With Bellator’s Welterweight Grand Prix coming to a close following the promotion’s Saturday night main event between (C) Rory MacDonald (21-5-1) and Douglas Lima (31-7), Friday’s Bellator 231 main card features a compelling matchup between Grand Prix participant “EZ” Ed Ruth (7-1) and TUF Season 21 contestant, former Titan FC welterweight champ Jason “The Ass-Kicking Machine” Jackson (10-3).
A camp change from Alliance MMA in San Diego to San Jose’s American Kickboxing Academy paid immediate dividends as Ruth was able to rebound from his first career loss to Neiman Gracie (9-1), earning a second round TKO victory over UFC and RIZIN-vet Kiichi Kunimoto (20-8-2, 1 NC) in July. Ruth’s 79-inch reach, a six-and-a-half-inch advantage, played a significant role in the win with left jabs and low kicks easily thrown from distance from an orthodox stance. Speaking with Fight Night Picks, Ruth took the time to outline his preparation for this upcoming fight.
“Training camp’s been going well,” said Ruth. “Honestly, real happy that I made the move down to AKA. Feel like everything’s been going great, I feel real confident going into this next fight.”
When asked if the move to Northern California was a big change, Ruth was quick and to the point.
“No, not really at all,” said Ruth with a laugh. “Kinda just hopped in the truck and just drove the U-Haul down.”
A 4-time Division 1 All-American and 3-time NCAA National Champion representing Penn State, the transition to AKA was made even easier with top wrestling sparring partners in former UFC double champ Daniel Cormier, lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, Cain Velasquez and others. The move has also helped to add more tools to Ruth’s game as well as to fine tune some other aspects of his skillset.
“Just a lot more striking, a lot more, you know, transitions from striking to wrestling to Jiu-Jitsu” said Ruth. “I just feel like over here you get a lot of looks, over here you know, a lot of guys, if he’s not a striker then he’s a wrestler, and if he’s not a wrestler he’s a pretty good Jiu-Jitsu guy, so it’s a pretty good mix here.”
Ruth even had the opportunity to train heavily with another All-American in Deron Winn ahead of his fight with Darren Stewart at UFC Boston.
“Honestly I think it was probably me and him that spent a lot of time in the cage together.”
Looking ahead to the task at hand, Hard Knocks 365’s Jackson certainly poses a tough test. A tough loss to Kyle Stewart by way of an ankle injury on DWCS Season One in 2017, Jackson’s gone on to win three in a row and two in 2019. When asked how he game plans for upcoming fights, Ruth talked about the importance of tape study and knowing opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.
“His style, you know I’ve watched him fight a couple fights,” said Ruth. “He’s not much of a wrestler, but you know I definitely see that he has some striking and I definitely see that our fight is going to probably, majority of the time, I do see it being on the feet.”
“I do a lot of it myself (with regards to tape study). I feel like as a fighter, when you’re in that cage you’ve got to think for yourself you know? That coach isn’t going to fight for you.”
With the Grand Prix coming to a close and plenty of skilled fighters in the division, moving forward Ruth is looking to face some of the top talent the promotion has to offer.
“I definitely want to get back in the running,” said Ruth when asked what’s next. “Start going against some of these top guys in the welterweight division. I want to see some of these MVPs, some of these Paul Daleys and Limas, you know, I want to show people that I came to fight.”