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Pearson: Professional Cruz will be 100% for Barao

ESPN staff
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Ross Pearson has guaranteed that training partner Dominick Cruz will be 100 per cent fit and firing against Renan Barao - if his recovery dictates that the Brazilian is his next rival.

Bantamweight champion Cruz has been missing for months due to a torn knee, sparking UFC president Dana White to admit he might soon have to contemplate stripping the American of his title should he suffer another setback.

Such is the serious nature of Cruz's injury that doubt has been raised over his ability to step right back in with a man of Barao's quality - the Brazilian currently boasting the interim belt and a long win streak.

However, Pearson knows Cruz better than most due to their Team Alliance link-up, and he insists the champ is so professional that when he returns, it will be a guarantee that he is ready to dominate once again.

"Dominick is moving around, he's still in the stages of rehab. He can't wrestle or spar at the moment so he's coaching the rest of us," Pearson told the ESPN UFC Podcast. "There's a positive attitude. He wants to get back in, he's really competitive.

"He's looked at both sides to the story; whether he gets stripped and needs a tune-up, or if he goes in and fights Renan.

"If he fights Renan, stylistically it's a good match-up for Dominick. And if Dominick fights Renan, he'll be ready for sure."

Pearson has his own fight on which to concentrate at UFC Sweden this weekend, meeting the awkward Ryan Couture. The Brit, though, insists he has reached a level where he would back himself against any lightweight in the world.

"I'm in the best shape of my life, like it's a championship fight. I believe I should be in the top-ten and I believe I can fight anybody on the planet," Pearson said.

"I think the stand-up will be tricky, he doesn't engage, he throws strikes to close the distance fast, or throws to get away. He doesn't stand in the pocket or throw leg kicks.

"It's going to be tricky to control the range and the distance, but as soon as I crack that code, I'll land my big power shots and that'll be that."

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