-Wink, who pour over video with their coaches when formulating a game-plan.
“My coaches have watched his fights and have told me a couple of things that they think will work,” said Pedro. “But really, I’ll figure it out along the way and that’s one of my strengths; being able to figure out fighters inside the cage.”
Pedro stated that moving away from this approach is a key reason why he lost so convincingly to Latifi in Edmonton.
“It wasn’t a hard loss for me,” explained Pedro. “I just took it as a learning experience. I concentrated on myself afterwards. I think I was getting too caught up in focusing on my opponent before a fight and not focusing on what I was good at. So when I went into that fight, I was concentrating on a lot of what he was good at and it wasn’t what I was good at. It was more of a strategic than a technical loss, I think. So I went back and started concentrating on the stuff I was doing which was the reason I got into the UFC in the first place.”
Along with familiar methods, Pedro has also had familiar faces around him during this training camp. These included the UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker (who was forced out of UFC 221 with an accumulation of injuries) and Tai Tuivasa who fights Cyril Asker in Perth.
Pedro and Tuivasa have been friends since childhood. Tuivasa also has a baby with Pedro’s sister. The 205lb Pedro said he doesn’t train too much with the heavyweight Tuivasa (for fear of being squashed). Recently though, the pair have spent plenty of time together outside of the gym.
Three months ago Pedro and Tuivasa debuted The Halfcast Podcast. The show features them discussing their lives and careers, as well as interviews with other characters within combat sports. In episode four, they spent 45 minutes talking to K1, Pride, and UFC legend Mark Hunt (who fights Curtis Blaydes at UFC 221).
“It started off as just, we watched a couple of podcasts and we were like, ‘Man it would be pretty funny if we did something like this. Just talk shit on the TV or about ourselves or whatever.’ And then that quickly progressed into something like, ‘Hey man we can get some stories out of people, which will be of value to other people. What if we had a podcast where we show all of these people, who came from somewhere where nothing was expected of them, and are now making something of themselves?’ It’s been pretty cool getting to do it and we’ve already interviewed some cool people and there’s a lot more to come; so I can’t wait to see where that goes.”
The name of the podcast is derived from a term for mixed-race individuals. It’s considered offensive in many parts of world, especially those which have suffered/are suffering as a result of colonialism.
“So both of us are ‘half-caste’,” said Pedro while explaining the name. “We’re both half Samoan and half something else. He’s Aboriginal, I’m Aussie. So it has a nice little jingle to it, so it’s a cool name.”
In the podcast Pedro and Tuivasa have pushed for guests who share in their Polynesian heritage. When asked who would be the ultimate guest, Pedro answered immediately.
“The goal is the Rock, we have to get the Rock on,” he said. Wrestler turned movie star Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is a member of the famed American Samoan Anoa’i wrestling dynasty. Johnson’s father is descended from Black Loyalists who settled in Nova Scotia, Canada after the American Revolutionary War.
Pedro hopes the support he, Tuivasa, and the podcast have received from the Island community in and around Australia can convince Johnson to join them from a chat. But even if that doesn’t happen, Pedro will remain thankful for all the backing he receives from Indigenous communities across Australia and Oceania.
“The Island community gets behind us a lot,” he said. “Australians, Aboriginals, Polynesians, we’ve got a real fighting background … There’s a lot of Polynesian fighters coming through, so it’s good to see everyone getting behind [us].”
Though he has no personal connections to Perth — which is a four hour flight and two time zones away from Sydney — Pedro expects to be cheered while he’s there. He’s happy for that and is also delighted to be sharing the experience with Tuivasa.
“We both know we’re going to go in there and get the job done,” said Pedro. “It’s exciting and a historic moment for both of us. It’s surreal. Growing up as boys, we were saying we can’t wait until we get to the top and now we’re here. So to do that alongside him is an honour.”
You can see Pedro and Tuivasa perform in Perth this Saturday night. Both Tyson Pedro vs. Saparbek Safarov and Tai Tuivasa vs. Cyril Asker go down on the main card of UFC 221. The pay-per-view begins at 10PM ET.