Bellator 231 welterweight standout Ed Ruth is looking to become the best in the world despite a recent setback.
Ed Ruth entered the Bellator Welterweight Grand Prix as a trendy dark horse to win the tournament but didn’t live up to expectations. He ended up being eliminated in the opening round of the competition — losing to Neiman Gracie via fourth-round submission. The loss was the first of the three-time NCAA wrestling champion’s professional MMA career.
“I don’t think it was too early in my career,” Ruth told Cageside Press ahead of his return Friday. “To be honest, if the opportunity came around again, I would take it. I just believe that putting myself in that position and putting myself in that tournament, even if I didn’t win, I still learned a lot from that experience. A lot of guys don’t get that opportunity to be in that sort of a high stakes situation that early in their career… Now I can expect that more often and I can be more comfortable in that situation.”
Ruth credited the loss as a learning experience and believes he will grow the most by the adversity. He returned this July at Bellator 224 with a second-round TKO victory of veteran fighter Kiichi Kunimoto.
“I wanted everyone to know that I am not here to just fight,” Ruth said. “I’m here to be the best fighter that the MMA scene has ever seen. I constantly say that because I want to believe in that. It doesn’t matter if I lose because I will come back. I felt that way about my wrestling career and feel the same about my MMA career. Nothing shakes me. I can come back from the dead.”
The former Nittany Lion returns this Friday at Bellator 231, when he takes on LFA welterweight champion Jason Jackson on the main card. Jackson is a veteran of the Ultimate Fighter and Dana White’s Contender Series, who is well known for his well-rounded fight game. Ruth knows how dangerous the Hard Knocks 365 team member is and wants to use his wrestling prowess to gain the victory.
“First and foremost, I always want to go out there and protect myself. If he wants it to go on the feet, then I am going to take him down. I’ve seen his fights and he doesn’t want to wrestle a lot and I’m an avid wrestler… I want to go in there and be smart and take the least amount of damage.”
Ruth has acknowledged that if he focusing strictly on his wrestling, he won’t reach his lofty goals of being the very best.
“I pride myself a lot on being able to fight both southpaws and orthodox fighters. I pride myself on being a complete fighter. I definitely want people to say ‘wow, his striking has come a long way.’
Ruth and Jackson face off this Friday at Bellator 231, going down from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connectcut. The main card airs on Paramount Network starting at 9PM ET.