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Ross Pearson says cutting to featherweight gave him kidney, digestive issues

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

LAS VEGAS — Ross Pearson's weight cut to 145 pounds was so oppressive, it has resulted in long-term health issues.

The UFC veteran revealed his kidney and digestive struggles Tuesday after his open workout for media and fans. Pearson moved back up to 155 pounds back in 2012, but still didn't feel at full strength at that weight after making the cut to featherweight twice.

"I've had some kidney problems in the past," Pearson said. "Kidneys is one and my digestive system. Cutting to 145 messed us up. That was the root of all evil with my digestive system, my stomach, my kidneys. I had to take some time out and think about what I was doing. I just knew every time I fought at 155, yes the weight cut was easy, but I didn't feel like me still. There was something not right. I really feel like cutting too much weight and trying too hard to do that stupid weight cut, it really messed us up long term."

Pearson (19-10, 1 NC), who meets Will Brooks at The Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale on Friday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena, said that he would advise younger fighters to think long and hard about extreme weight cuts.

"I've paid the price for that," he said. "It was my decision to go down there, to try it out and do it. I was stupid enough to do it. I feel better at 155. Future life, when I have my own fight team, I'll be correcting them from my mistakes, what I did wrong."

The topic of weight-cutting by means of severe dehydration has been one of the hottest topics in MMA. An earlier weigh-in has been all the rage and fighters will hit the scale in the morning for all three events here this week, rather than the afternoon to give them more time to rehydrate. The UFC is internally discussing making earlier weigh-ins permanent after a successful runs at UFC 199 in Los Angeles and UFC Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Thompson in Ottawa.

The California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) has also implemented stricter policies against severe dehydration, including hydration testing. The UFC, beginning this week, is asking fighters to arrive for fight week at 8 percent or less of their target weights.

Pearson, 31, is a fan of the new rules, especially the earlier weigh-in. But he doesn't want his past struggles to distract from the task at hand: beating Brooks.

"I really thought I had an ulcer in my stomach, but it wasn't that," Pearson said. "I don't want to bore you guys out with health issues. It doesn't matter with health issues. I'll fight with one leg, I'll fight with one arm. We're not here to give excuses of why I lost fights. We're not here to give excuses about nothing. I'm here, I'm prepared, I'm healthy and I'm focused and I'm switched on to knock this guy out."

The English fighter seems to have his health straightened out now after changing his diet and seeing specialists. He's coming off a split decision win over Chad Laprise in March and has won two of three.

"I'm feeling sharp and feeling healthy and I'm feeling fit again," Pearson said. "And that hunger is definitely there."