Heading into the stiffest test of his young MMA career – a main event tilt with embattled former UFC welterweight contender Karo Parisyan Thursday night at MMA Live 1 in London, Ontario, Canada, Ryan “The Real Deal” Ford is remarkably calm and focused at the challenging task that lies ahead.
In spite of the fact that he has another bout booked a few weeks after his fight with Parisyan, Ford says it isn’t because he’s taking “The Heat” lightly, it’s because he wants to keep putting in work until certain promoters can’t ignore him any longer.
“It just came up the way it did. I haven’t even been thinking about my other fight, the only fight that I’ve been thinking about for the last eight weeks is Karo Parisyan, and I could care less about the next fight I have coming up right now. Karo Parisyan’s been on my mind when I go to bed, when I wake up, and even when I’m sleeping. I never take any of my opponents lightly, especially Karo Parisyan. I’ve seen what he’s done in the sport, so obviously I’m not coming in thinking I’m just going to walk through him,” Ford explains. “I’ve been training my ass off, every day. What I’m looking to do is run through him, so it is what it is. My overall goal is for Mr. Dana White to give me a call, and give me my shot. I’m going to keep putting the work in and do what I can for him to realize that I’m ready for the UFC. And you know, he’s the boss, so it’s up to him and the Fertitta brothers, so it’s up to them to want me to be a part of their organization.”
Although he admits that a win over Karo would do wonders for his already successful 14-3 MMA career, Ford denies that he is looking at using Parisyan as a steppingstone, because steppingstones don’t hit you or try to throw you on your head when you step on them.
“I’m never one to take an opponent as a steppingstone. I’m just taking him as a game opponent that will help my career, and I just want to fight. Karo Parisyan’s been in there with George St Pierre and he lost by decision,” he points out. “He beat Nick Diaz. He beat Chris Lytle. He beat Matt Serra. He’s beaten a lot of top guys if you look at his record. He’s fought a who’s who of MMA. I want to step up my competition and fight these tough opponents, and he’s a tough opponent.”
Ford says that contrary to what some of Parisyan’s critics are saying about him being a shell of his former dangerous self due to his highly publicized battle with prescription painkillers and anxiety, he is expecting the Armenian judoka to be very well-prepared and in shape for the fight, which is why he sequestered himself in Vancouver away from his home in Edmonton for the majority of the past eight weeks to ready for the bout.
“Yeah, Karo’s had his problems and whatnot but he can overcome those problems. People don’t know what people are like on a personal level, on a day to day basis, so they can say whatever they want, but at the end of the day, they’re the ones paying for the tickets to come watch us fight, no matter what’s going on in our personal lives. Me, I’m not a guy who really listens to what the fans say, because I’m a guy that takes a lot of criticism already because of my past,” he says. “Karo’s doing what he’s doing, and I’m pretty sure he’s getting in shape, and he’s going to be in shape for this fight. If he’s not, I don’t know why he would take a fight against me, because I’m one of those guys who is very dedicated and is in the gym day in and day out. I’m not training for the last Karo Parisyan who fought in the UFC, or the Karo Parisyan before that. I’m training for the 2006 and 2007 Karo Parisyan – the dude that everybody was scared to fight. I’m ready for him to come with the best that he’s got, and I’m going to be ready to do the same.”
Ford is especially sympathetic to Parisyan’s plight because his own past mistakes are continually brought up and used against him. Having spent time in jail a decade ago for an assault he was found guilty of when he was, as he says, “young and stupid,” Ford has turned his life around thanks to MMA and has become a responsible father and a mentor to troubled youth who he spends a portion of his free time speaking with about the downfalls of being on the wrong side of the law.
“I’m just tired of people criticizing me for stuff that happened 10 years ago, but that’s what fans do, right? They’re your biggest critics. They need to look at me now, and what I’ve done with my life, and that this is what I do for my life now,” Ford says. “I fight and I look after my family. I fight because I love to fight. God has plans for me, so I’ll wait for the UFC to call. “
In spite of naysayers who point out that Ford’s colorful past will prevent him from making it to the UFC, the fact that he made something out of himself should be enough to give him the chance he deserves. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson whose 2008 hit-and-run incident made headlines around the world has spoken on many occasions about how he made ends meet as a teenager living on his own by dealing drugs. As did Strikeforce standout Lyle Beerbohm, whose remarkable 180-degree turn from drug-addicted criminal to highly-touted fighter has garnered him praise and respect from both fans and the MMA and mainstream media. All Ford wants is to be given the same benefit of the doubt and opportunity, as he should.
“I know for a fact, the UFC would sell out shows no matter what in Edmonton without Ryan Ford. But I’ve got to say that I believe that I’m the next best thing to come out of Canada since George St. Pierre. Everybody talks about all these other guys, but I’ve been in this sport for less years, and been training and fighting for less years than most of the guys in the country, and I’ve put a stamp on my name and I make sure people know who I am,” he says. “If I get a chance to fight in the UFC I can guarantee that that crowd’s going to go wild when I walk out, and when I fight.”
Until he gets that call, Ford plans to keep on keepin’ on by fighting as much as possible. With a two-fight deal in place with MMA Live and one with Aggression that will see him square off with fellow Canadian Nick Hinchliffe June 10 in Edmonton, Ford says his future looks bright, especially for fans who come to show that he’s fighting at who haven’t seen him fight.
“I’ve just been looking for opportunities to fight wherever, and the guys at MMA Live gave me the right contract and the right opportunity. I’m looking to grow my fan base as big as I can get it – market that Ryan ‘The Real Deal’ Ford brand. I hope that I have a lot of supporters that come out Thursday night and if they aren’t fans, at the end of the night, there will be a lot more,” Ford predicts. “If you can expect one thing from me it’s an exciting fight, the same as in every fight that I fight. Now that they’ve opened it up in London, I signed a two-fight deal with MMA Live, so this isn’t the only show that people in London are going to be able to watch me on. I’ll be coming back after this fight, and I’ll be making sure to put on another exciting show just like the one I’m planning on putting on against Karo on Thursday night.”