Jesse Ronson set for long overdue second UFC stint on Fight Island

Jesse Ronson has been here before, and he knew it was only a matter of time before he’d be back.

Canada’s Ronson (21-10) is set to kick off his second UFC tenure in a welterweight matchup with Denmark’s Nicolas Dalby (18-3-1) at UFC Fight Island 3 on Saturday night in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Ronson received the short notice call when Dalby’s original opponent, Danny Roberts, was forced out of action due to injury.

Ronson’s first stint in the UFC, which began back in 2013, was a unique one, as he went on to lose to the likes of Michel Prazeres, Francisco Trinaldo, and Kevin Lee, all via split decision.

With the way his first UFC term panned out and the success he had between then and now, Ronson, 34, said he believes receiving this second shot in the octagon was long overdue.

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“It’s been a long time coming. I definitely feel better about it now because I’m more mature, I’m a better fighter, I’m a more well-rounded fighter, I’m more seasoned, and I’m more mentally stable than I ever was, especially back in 2013,” said Ronson in an interview with MMA Empire.

“I just think now’s the right time; it couldn’t have happened at a better time.”

Ronson all for the Fight Island hype

Of all events for Ronson to make his UFC return at, he gets to do so on the final Fight Island card, which, with currently 15 fights scheduled, is shaping up to be a historic night.

With all the hype surrounding Fight Island over the past couple months, as well the the buildup to this particular fight card, Ronson said he’s grateful to be part of it all.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, it’s a historic moment, and it’s good to be part of it,” said Ronson.

“With no other sports going on, I finally get to shine and showcase and put it on. I’m going to bring my whole tool bag, everything I know, and everything I can do. I’m one of two Canadians on this card, so they’re going to be showing all the replays on Sportscentre. Everyone’s going to finally get to see who I am.”

In his 31-fight professional career, this will be the first time Ronson experiences fighting without a crowd in the stands, which has become the norm for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19 measures.

Ronson said he doesn’t see the no crowd factor playing a big role in the fight, and views it as being similar to an every-day sparring session in the gym.

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“It’s literally just going to be like in the gym and sparring. It’s just been me, my one sparring partner, and my coach in the gym, and that’s exactly what it’s going to be like on Saturday,” said Ronson.

“It’s going to be better for me; I’ll be able to hear them clearly, I’ll be able to be more relaxed, and I don’t have to worry about the fans booing or cheering.”

Ronson’s training level remained constant

While many fighters in the MMA world had to significantly alter their training regimes or, in some cases, haven’t been able to train at all, Ronson hasn’t skipped a beat.

Although it’s been with much less training partners, Ronson said he’s still been constantly training since the COVID-19 pandemic exploded back in March.

“I haven’t stopped training; the COVID-19 pandemic thing hasn’t stopped me,” said Ronson.

“I’ve kept my group pretty small with the same five guys I train with. It’s been pretty good and I haven’t missed anything, so I’m just as sharp as I’ve ever been.”

Much like Ronson, Dalby is also in his second stint with the UFC. Dalby made his UFC return back in September with a unanimous decision win over Alex Oliveira. In his first go-around with the UFC, Dalby’s lone victory came over Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos, while also fighting to a majority draw with one half of Saturday’s main event headliner, Darren Till.

And despite what many people perceive Dalby’s style to be, Ronson said he sees him as a much smarter and more well-rounded opponent than his reputation.

“Everyone always says Dalby’s a banger, but Dalby’s not dumb. Maybe his first stint in the UFC he was a dumb banger, but now he’s smart and thinks things through. If he’s not winning on the feet, then he’ll go for the takedown. He’s not afraid to clinch, and he’s an all-around mixed martial artist,” said Ronson.

“However, I do think I’m faster, I hit harder, and I’m definitely better at wrestling.”

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