On Saturday night The Ultimate Fighter 9 winner Ross Pearson will fight for the 13th time in his career, yet in many ways it will feel like the first.

“I haven’t done anything in the world of mixed martial arts yet, to be honest with you,” Pearson admitted to MMAjunkie.com. “‘The Ultimate Fighter’ was a learning curve. It was a testing ground to see how I would cope. I think now, this is where my official career starts.”

With a 9-3 record to date he’s no newcomer to the sport,  but there is some truth to what Pearson says. His career up until the TUF reality show had been spent fighting solely for small UK based promotions, while working during the day as a bricklayer.

The difference between fighting in small venues around the country, and now a year later stepping into the UFC’s octagon at the MEN arena in front of millions of people worldwide hasn’t escaped the  25 year old’s attention.

“I’m super excited, but I’m thinking, ‘[Expletive], man, there’s 20,000 people in there.’ It’s a crazy mixed feeling, but I think I’ll be fine.”

Meanwhile, despite only being three years older than Pearson, his opponent Aaron Riley is worlds apart in terms of experience.

With 40 fights under his belt for a string of well known promotions he is heading into the fight in a more relaxed frame of mind, but he understands how Pearson will be feeling.

“It’s easier for me,he told mmaweekly.  “I’ve been in his position before, and you definitely feel added pressure, but the trick is to turn that around and use that as a positive, so we’ll see how he adjusts to that.”

Nerves or not, one thing both fighters seem sure of is that a win would be a significant boost to their respective careers.

“It’s a great opponent for me and for my career,” Pearson said. “You’re testing yourself. For my career, it’s just going to boost me up where I want to be and going in the right direction.

Riley also sees the benefits of a win. “It would be good, because he’s definitely got a lot of attention on him for winning the show,” he says.

“Hopefully, with that win, it would put me in a position where they would think maybe we can give him a couple of fights against a top ten fighter, and then if I can get those match-ups, we’ll see what happens.