Steven Peterson entered UFC Mexico City on a two-fight skid, needing a win after some questionable judging. He finished the night one of the breakout stars of the show.
Nothing says “statement victory” in MMA quite like a spinning backfist finish. Few and far between in the upper echelon of the sport, that’s exactly what Steven Peterson pulled off at UFC Mexico City late last month. The win earned ‘Ocho’ a Performance of the Night bonus, after he finished Martin Bravo in the second round.
Cageside Press caught up with Peterson ahead of UFC Boston this week, who spoke to us about the finish, and previewed this weekend’s card.
“Even before this fight, I was extremely happy that I’m living my dream,” Peterson told us. “I’m driven every day, every day I’m pushed to another level just in training.”
“I’m really motivated. That win just really solidified me in the UFC,” he added. “It shows I’m there to stay.”
With performances like that, he certainly should be. And he’ll be looking for more. “I always fight to finish, so that just kind of showed what I’m capable of,” he said.
If Ocho’s fights are known for one thing, it’s being violent. Blood is another common sight. “It’s part of the show,” Peterson said. “If there ain’t no blood, there ain’t no show. My last fight, it wasn’t me bleeding though. But there’s got to be blood.”
Going into the UFC Mexico City card, “I felt the pressure for sure,” Peterson said. He’d been robbed, arguably, in his previous fight against Bruce Leeroy. In his home state of Texas no less.
“Going out in the Bruce Leeroy fight, I felt like I was robed, and I was confident that I performed well,” Peterson explained. “I was frustrated, but I wasn’t down on myself. I knew what I brought and what I’m capable of, and I felt I performed well.”
“Going into the next card, I knew I needed a win, and I knew that win was not going to come from the judges. So without a doubt in my mind, I was going to need a finish.” The key, he later added, was not to over-extend himself, and to wait for the right opportunity.
That opportunity came in the second round, when Peterson caught Martin Bravo with a spinning back fist that will make highlight reels for years to come. The move came off Bravo’s own “desperate spinning back fist,” one that Peterson saw coming.
The finish propelled Peterson to a new level of recognition, with dozens of interviews, a viral clip of the knockout, and even a story in Forbes. “What’s really cool is since it was on ESPN, since it was on TMZ, it’s bringing in more fans to the sport that wouldn’t otherwise watch MMA,” he noted.
Check out our full interview with Steven ‘Ocho’ Peterson above! Peterson also previews this Friday’s UFC Boston.