By Elton “Hobbie” Hobson
Interview courtesy of www.canadianprofighter.com
Guys fight for lots of different reasons. Be it personal pride, love of competition, a world title, or just for beer money on a Saturday night, fighters' motivations are as myriad as the fighters themselves.
Ask Ryan Ford why he fights, and the answer is simple: For his family, for his fans, and for himself, in that order. Four years in the fight business and Ford has amassed a 12-2 record, a legion of dedicated fans, and legitimate hype as one of Canada’s biggest homegrown young talents.
Still, his reason for being a fighter has never changed.
“To give something to my family, you know? To provide for them. Maybe I didn’t have everything growing up, didn’t have every opportunity. So that’s why I fight, cause that’s what I want for my family. That’s what I want to give to my daughter.”
To some fighters it is a cliché line, but Ford speaks it with passion and conviction. The most genuine thing about “The Real Deal” is here, in the family that inspires him, motivates him, and keeps him hungry. This past April, he married long-time fiancée Nina in a ceremony in Mexico. The two also have a young daughter named Bella.
“How to best provide for my family has motivated every decision I’ve made,” Ford informs me. “[Both] my decision to leave MFC in the first place, [and] my decision to come back.”
While his personal life was coming into focus, his career exploded. As the face and star promotional attraction of the Edmonton, Alberta based Maximum Fighting Championships, Ford became one of the most talked about attractions on the Canadian circuit.
Over the course of two years and eight fights, the MFC’s and Ford’s star power rose in equal measure, each contributing to the other’s rise and success. It was a match made in heaven.
Then the first snag. In February of ‘09, Ford lost a close split decision to Pat Healy for the MFC Welterweight title, his second career loss to Healy. Then, Ford and MFC abruptly parted ways in March, citing contract disputes and salary differences.
MFC President Mark Pavelich trashed his former star attraction in the press. Ford vowed he would “never step foot in an MFC ring again.”
So it came as quite a surprise when just this past week, news broke that the MFC had re-signed Ford, who is expected to make his return to the promotion at MFC 26 on September 10.
Why the sudden reconciliation?
“I think this time out between me and Mark [Pavelich], it’s a different relationship. It’s just business, whereas last time it was business as well as a little bit personal. This time, we don’t have any of that baggage or outside stuff hanging over our heads. We have an agreement that’s in both of our best interests.”
In the past, Ford has caused a stir with comments comparing his foundational role in MFC to what Chuck Liddell or Forrest Griffin are to the UFC. It is an assertion he does not back down from.
“Yeah, I still feel that way. I feel like I helped make MFC, and that MFC helped make me. The same way Chuck or 'Rampage’ helped build up the UFC, I helped make the MFC what it is today.”
It’s a confident claim, but one borne of the facts. Ford’s rising star was a boon for the MFC, and he managed to generate significant hype and attention during his first stint with the promotion. Canada is a nation always looking to crown “the next GSP“ and for a while Ford was seen as possible heir to the throne. Now the promotion will attempt to recapture that buzz with Ford’s return run, despite the second Healy loss.
Luckily, in his time away from the promotion Ford has not been idle or resting on his laurels.
Signing with The Fight Club, another Alberta based fight promotion, “The Real Deal” went 4-0 including submission wins over Markhaile Wedderburn and TUF 6 finalist Tommy Speer. Looking better and more polished in each outing, he has regained much of the momentum lost in the Healy fight.
It goes without saying that‘s a fight Ford wouldn’t mind having back.
“Yeah, I’d love a third fight with Pat [Healy]. The first fight, I was still new to the game, and he caught me with an armbar after I basically kicked his butt for 10 minutes. Then in the second fight, I was physically prepared, but mentally I had some stuff going on. I lost a close decision. Both fights were really good fights, close fights.
"Do I feel like I could beat him? Absolutely. Do I think I’ll get that fight again? Probably not. Healy’s fighting at 155 [lbs] now, and there’s no way I could make 155 unless I cut my leg off or something.”
So with old grudges buried and rivals departed for another division, the slate looks clean for Ford’s return to the MFC ranks. Mark Pavlich has promised nothing but the best competition for Ford’s return engagement, and the next few months could provide the kind of definitive statement we’ve been waiting for out of Ryan since his career began.
For now, he has one goal and one goal only: to pick up on a better note then he left off in MFC, and prove he still is “The Real Deal.”
“Obviously, everyone wants to go to the UFC. They’re the NFL of Mixed Martial Arts. But that’s in the future. Right now, I’m not looking at UFC, I’m not looking at Bellator, I’m not looking at Strikeforce or any of them. I want to carve out my place in the MFC, win that belt, then see where I go from there.
"I’ll face anyone they put in front of me. Doesn’t matter who. What matters is proving that I can belong with anyone in the world at 170 [lbs] and living up to the potential that I know I have. I know what I’m capable of doing. It’s just a matter of doing it.”
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