Season Nine Lightweight winner of The Ultimate Fighter Ross Pearson made his featherweight debut at UFC 141 after a six fight run in the UFC's stacked lightweight division.
The decision when looking from the outside it seems like a great decision, Pearson is coming off a 1-2 record in his last three fights including a closely fought split decision to lightweight prospect Edson Barboza. However, the featherweight division in the UFC, thanks to an influx of former 155ers, is not a division to be taken lightly, rather one that is becoming just as deep.
Because the UFC featherweight division is barely a year old, fans are just beginning to become educated on the fighters and the depth within the division. For many they see former lightweight fighters dropping ten pounds as a good thing because its just ten pounds and they will be bigger and stronger. However that opinion varies per fighter and doesn't take into account the truly skilled fighters at 145.
For Pearson after the lose to Barboza he was stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one hand his future in the lightweight division seemed limited as he could not defeat good wrestlers nor did he have the level of striking that made him dangerous enough to win every stand-up fight. After going to decision in three of his last four fights he needed to make a change and dropping to featherweight seemed to make sense.
However, Pearson has always been a fighter who used his speed and striking skills to win fights at lightweight and dropping to a smaller division means that he is fighting guys who are just as quick if not faster. Often dropping weight can suck down a fighter and make them slower though that might not be the case for Pearson as he has always been a smaller lightweight fighter. Overall, the drop cannot be looked at as making Pearson a better fighter, rather there are many points that show it could hurt him.
When examining the UFC's featherweight division many fans see very few names that they recognized. However, the featherweight division is littered with fighters who possess the skills to defeat not only Pearson, but also just about any 155'er who chooses to drop the ten pounds.
Current UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, at the tender age of 25, has supplanted himself as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world by dominating the division since defeating Mike Brown for the WEC Title back in late 2009. Several title contenders such as Chad Mendes, Dustin Porier, Diego Nunes and Chan Sung Jung all possess the skills to defeat Pearson in convincing fashion.
So where does Ross Pearson rank now that he's dropped to the featherweight division? In truth, the drop has pushed him down the totem pole as the fighter above him hold an even bigger advantage with Pearson's skills also not transitioning in full to the featherweight division. Pearson compares to former title contender Mark Hominick, though if the two did fight Hominick would be the favorite in my eyes.
In closing Pearson's move to featherweight will prove to be much like Nate Diaz's jump to the welterweight division, he'll find that the grass is definitely not greener on the other side.