Growing up in Los Angeles, California, Fortis MMA's Steven "Ocho" Peterson (17-7 4 KO) took an unusual route to the UFC. Global Fight Talk had the honor of speaking with Peterson, who described the origins of his nickname and his path to becoming a professional fighter.
After moving to Texas when he was only 15-years-old, Peterson wore the number 8 when he began playing football for McKinney High School. "I ended up getting into a fight on the football field. That lead to everyone in the school knowing me as 'Ocho' and I was known for fighting." Peterson embraced this, and started what he called "Fight Night". "I invited everybody over and we went into my backyard and put on some MMA gloves and basically just went at it with no rules. I kind of fell in love with fighting at that point." After discovering his passion, "Ocho" wasted no time. He began training as soon as he could and just 30 days later, competed in his first ameture MMA bout. He fell short in his debut but bounced back by winning his next 5 fights and turning professional shortly after.
As a professional, Peterson fought his way to the UFC with a 16-6 record, gaining a reputation for his incredible toughness on the way. He is what you call "A fan's fighter" who fights with an exciting pace and forces action out of his opponents. "I'm not trying to win on the score cards. I'm going in there trying to break my opponent". He spoke about his work rate in the cage and how it forces fatigue upon opposing fighters. "Most people can't handle that for 3 rounds. Definitely not 5", he explained. This fighting style has certainly benefited Peterson in his first 2 UFC fights. He lost his debut under the organization by a close decision, but showed the aggression and attitude that the UFC and it's fans crave, earning himself and his opponent Brandon Davis (9-5 3 KO) the "Fight Of The Night" bonus of $50,000. When asked about the fight, he described it as "Bitter sweet" and added, "I learned to be more strategic." Following the bout. He then won the ensuing bout via decision over Matt Bessette (22-9 7 KO) and showcased his versatility in the process. As good of a striker as Peterson is, what makes him such a complex opponent is his excellent composure and technique while grappling. He explained his desire to take strikers to the ground and to keep the fight standing against grapplers. "It's always just attack my opponent where they're weak".
Peterson is now scheduled to fight TUF alum Luis Pena (5-1 1 KO) March 23rd at UFC Fight Night 148. When asked about how he plans to nullify Pena's 8-inch reach advantage, he was simple in his response. "Expect a lot of violence". He also spoke a bit about his goals. "My goal for this year is to be ranked. Obviously my long term goal is to become UFC Champion. I'm definitely capable. I just need to execute over and over and show consistency. I think that can happen in the next few years."
Outside of the cage, Peterson is enjoying even more success. He wisely invested the money from his "Fight Of The Night" bonus to start his own business "Fight Fit Lifestyle" that specializes in cryotherapy and CDB oils. "I invested my money so in the long term it'll be able to make me money." At 28-years-old, its apparent that "Ocho" is a young, hungry, exciting fighter with his head on straight; the future looks bright for him