The right to fight

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:15 AM ET

The fight to get Ryan (Real Deal) Ford a fight is over, now the real bloodletting begins.

Fresh from a legal tug-of-war over his services that landed a couple of rival mixed martial arts companies in court, the 170-pounder is ready to let his fists do the talking from now on.

"I have to prove that I'm here to be their title holder," said Ford, who'll make his debut with The Fight Club tomorrow night at the Shaw Conference Centre on a card dubbed Full Throttle. "I have to make a big impression on Saturday night."

Landing the 170-pound Edmontonian - the son of former Canadian lightweight boxing champ Al Ford - wasn't easy.

"When you sign big acts, big names, big personalities, things aren't always smooth," said TFC spokesman Dean Panas.

It wasn't.

Ford, who used to fight for Mark Pavelich's MFC, developed a strong local following in Edmonton and tried to leverage that popularity into a significant pay hike. Pavelich balked, so Ford swung a five-fight deal with TFC president Mark Sinclair.

Pavelich, in turn, took the issue to court, arguing Ford was still under contract to MFC.

"It was a three-fight contract that was dated to end July 25," said Sinclair.

"The three fights were completed, so in my mind and in Ryan's mind the contract was done. But MFC felt differently so they took it to court to try and get an injunction."

A judge ruled that since Ford had completed three fights, the July 25 date was irrelevant and the 170-pounder was a free agent who could scrap wherever he pleased.

"I think (Pavelich) wanted me to still fight for him, and at the same time jerk his competition around a little," said Ford, adding Pavelich's company did a lot for his career.

"Where I am today is because of me putting the time in the gym, but their promotion was pretty big in Edmonton.

"Then I got a new (MFC) contract sent to me and I didn't think it was what I should be getting paid when I'm fighting all these big name guys that he's bringing in, and I'm selling 400, 500 tickets for him. I didn't think he was being fair with me."

So he left.

"Stuff happens and you just have to follow the road," said Ford.

"So I'm here today at The Fight Club."

He'll get it on tonight against Alaska's Dave (Pain Train) Mazany (5-2). It's hard to imagine TFC's new star would be matched up against somebody they didn't think he could whup, not in his debut with the company, but pushovers aren't good for business, either, so Mazany should fall somewhere in between.

"People think in the first fight you're going to give him a cakewalk, but that's not the expectation at all," said Panas. "We're here to put on a show."

They hope his following will pay dividends for TFC right off the bat.

"Ryan has a tremendous following here, he's a very exciting fighter with international exposure," said Sinclair.

"He's very popular with the fans here in Edmonton and we're a local promotion trying to appeal to the fans in Edmonton."

"All my fans from MFC are going to be coming over to The Fight Club," added Ford. who's glad all the legal hassles are behind him and he can concentrate on fighting.

This is a big time for him, he needs to live up to the contract and the hype and all the bickering it took to get him into TFC.

"I've seen (Mazany) fight, he's a wild, aggressive fighter. He gave (TFC champ) Claude Patrick all he could handle, but I'm not sure he can give me all that I can handle.

"Dave hasn't been hit by somebody like me, he's never fought anybody like me, he probably doesn't know anybody like me.

"Come Saturday night he's going to know what the Real Deal is all about."


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