Ryan Ford (right) with Artur Beterbiev
By Andy Cotterill
There are many fighters in Canada, but none are quite like Ryan Ford.
Known as “The Real Deal,” the 40-year-old from Edmonton has been fighting professionally since 2007, first in mixed martial arts, followed by boxing, and now with a return to MMA.
What sets Ford apart from so many other fighters is his consistency. To do something at a high level is one thing, but to do it with 100% focus and dedication for 15 years is another thing entirely.
Numerous fighters have come and gone in that time, yet Ford is still here, thriving.
I started off our conversation by asking him if he was still surprised to be in the fight game at this stage of his life.
“No.” he said, succinctly.
“Not at all,” he continued. “It’s my lifestyle. I wake up in the morning and the first thing on my mind is I gotta go to the gym, I gotta train.”
This professional mindset of needing to be always ready leads all of Ford’s decisions.
“I don’t give myself days off or, you know, long periods of time off, because that’s how you get old. When you’re in the gym and training all the time your body stays young. There shouldn’t be an offseason because every day is a day to get better.”
Ford took a break from mixed martial arts in 2014 and decided to focus on boxing, making his debut in 2017, and that’s where it looked like he was going to stay. But Ford shocked many when he stepped back inside a cage in March of this year to fight veteran Dawond Pickney at Unified MMA 43.
Not only did Ford win that fight after such a long layoff, he won it via submission, securing a brutal triangle choke near the end of the second round.
I remarked that his method of victory surprised me, considering that he is known primarily as a fluid and heavy striker.
“You know the craziest thing was is during the training camp I was catching guys in the triangle and it just shows that stand up is just not the only way that I can win. People need to know that if it comes to the ground I can put you away.”
The next man that Ford wants to put away is Robert Hale, and American fighter with an 11-5 record who will be making the trip north to face Ford at Unified MMA 45 in Enoch, Alberta on Friday night for the Unified Super-Welterweight Championship.
Ford is confident in this matchup, and doesn’t think that Hale will pose any serious threat to him.
“He’s an average fighter.” Ford said.
“We’ve done some research on him and check out what he’s about. I have not seen anything that he’s going to bring to me that I’m not going to be ready for as far as I’m concerned. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never underestimated my opponent. He’s come to fight, but I just think there’s levels to this, and I’m on a different level.”
Ford received a pleasant surprise during this training camp when he was invited to Montreal to be a sparring partner for who he calls “the most feared light heavyweight’ boxer in the world, Artur Beterbiev.
“I put in 23 rounds with him, and then being in Montreal I was able to get back to Tristar Gym as well. The grind never stops. I’m always in the gym, and I’m always ready to fight. If it makes dollars. It makes sense.”
Ford says that he respects Hale but has a message for him.
“I didn’t do the trash talking like him when I was younger, but you got to believe in yourself, you got to give it to him. You know, he’s got to hype himself up, he’s got to believe him.”
“But he’s saying that he’s going to knock me out in the first round, which I think it’s pretty funny. I’ve never even close to been stopped or knocked out.”
“He needs to know that Friday night when we step into that cage, this is a whole different type of dude…he’s going to be shocked.
Ryan Ford will be cornered by Parwez Ghulam