HUMANS OF THE ISLANDS: TYSON PEDRO
The first Pe’a to enter the Octagon - TYSON PEDRO-MMA/UFC Fighter
Tyson Pedro has always believed in the old adage “ask and you shall receive”.
The 25-year-old light heavyweight pleaded for the chance to fight at UFC Melbourne .... And soon enough, he was granted his wish. “I’ve been training hard and I’m ready to go Dana.”
After Pedro won at AFC 17, submitting respected New Zealand warhorse Steven Warby, he called on UFC president Dana White to add him to the card at Rod Laver Arena on November 27.
“They’ve got a show in November and if someone pulls out at light heavyweight, I’m there,” Pedro said on October 15. Pedro said it was a “dream come true” to break into the UFC.
How did you get into fighting?
My family has always been involved in martial arts; I started in karate at a young age with my father. So we have always been involved in fighting, when other kids were kicking the footy with each other me and my siblings were choking each other out. I’ve been training with my dad for 17 years and he had the first cage fight in Australia and I’ve always watched these guys since I was a young kid, so to now live that dream… it’s amazing
You debuted at UFC Melbourne last weekend, what did you have to do in preparation for your first UFC match?
Very similarly to every one of my previous fights. I train hard all the time, as you can never underestimate an opponent. At the end of the day it's just another fight, I always go in believing that no ones going to hit me harder than my dad has. I went from having one fight in four years to four fights in six months and every fight has been challenging and what’s more challenging than fighting on the biggest show in the world? I was excited!
How did it feel to get the win?
Yeah winning was great, I try not to act to differently from if I had lost which is why I have a lot of respect for Khalil, as he was the same. What was amazing though, was as I was walking out to 'Sexual' the whole crowd started singing along. That was sick!
You are the first Samoan with a pe'a to enter the octagon, how did it feel to be taking your tatau culture somewhere it had never been before?
That’s probably one of the biggest highlights for me. Especially knowing how many young poly kids have contacted me asking for guidance in pursuing their dreams. Its an honor for me, I tell them as long as you believe in yourself and give it everything you've got you can do anything.
Where did you get your pe'a, tell us about it?
Petelo Sua Suluape. It was a long road but wouldn't change any of it. I completed it with my father and there was no experience like it to compare it to.
There aren't many Maori/PI fighters in the UFC, how does it feel to be one of the few in the UFC?
So proud, to represent in this sport is so amazing. I think the thing I’m most excited about is the future for Pacific Islanders in the sport. It is obvious of our natural sporting gifts; it is just a matter of being given the skills and knowledge, where I believe we will eventually dominate the sport. Look at the NFL…
Who did you look up to in your fighting career?
James Tehuna was a big one, especially training with him for so long. Also people like Mark Hunt and David Tua. Pioneers of combat sports that paved the way for young kids like me and showed us that the dream can become a reality. Tai Tuivasa is another perfect example we used to talk on msn telling each other that we will be there one day. Now we are both signed and he and my sister just had a beautiful boy Carter Tuivasa. Was really hoping that Tyson would be passed on though.
What are some challenges you've faced along the way?
There has been plenty, I severely broke my leg and dislocated my ankle 3 years ago playing rugby. Went in to a pretty dark place as I was supposed to fight not long after that. 3 failed surgeries pushed the recovery time out though I was still in the gym everyday doing something. Moon boot, crutches and all. About 18 months until I was back to full contact but it's this type of adversity that makes us who we are and I believe that all the good in my life wouldn't be there without the bad. So you just have to keep that positivity especially in hard times.
What’s next for Tyson Pedro? Where do you see yourself (or would like to) in the future?
It's always been my dream to fight in Las Vegas at the MGM. I'll be there soon but I’ve got a bit of work to do.
It would top it off if I was on the card with the other PI Mark, Rob and my bro Tai.
Humans of the Islands: Genah Fabian