How Aussie Shannon Ross landed on Dana White’s Contender Series


Shannon Ross will never forget, just days before Christmas, having to tell his wife that he had just cost the family $20,000.

It was two years ago.

In the midst of the Covid pandemic.

With Ross, a mechanic from the Gold Coast and father of four, who just took – and won – a massive fight in Abu Dhabi as part of his continued push towards a UFC contract.

But the bad news?

Along with breaking his hand in said win, Ross was also calling home to tell his partner Bec how, uh, the only flights out of the country for him and his trainer skyrocketed to $7,500 – each .

“And then quarantine at home was another four grand,” he recalled.

“Bec and I had just had our fourth child.

“We were also renovating the house.

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Australian flyweight Shannon Ross with her Eternal title.Source: Supplied

“And the costs of hotel quarantine, we were okay with that. I had already decided that we were happy to wear this for my career.

“But learning that the only flights home for three months was going to cost me $15,000? Yeah, that call started with ‘hey baby…aaah…I just lost us some money.’

Speaking now from his hotel room inside the Palace Station Casino, Las Vegas, Ross talks about his incredible rise from Tugun Seahawks fullback to potential UFC flyweight star.

Early Wednesday morning (AEST), this 33-year-old mechanic from the Gold Coast will enter the biggest fight of his career when he seeks to land a UFC contract on Dana White’s Contender Series.

After taking the last five weeks off to train full time, Ross takes on Brazilian Vinicius Salvador.

As well as fighting in front of UFC President White, it will also be the first time Australia’s Eternal flyweight champion has thrown his hand in nearly two years – and the same Abu Dhabi card that cost him 20 000, a unanimous decision against American Donavon Frelow.

It all continues the incredible rise of this guy who, in his early 20s, was throwing himself as a 65kg fullback.

Australian flyweight Shannon Ross (right) fights in Eternal MMA.Source: Supplied

“Which was difficult,” laughs Ross of his football career. “Hit my body for little more than the glory of winning on a Sunday afternoon.

“And because the footy was taking its toll, I finally decided to give it away. I just started going to a local boxing and MMA gym to stay in shape.

Or so he thought.

“I hadn’t been there long when my trainer said, ‘I have a fight for you,'” Ross continues. “So I told him ‘no, man, I don’t want to fight. I’m just here to stay in shape, stay out of trouble’.

“But he was a big Swede, like a Viking, and he said if I wasn’t going to fight I had to leave the gym.

“Which was a weird ultimatum, but I accepted.”

Better, Ross then went on to win his MMA debut via knockout.

The start of a run that by the end of 2019 – and with the UFC in Australia for a title blockbuster between Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya – would see him meet company matchmaker Mick Maynard.

Australian flyweight Shannon Ross.Source: Supplied

“I flew to Melbourne for a sit down meeting,” recalls the fighter who is also the father of Taiah (15), Lacey (14), Nixon (6) and Havanii (3).

“And Mick, he wanted to sign me. He said he had been watching me for a long time.

“But then Covid kicked in and stopped everything.

“So it took a while.

“I worked 40 hours a week as a mechanic, training around it, then coming home at night to try and help my wife with our family.

“Which has been hectic, definitely.

“But now I’m here.

“One day out of a UFC contract.”

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