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Canadian lightweight Jesse Ronson ready to unleash the beast on UFC card

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - After two straight losses, Canadian lightweight Jesse (The Body Snatcher) Ronson knows he is at a crossroads in his UFC career as he steps into the cage to face Kevin (The Motown Phenom) Lee on Sunday.

"There is a lot of pressure because this is it. I have to win. If I don't win, I'm gone," said the 28-year-old from London, Ont. "So I will win this fight.

"I wouldn't really consider it pressure," he clarified. "It's more motivation. I have to win and win impressively."

A new approach to his training camp and time with a sports psychologist have helped his cause.

"I had a few fears that I've gotten over now," he said. "I've added a few people and I've taken a few people out in my camp so I expect to see a different kind of monster July 6."

Ronson (13-4) will unleash the beast against Lee on the undercard of "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 19 finale at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Former lightweight champion Frankie (The Answer) Edgar takes on former lightweight and welterweight title-holder B.J. (The Prodigy) Penn in the featherweight main event.

They are two of Ronson's favourite fighters. "I'm just super-excited to be on the card," he said.

The 21-year-old Lee, one of the youngest fighters on the UFC roster, lost his UFC debut to Al Iaquinta at UFC 169 in February.

Ronson credits Lee (7-1) with solid boxing and wrestling skills but says he will be overmatched.

"He's young, he's athletic ... I just don't think he has what it takes," the Canadian said.

"Right now it's just not his time and I'm going to show that," he added.

Ronson's past fears included gassing out during a bout. He admits he started slowly in his UFC debut, to conserve energy. And after talking a powerful early blow in his second bout, he started worrying about whether he could take such damage later on if he was running low on energy.

"It got in my head," he said.

A new diet and revamped training regimen have given him confidence in his stamina. "Getting tired is not an issue any more."

Ronson says he feels better about himself than ever before.

"That's something I can say that I didn't have the last two fights. This fight, for sure, I feel more aggressive — as aggressive as I used to be but now I'm smarter, I'm a better fighter, I'm more skilled.

"It's not like I'm going to bring the old Body Snatcher back because me right now I would kick the crap out of that old Body Snatcher. You're going to see a new and improved Body Snatcher."

Ronson, who divides his training between Adrenaline Training Centre in London and Para Bellum MMA in Oakville, says his preparations for this fight have been his best ever. That included staying at his coach's house in Hamilton three days a week to avoid the commute from London to Oakville.

"Less hassle of driving, less money, less stress," he said.

Ronson was 13 when he set a goal of fighting in the UFC. He's accomplished that and now Sunday, he will tick off another box by fighting in Las Vegas.

Ronson's UFC road has not been easy. He was a late injury replacement last September against Michel Prazeres, a tree trunk of a fighter, and then had to go to Brazil in February to face Francisco Trinaldo. The losses snapped an eight-fight win streak that had got him into the UFC.

"Those two guys were both very tough," said Ronson. "I feel like if I fought them now, with this training camp and with everything that I'm doing, I would beat both of them for sure."

Ronson says he failed mentally against Trinaldo last time out. He and his camp had watched fight after fight and the Brazilian always fought the same.

But against Ronson, he changed strategies. He was smaller, in better shape, threw kicks with both legs and looked to counter rather than constantly moving forward.

"He was a completely different fighter. It was like he completely revamped himself and it really threw me off."

Ronson did not adapt and lost. Today, he looks back and calls it a "huge learning experience."

"I was so aggravated and upset with the way things were going, that I was just dumb and plodded forward and plodded forward. I didn't use my angles, I didn't move my head, I didn't do anything. I was just completely off."

Fighting in Jaragua, Brazil, was also an eye-opener.

"The Brazilian fans weren't too welcoming until the fight was over," he recalled. "They were yelling and screaming 'We're going to kill you' and 'You're going to die' and stuff like that."

Ronson was perhaps more thrown off by the fact that he and his opponent were rushed to the ring at the same time, due to tight television timing after a string of decisions on the card.

His handlers wouldn't let him go for a run in Brazil prior to the fight, saying it might be dangerous. But Ronson was more taken aback by something else he discovered on his trip.

"They didn't have peanut butter there," he said. "No peanut butter."

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