Ross Houston is a former Cage Warriors champion and now fights for Bellator MMA
I am one of four brothers and growing up we were all into one sport or another. My dad was a good amateur boxer, so was my granddad, and I remember as a kid me and my brothers would put on the gloves and have a good punch-up in the garden. AsI’m the second youngest that meant I was on the end of a fair few hidings, but I guess it toughened me up.
I wasn’t a bad kid, but as teenager I started getting into a bit of bother. Nothing serious, but while my brothers were always playing football, or studying hard and heading off to university, I was a bit lost and got into a few scrapes. But then a friend introduced me to a mixed martial arts gym and I never looked back.
Learning to fight properly was something I was meant to do. Walking into that gym was the moment my life opened up. My friend stopped training after a while, but I had found my home and put everything I had into becoming the best fighter possible.
I have been a professional since 2012 and I became the Cage Warriors welterweight world champion in 2018. I have only lost one fight, against Michael Venom Page, and it went the distance. But everyone has setbacks and this is nothing more than a bump in the road. You have to expect knocks at the top of a sport that is tougher on your mind and body than most people can even imagine.
But that is why I love it. I have always said that my mindset is the thing that makes the difference for me. There are tons of talented people out there, but to succeed as a fighter you need the right mind, one that is committed to grinding every day, not just getting up for fight day. You have to put the work in, even when you don’t feel like it, and stay home while you watch your mates go out partying.
Nobody can fight forever, but at 31 I am just coming into my prime. Whenever I do decide to finally stop fighting professionally, I will stay working in martial arts. I run the only MMA gym in the Scottish Highlands, and I love teaching, passing on everything I have learnt and helping young fighters who are coming up.
Apart from the odd part-time job as a kid, martial arts is the only thing I’ve ever done. It’s how I pay the bills, but it’s more than just a job. Fighting is my life, and whatever happens with my career I will be able to look myself in the mirror and say that I never backed away from a fight, and I always put everything possible into being the very best fighter I can be.
Ross runs the Highland Martial Arts Centre in Inverness. He was talking to Richard Holt.