World Series of Fighting Canadian welterweight champion Ryan Ford (22-4) grew up athletic, and with professional fighting all around him in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. He had to wait until he was much older, however, to be allowed to throw any punches of his own.
“I always grew up around boxing because my dad was a Canadian lightweight champion and was ranked as high as No. 3 in the world, at one point,” Ford told Cagewriter.
“So, boxing was always around. When I was in junior high school, I started wrestling. I was an athletic kid and I played every sport I could. But my mom really didn’t want us to box so we didn’t get to do the boxing, too much. Dad did show us how to hit pads and throw a punch, though.”
Once Ford became an adult and a professional fighter himself, it ended up being in the newer combat sport of MMA, instead of boxing. His mom may not have approved of it, but Ford’s father was also initially a bit dubious of his son’s career choice.
“He had that old school boxing mentality of, ‘What is this stuff?’ ” Ford laughs.
“After seeing a few of my fights he actually was like, ‘OK.’ I actually got into it. He saw that it isn’t this crazy sport.” Â Â
Once Ford’s dad bought into MMA, he was eager to give his son pointers and advice. Sometimes, a little bit too eager, according to the fighter.
“Yeah, he gives me some pointers after fights with stand up striking. He’s a boxing analyst,” Ford says.
“But, It’s changed. He used to box back in the ’70s and ’80s. A lot has changed between then and what we do now.”
Ford has readily accepted the advice and game-planning ability of his head MMA coach Firas Zahabi in preparation for his fight against Jake Shields (29-7-1) Saturday night in Edmonton. Zahabi also prepared Georges St-Pierre for his 2011 UFC welterweight title defense against Shields, and so he knows the “American Jiu-Jitsu” specialist.
“Coach Firas set the game plan when Georges fought him, so I’ve definitely relied on his knowledge. Firas knows the game. He knows what game plans to use. At the same time, I’m a totally different fighter than GSP, so his game plan is different,” Ford admits.
Ford respects Shields and all the savvy and experience he will bring to the cage against him, yet still believes this his own hunger to achieve what Shields already has will make him the more dangerous fighter.
“I believe in myself,” he says.
“I believe in the hard work and dedication I put into the gym. Ain’t nobody gonna stop me come fight night. Jake has been there before, done that before, whereas I haven’t. I’m a lot more hungry than he is. Come fight night, he is going to understand.”
Ford takes on Shields Saturday, Oct. 11 in the main event of a four-fight card airing on NBC Sports Network atÂ 9 pm ET/6 pm PT.
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