Steven Peterson (17-7) is a rising prospect in the UFC’s featherweight division. The 28-year-old is scheduled to make his third promotional appearance against popular lightweight, Luis “Violent Bob Ross” Pena, at UFC Fight Night 148 in Nashville on March 23.
In an interview with The Body Lock’s John Hyon Ko, Peterson previewed the matchup and gave his thoughts on the hype surrounding his opponent, along with speaking about a litany of other topics.
Pena (5-1), 25, is one of the most talked-about prospects at lightweight, though he’ll be moving to featherweight to face Peterson. The American Kickboxing Academy product rose to prominence on the Ultimate Fighter Season 27, where he was an eventual tournament semi-finalist.
Steven Peterson, a professional since 2010, doesn’t believe The Ultimate Fighter is all that.
“I feel like they don’t really have the best talent on the show, but they have some personalities. When I was young, I wanted to go on the show, and then after I got a lot of experience, I was like, ‘Man, I’d like to get into the UFC without having to spend a month or six weeks in the Ultimate Fighter house,” Peterson said.
However, Peterson notes that being on the show is a great way to get yourself in front of as many people as possible.
“But, they do build you up. They build up your personality, your fanbase; people get to know you.”
Pena, Peterson says, is one of those built-up fighters.
“Like, Luis Pena. He really hasn’t done much in the sport – he’s only 5-1; hasn’t gotten any titles or anything like that – but he’s a fan favorite at this point. A lot of people know who he is because of the show, so it’s great for building a good fanbase, but I feel like Dana White’s Contender Series is a much better platform for bringing in high-level talent and building contenders, future champions.”
Peterson is a veteran of the Contender Series himself, having competed against Benito Lopez in an all-out bantamweight barnburner on the 2017 season of the show.
In his last fight, Luis Pena fought to a split-decision loss to Mike Trizano. In the words of the legendary and newly-retired Georges St. Pierre, Peterson wasn’t impressed by his performance.
“I thought he looked pretty sloppy, honestly, in all areas of the game [against Trizano]. He was outstruck in that fight, he was shooting sloppy for takedowns… if he shows up like that in this fight, he’s going to get hurt. No doubt about it.”
After the loss, Pena announced his intentions of dropping down a weight class, from lightweight to featherweight. Peterson, who will welcome him to the division, says that’s ill-advised.
“Why would you go down a weight class when you’re already so skinny and tall at 155?” Peterson wondered. “I feel like he’s making a big mistake in dropping down to featherweight. He was already super skinny, and I think he’s just going to be super frail at 145.”
At any rate, Peterson is ready for war on March 23, and he’s been looking for any weaknesses in the game of “Violent Bob Ross.”
“Oh, I see tons of holes. Without going too much into how I’m going to exploit them, I think he’s banking on the fact that since he’s gonna be bigger, that that’s gonna play a role in this fight, but I think it’s gonna play an adverse role.”
Weight cutting aside, Steven Peterson is counting on his experience to be the deciding factor.
“I’ve fought at way higher level competition throughout my whole career, honestly. I’ve been there, done that. He did do The Ultimate Fighter, which gave him some good experience, but I was XKO champion in Texas; Legacy [FC] champ, which is a world title. I’ve accomplished a lot of things in my career, and he really hasn’t accomplished anything in his career.
“So when I go out there, I’m gonna show that experience. The longer the fight goes on, that experience is gonna show through. No doubt.”
“The weight cut’s really gonna hurt him. He’s not gonna be able to go three rounds. I don’t see it making it out of the first.”
Watch Steven Peterson’s full interview with John Hyon Ko on Kumite TV below, and subscribe for more interviews:
Michael Fiedel is The Body Lock's deputy editor, a staff writer for FloCombat, and a Russell-Rice scholarship recipient at Vanderbilt University.