VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Mike Easton enters Saturday's Ultimate Fighting Championship bout with Yves Jabouin on a dreaded three-fight losing streak, his job potentially in jeopardy with one more defeat.
If that weren't enough to overcome, the Washington, D.C. native now enters hostile territory, facing a Canadian at this weekend's UFC 174 event at Vancouver's Rogers Arena.
Easton (13-4 mixed martial arts, 3-3 UFC) meets fellow 135-pounder Jabouin (19-9, 4-3) on the FOX Sports 1-televised preliminary card (8 p.m. ET), which precedes the night's five-bout main card (pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET).
Competing on an opponent's home soil is never an easy task, especially in a fight-crazed country like Canada, where MMA fans are some of the most passionate. While some fighters would have reservations about entering such unfavorable conditions, Easton said he thrives off it.
"I love it," Easton told MMAjunkie. "As long as I can fight, I'm happy. If it's my town, somebody else's town or somebody else's country, it doesn't matter where I'm fighting. I'm going to put on a show and win."
Winning is something Easton has struggled to do lately. After starting his career with 13 wins in 14 fights (including a 3-0 run to open his UFC tenure), the 30-year-old has fell into a slump, losing three straight on MMA's biggest stage.
The UFC releases most fighters who suffer such skids, but Easton is one of the exceptions. He believes that's due to his fan friendly fighting style.
"If you watch all my fights, I bring it every single time," Easton said. "I don't even worry about that or think about it. A fight's a fight. Win, lose or draw, Mike Easton was in that cage, and people remember me."
Easton may currently feel confident about his job security, but another loss would be a crucial blow to his standing with the organization. But even with so much on the line, the former contender claims he doesn't feel any extra pressure.
"I enjoy doing this, so there's never going to be any pressure on me to perform," Easton said. "I know what my skillset is and what I can do when it comes to MMA. There's never added pressure. I don't listen to the voices of limitation. I have no limits, and I'm not intimidated by anybody. I fear no man. There's no pressure. The wins are going to come, and it's going to start this weekend."
To help him end his current skid, Easton kept his UFC 174 training camp local. He spent the majority of his time with Team Lloyd Irvin in Camp Springs, Md., working on his submission and wrestling deficiencies, two areas that opponents have exploited. But now Easton feels he's shored up the previous holes in his game.
One thing Easton can't train for, though, is unpredictable judging in MMA. After seeing his part-time teammate Ross Pearson get robbed of a June 7 victory in opponent Diego Sanchez's home state of New Mexico, Easton knows a definitive win is necessary if he's going to beat Jabouin on his home turf.
Despite entering the bout as a 2-1 favorite, Easton faces plenty of hurdles. But he's confident he can reclaim contender status and eventually win a UFC title.
"I am in enemy territory in the wonderful country of Canada, and I feel like I have to finish my fight," Easton said. "I'm definitely top 10 and one of the best in the division. My goal is definitely to still get that belt."