Ryan (The Real Deal) Ford has plenty to look forward to.
A Bellator show beckons after his main event Saturday night against Ricky Goodall at Aggression MMA 9 at Edmonton's Shaw Conference Centre.
The 29-year-old welterweight from Edmonton is now training at Tristar in Montreal and feels, some 20 fights into his career, that he is finally on the right track.
The coaching is top-notch and so are his training partners.
"I feel that I'm soaking a lot more in," Ford said.
He also believes he missed out on such high-level training earlier in his career.
"But you know what, it is what it is," he said. "I'm doing it now."
He started at Tristar last fall, spending five weeks preparing for a mid-December fight that eventually was cancelled. He came home for Christmas and then flew back east after the holidays to resume training.
That meant saying goodbye again to his wife and two young kids.
"That's one of the main struggles, leaving the family to get out there and train. But my family's behind me 100 per cent and they know what I need to do to become one of the best fighters and to provide for them."
Goodall (9-4) was a late replacement for Tyson (The Man of) Steele, who was sidelined by a knee injury.
"It doesn't really change much," Ford said. "I'm going to go out there and do my thing, set the pace and don't worry about what he's going to do. Make him worry about what I'm going to do."
Ford (16-4) likes to come out pedal to the metal. He can overwhelm opponents or leave himself open.
Of his 20 fights, only two have gone the distance, with Ford winning one and losing one.
"I don't want to be leaving it to the judges," he said. "I like to get in there and finish fights, and make them exciting and explosive."
Last time out at AMMA 8 in September, he was caught in a guillotine choke and lost to David Hulett in 95 seconds. That ended a four-fight win streak, which featured victories over Nick Hinchliffe, Karo Parisyan, Johnny Davis and Pete Spratt.
He blames the Hulett loss on a lack of focus, citing some ongoing contract issues.
"You learn how to deal with those things," he said. "Now I'm ready, I'm focused. There's nothing distracting me at all."
Ford confirmed he will be making his Bellator debut in a few months, probably in May at Rama, Ont.
"First of all is Ricky Goodall," he said. "That's the guy who's standing in my way right now and I've to get through him before I think of anything else."