Coming off back-to-back losses, UFC light heavyweight Ike Villanueva knows his UFC Vegas 52 opponent, Tyson Pedro, has all the hype.
Pedro, who last fought in 2018, is also coming off two straight losses. But finally returning to action after overcoming a serious injury, the momentum is on his side. And Villanueva (18-13) is looking to steal that hype.
“I’m fighting this young kid, coming off ACL surgery. He’s got all the hype. Let’s go, man,” a clearly enthused Villanueva told The Top Turtle Podcast on Cageside Press ahead of the fight.
“Hurricane” Ike understands exactly what it means to return from ACL surgery, as Pedro is doing. “I’ve been an athlete all my life. Football, rugby, I’ve played the toughest sports. He’s coming off one of the ugliest injuries anyone can come off of, coming off an ACL injury. For a kicker. God bless the dude, he came back, he bit down, he’s coming back in to action. But hey man, he’s biting the bone, and he threw the bone at the wrong dog. Because hey, this guy don’t back up, man. I’m looking forward to— I’m going to meet him in the middle, and let’s go to work. Because he has all the hype.”
Part of that hype stems from Pedro training with fellow Australian heavyweight Tai Tuivasa, but Villanueva likes to remind people that “He is not Tai. He trains with Tai Tuivasa, but he is not Tai.”
“Tai Tuivasa’s a bad dude, I’ll give it to him,” Villanueva acknowledged. Regardless of size or physique, “he brings it. That’s my style, I’m the same way. Let’s get down to grit, and let’s throw down.”
But again, Pedro isn’t Tai, and as Ike Villanueva sees it, “This fight is a fight for me to steal that shine, and really come up with this fight. So I look forward to really putting on a show.”
He also knows it’s important to bounce back after some bumps in the road to start his run with the organization. “My UFC career, I had some B.S. I call it B.S., sh*t didn’t go my way. But I can really turn it around with this. When I fought [Marcin] Prachnio, first punch I threw at Prachnio, I broke his world. And I really had that fight and I let that fight slip away. So I’ve really got to bite down and really bring that pain. Tyson, he’s going to try to shoot, or he’s going to throw the head kick. Which ever one, I’ll be ready for it. I’m looking forward to putting on a show.”
Ike Villanueva faces Tyson Pedro at UFC Vegas 52 this Saturday, April 23, 2022 at the Apex in Las Vegas.