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London lightweight Ronson ready for UFC debut this weekend

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The Canadian Press
9/19/2013 12:05:08 PM
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TORONTO -- Jesse (The Body Snatcher) Ronson only got a little more than four weeks notice about his UFC debut. But the 27-year-old lightweight from London, Ont., had been biding his time, waiting for the call.

Ronson (13-2) ran up an eight-fight win streak along the way, submitting Shane Campbell last time out July 5 to win the Aggression Fighting Championship 155-pound title.

He had thought the UFC would take notice of his previous win, a November decision over former WEC and Strikeforce veteran Ryan Healy in the Score Fighting Series

But nothing happened.

"I thought I was going to get the call (after the Healy win)," Ronson said. "It took a little longer than I expected but I got it."

Ronson will make his long-awaited UFC debut Saturday at UFC 165 against Brazil's Michel (Tractor) Prazeres, who is moving down from welterweight for the fight.

Ronson admits to some rare nerves leading up to the Campbell bout. He knew a loss would be a huge setback in his bid to make the UFC. Also Campbell had been active, posting three wins and taking part in several Muay Thai bouts since Ronson had last fought as a result of several card cancellations.

"I knew he wouldn't have any ring rust like I had ring rust," said Ronson. "I did want to stand and bang with him because he's the best striker in Canada, just to see where I stood."

Ronson dropped him twice before submitting him via rear naked choke in the second round.

"I felt some goals were accomplished in that fight," he said.

Ronson's opponent Saturday is a stocky Brazilian who, at five foot six, will be giving up four inches to Ronson.

Prazeres (16-1) will be a handful.

"He is definitely the Rousimar Palhares of 155 (pounds)," he said, referring to another stocky Brazilian with stellar grappling skills.

Prazeres was a late injury replacement in his UFC debut, losing a close decision to veteran Paulo Thiago on a televised card in Brazil in May.

A back belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and former military police officer, the 32-year-old Prazeres has been a pro fighter since 2000 although 13 of his 17 fights came before June 2008.

Ronson believes Prazeres made the drop to lightweight to take advantage of his strength and grappling skills.

"His coaches probably told him 'Hey look, at 155 pounds, you grab a hold of a guy, they're not going anywhere,' " he said. "He's so big and so strong that nobody's going to be able to stop him. But that's where I come in."

That weight cut, in a foreign country, may make life difficult for the Brazilian, according to Ronson.

"I know he's going to gas really fast," he said. "Probably after the first two or three minutes he's not going to have a gas tank any more."

Ronson, known for his body punches, looks to add to that pain.

"I'm going to keep it busy," he said. "I'm going to beat, beat, beat his body."

On the mental front, he has been working with a sports psychologist to prepare for Saturday and calm his nerves.

"It's helping a lot," he said. "I'm waking up every day feeling great. When I go train, I've never felt this good."

Ronson trains at the Adrenaline Training Center in London, home to fellow UFC fighters Chris (The Menace) Clements and Sam (Hands of Stone) Stout and former UFC featherweight contender Mark (The Machine) Hominick.

Clements is also on the Air Canada card, facing welterweight Stephen (Wonderboy) Thompson.

While Ronson has had to wait for a chance to show his skills in the UFC, in truth he hasn't been at the fight game long. His pro debut was November 2009.

"I definitely put the work in," he said. "It's not like I wanted to fast-track to the UFC. Obviously that was the ultimate goal but this is how busy I want to be.

"If the UFC would let me, I'd like to fight four times a year, maybe even more."

One fight he'd like is a rematch with Montreal's Mike Ricci, who handed him his last loss in April 2011. Ricci is also on Saturday's card, facing Myles (Fury) Jury.

If he hadn't got a call from the UFC after the Campbell win, Ronson was contemplating trying to enter the organization via "The Ultimate Fighter."

But he didn't need the reality TV show after all to crack the UFC lineup.

Saturday marks the first time Ronson has been to a UFC event and not sit in the stands. Ronson has been a spectator at every show in Toronto, as well as one in Montreal and another in Columbus.

Jesse Ronson (Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images)
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