Bellator blue-chip prospect Ed Ruth spoke exclusively to Pundit Arena as he gets ready to take on Neiman Gracie in the opening round of the welterweight grand-prix tonight.
You’d be forgiven for questioning the inclusion of a 6-0 fighter within a tournament featuring guys as experienced as Rory MacDonald, Douglas Lima, and Paul Daley.
Bellator’s 170lb division is a shark-tank and the promotion’s finest weight-class but make no mistake, Ed Ruth is the dark horse within the bracket and I would not be one bit surprised if he won the entire thing outright.
People are fond of labelling up-and-comers as the next big thing but in Ruth, you have a genuinely world-class athlete with a proven resumé in combat.
A three-time NCAA Div I national champion in wrestling, he made the switch to mixed martial arts just over two years ago and in the time since, he has gone 6-0 – finishing five of his opponents with strikes.
Speaking to us here at Pundit Arena MMA, Ruth explained how he is slowly shrugging off the idea of being the wrestler-in-transition, instead, he plans to make it abundantly clear at Bellator 213 that he is the full package.
“With this next fight, I want to show people that I am a mixed martial artist. We’ve already gone past the point where I’m transitioning and we’re getting to a more complete product.
“They can call me a prospect but I don’t really feel like I’m a prospect.”
Facing Neiman Gracie in the opening bout, he will be sharing the cage with the other relatively green fighter within the grand-prix but like him, another who brings some serious potential and momentum behind him.
And while he is no doubt aware of the dangers of fighting a competitor of Gracie’s level, Ruth made it clear that the Brazilian is in no way ready for what he will bring to proceedings.
“I feel about him the same way I would feel about any other opponent. I don’t really focus on my opponent, I just focus on myself. I know how I feel for him because I’m totally prepared for this fight. I feel that he’s underprepared [for me].
“I’m always going for the first-round knockout. If it’s not in the first-round it’ll be a three-round war.
Ed Ruth has become the outside pick for the Bellator welterweight grand-prix in the eyes of some, but has spent the majority of his career to date fighting at 185lbs or at a catchweight.
Despite feeling very comfortable with the cut to 170lbs, Ed seemed excited to test himself against the reigning middleweight champion, Gegard Mousasi.
“Of course there’s the next weight-class up, there’s Mousasi. He’s another guy I want to fight. Apart from the other guys in the tournament, I definitely want to fight Mousasi. He’s a really good striker and I want to test myself against him.
“I feel like 170lbs is my natural weight but I want to keep going up until I can’t go up any more.”
It’s easy to point at any rising talent and label them the future of the sport, but with Ed Ruth, we have something different, something that has caused the MMA community to take note and with a showdown on the big stage tonight to look forward to, do not be surprised if his name is the one on everyone’s lips come Sunday morning.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena