SINGAPORE – JUNE 23: (L-R) Tyson Pedro of Australia kicks Ovince Saint Preux in their light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 23, 2018 in Singapore. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

At UFC Adelaide in December, Tyson Pedro copped the wrong end of kick by Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua in the second round of a dominant fight. While the Australian-based fighter “knew it tore straight away”, he continued the fight before bowing out in the third round. Since then, the MMA star has been keeping himself busy as he looks to make the ultimate comeback shortly.

With an intense six months thus far, Pedro has described the mental impact of being out of competition as “pretty strong” and admitting it has been a “rough comeback”. Nevertheless, the fighter who hails from Sydney’s west knows that they’re bred tough out there, and his perseverance shows. With a packed daily schedule of training and rehab, the 27-year-old has told media in the past it’s “the best thing that’s happened to me in my career”.

And with a fresh perspective and off the back of his appearance at Sneaker Con in late-May, ICON caught up with the athlete to chat all things MMA in the midst of a huge comeback.

ICON: Talk to me about your upbringing. What initially got you interested in mixed martial arts?

Tyson Pedro: “I’ve been fighting since I was a kid. I was lucky, my Mum let us try everything, my Dad was always in to martial arts. So I tried everything, basketball, tennis, rock climbing, you name it my Mum let us try it but I always went back to fighting.”

ICON: Is there anything fans might not know about the sport?

TP: “I think that we take care of all our own camp. That’s a big part of it. A lot of people don’t know that we have to, once we get paid, then we have to pay our own physios and our own doctors, chiropractors; so it all adds up. You’re already putting away a certain amount of money once you win, straight to your camp.”

ICON: What is your biggest career highlight to-date?

TP: “Still the first walk out when I first got into the UFC in Melbourne. Knowing I was in the UFC and walking out in front of the home crowd … it’s crazy how loud they are.”

Credit: Pat Supsiri
ICON: You’re facing a UFC comeback after tearing your ACL. How did that impact you mentally?

TP: “Pretty strongly, it’s been a rough comeback. The first, especially the first few months. Now it’s been a lot easier, I’ve got a good team beside me and you learn I guess from all those hardships. I’m a better athlete for it.”

ICON: Can you explain your weekly training routine?

TP: “It’s been pretty busy at the moment now that my injury is back. So day-to-day… l start at about 4am and straight into a cold shower, straight to my strength and conditioning class which today (Friday) was cardio … I come home and have a nap and then I do my morning routine. Which is meditating and then my NormaTec boots for recovery for my legs… Now I’m on my way to boxing, then I’ll go home again and then recovery boots, I’ll stretch, have another nap and then I’ll have wrestling tonight. Possibly physiotherapy before then.”

ICON: What goes through your mind when first stepping out into the ring?

TP: “Quite funnily, nothing. It’s been a long time to get to that. All the nerves, I’ve been through all the stages of nerves and anger … With all that training, you have to be in what I guess you’d call ‘being in the zone’… One time I really messed up was when I was walking into the octagon and I was like, ‘I wonder where my wife is sitting?’, and that was one of the hardest fights I had.”

PERTH, AUSTRALIA – FEBRUARY 11: Tyson Pedro of Australia celebrates his submission victory over Saparbek Safarov of Russiain their light heavyweight bout during the UFC 221 event at Perth Arena on February 11, 2018 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
ICON: MMA is quite popular particularly amongst teenagers. What kind of benefits and lessons come from the sport for young people?

TP: “The hardship of training. I think the mental health side. It was a struggle going through this injury but it’s getting back into training that gets you back on the horse. I’ve got a couple of friends that are going through issues at the moment and all I’ve said is go to training with me and they’ve been better for it. Once you go to training every morning, the rest of the day gets easier…”

ICON: Following recovery, where do you see your career going from here? Are there any goals you’re working towards?

TP: “I’ve got really big goals for myself, I set really high standards for myself … There are a lot of people in the light heavyweight division at the moment, a lot of new blokes so I’m sure I’m going to come up against a few of them. I’m sure further in my career I will go up against Johnny Walker so that’s what everyone has been pushing for. I’m sure that fight will eventuate…”