After starting his professional MMA career in 2009 and going undefeated in his first six fights, with all of his wins coming via TKO in the Canadian regional circuit, Gross was prematurely thrown to the wolves in Bellator and the Score Fighting Series and went on a three fight losing streak in 2011.
Young, up and coming fighters aren’t always in a position to pick and choose their fights wisely and due to his record and reputation, Gross got caught taking fights on short notice and he ultimately paid the price. The aggressive but green Gross was over matched against tough Brazilian Alexandre Bezerra at Bellator 47, and Bezerra choked him out with a rear naked choke early in the first round. He then took a fight on short notice against beast Daron Cruickshank for the Score Fighting Series and got knocked out. Cruickshank is now in the UFC and “The Detroit Superstar” is one of the most promising young lightweights in the sport.
I spoke with Gross recently if he felt it was wise to take those fights so early in his career.
“It finally caught up with me. I had six wins before that but a lot of those fights I should not have been taking either. A couple of them I took on a week’s notice and even less than that. It just so happened I was winning those fights so when they offered me Bezerra on short notice and then they gave me Cruickshank on five days notice I was just like the hell with it let’s do it bring em.”
Gross trains at the Adrenaline Training Center in London under the tutelage of his manager, UFC fighter and Dresden native Chris Clements. It’s clear that Clements sees a bright future in the sport for Gross.
“Jesse is one of those guys who is naturally gifted and tough as nails. One of the toughest people I’ve ever met in my life in terms of just being able to fight without technically doing it but he’s been coming around and learning not to just slug. He’s learning more of a game plan aspect to it so I see him staying on the team this year and getting back to where he was before.”
“He had a really rough year in 2011 no question with that stupid loss and then he got thrown into a fight that he never should have been in. Then he was hard up for money and he fought Daron Cruickshank when I told him not to but, he just had a couple bad things happen to him in one year and I think he’s going to turn it around. As long as he stay focussed and keeps working hard and learning like he is doing. I do see him being in the big show some day because I don’t see anyone being able to beat Jesse if he takes the time to learn the techniques right.”
“The thing with me and Clements is that he believes in me right so, basically I am my own worst enemy because Chris has never called me with a fight that I have said not to, so. I don’t even need a name, just a date is usually my first question and then I just go.”
Gross has always been one of the naturally toughest guys I have ever come across and he is not going to turn down a fight with anybody. His attitude is old school and he reminds me of a Diaz brother in his no nonsense approach. It is that attitude, along with his brawling fighting style that has gained Gross some popularity and a following in the regional circuit of Ontario. It is also that attitude that has hurt him a bit along the way.
After his recent, dominant win over Seiji Sugiman-Marangos, Gross declared that this is the arrival of “The Ghost 2.0” and I wondered if he will take a more cerebral approach when he fights from here on in.
“Honestly I would probably say no.” He laughed “Some things don’t change. The only difference now is that I am trying to stick in with that 145-pound weight class. The only problem with that is that it is a big cut for me.”
Gross walks around in the low 170’s and would probably have to change his eating habits twelve months a year to be able to be comfortable at that weight. At the very least, it prevents him from taking anymore fights on short notice as he needs at least a two month camp to get to that weight.
A driven and focused Gross is a hand full for anyone at featherweight outside of the UFC and is poised to have a very solid 2013.