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Ross Pearson’s caution for Conor McGregor: ‘It’s a whole different world at 155’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

BOSTON – With Conor McGregor now set to move up to 155 pounds to try and capture a second title at UFC 197 against Rafael dos Anjos, the questions as to how he’ll look as a lightweight have begun to surface. Because McGregor cuts a significant amount of weight to get down to 145 pounds, many believe he is a natural 155-pound fighter.

Yet if anybody can speak on the vast difference between fighting at 145 pounds and 155 pounds, it’s the Englishman Ross Pearson. Pearson, who fights Francisco Trinaldo at UFC Fight Night 81 on Sunday night, spent a two-fight stretch whittling his frame down to featherweight back in 2011-2012.

And having experienced the differences, he’s not sure McGregor knows what waits for him at lightweight.

"I do believe there are fights at 155 that he can win," Pearson told MMA Fighting on Thursday at the UFC media day. "I do believe that. And I do believe that he’s a natural 55er, but he’s got the ability where he can cut weight down to 145 and feel good, and fight at 145. I’ve got the ability to cut the weight to 145, I just didn’t have the ability to feel good. It just wasn’t my style. I couldn’t do that.

"Yet 45 is where he shines — his height, his reach, his movement, his boxing skills, it’s just all lined up well for him. He’s done big things at 45. But at 55, it all gets squashed. It’s a different world."

McGregor defeated Jose Aldo at UFC 194 in December in 13 seconds (KO), and is now on the verge of making history as a dual titleholder. Should he defeat Dos Anjos he has promised the UFC that he will defend both titles regularly to keep the divisions fluid. It’s that kind of confidence that has helped him become one of the game’s most transcendent figures in 2016.

And it’s not just the U.S. and Ireland that love McGregor. The 31-year old Pearson, who comes from Sunderland, says that England is behind McGregor as he makes his historical run, too.

"Yeah, I mean he’s turned into a global sensation," Pearson said. "He’s done the things he has to do and he’s done. And no one can argue anything against him. He’s done well. I wish I had that brash bravado, that ego, but I haven’t got that, you know what I mean? I’ve just got the hard work, grinding type of style. And that’s the type of person I am.

"But I think it’s a whole different world for him at 55. Money definitely speaks, and [the Dos Anjos fight] a big fight to sell. It’s going to make a lot of money. The UFC obviously wants it. The UFC is kind of backing him and giving him a lot of leeway to play with. But obviously I don’t think it’s going to be a Floyd Mayweather deal where he picks and chooses who he fights, where he lines them up strategically so he wins every fight. That’s just not how it works in MMA. There’s too many ways to win, and too many ways to lose, and there’s too many good guys. So if that’s what his plan is, I don’t think it’s going to work."

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