There are downsides to training far from home. Ryan Ford knows this, and his family does, too.
But the upside for him is that if you're going to be away from your comfort zone, you might as well do it with some of the best in the world.
And that's just what Ford believes he's doing now that he has taken up with the team at Tristar Gym in Montreal.
Ford (18-4 MMA, 1-0 BFC) meets Kyle Baker (12-6 MMA, 0-0 BFC) on Friday at Bellator 79, which takes place at Casino Rama in Rama, Ontario, Canada. The main card airs on MTV2 following prelims on Spike.com. The whole card also can be watched on MMAjunkie.com
Ford hopes to keep making a solid impression on Bellator after winning his debut with a second-round TKO of Luis Ramos this past May. Taking out Baker could put him in line to get into the promotion's next welterweight tournament in 2013. And Ford credits Tristar and coach Firas Zahabi for helping him make a big transformation in fight preparation.
"I basically fought my first 17 fights just training with local guys in my area," Ford told MMAjunkie.com. "Now I'm training at one of the best gyms in the world at Tristar alongside some of the best welterweights in the sport. Right now, we have Georges (St-Pierre) getting ready for his fight and Rory (MacDonald) getting ready for his fight, along with all of the other animals that are down there.
"It's a blessing that Tristar took me in. This is my second home now and the results speak for themselves. You can see the difference between me a year ago and the level I'm performing at today."
St-Pierre, of course, is preparing to return after a 19-month layoff to defend his UFC welterweight title against Carlos Condit, and MacDonald will face future UFC Hall of Famer B.J. Penn in December. Not bad running mates to have for a fight camp.
"This is the toughest training camp I've ever been in," Ford said. "Not only because I want to impress everyone, but also because you have these monsters in here that are training for their own fights."
But the Canadian, who never has fought outside of his home country in his pro career, also has to make sacrifices to roll with a crew like the one at Tristar. Montreal is a lengthy flight from his home in Edmonton, Alberta.
So he hopes the sacrifice of being away from family for so long is worth it.
"Being so far away from my wife and children has kept me that much more motivated while I've been training for this fight," he said. "Come fight night, it will be six and a half weeks since I've seen them. It has me really looking forward to getting in that cage, putting it on Kyle Baker and getting back home to see my babies."
And Ford plans on putting it on Baker by doing what he's done all along in his career, and that's never stopping.
Ford has won six of his past seven fights, and just one of his 18 victories has been by decision.
"It's a fight, so you better be ready to put me away or I'm going to end up putting you away," Ford said. "Luis Santos caught me with a good head kick, but I was able to gather my senses and bring the fight to him. I stayed in the fight and I was able to take care of business in the second round.
"I just feel like you're never going to be able to break me in the cage. No matter what you do to me, I'm not going to break unless you completely put me out. I'm going to keep coming at you until one of us goes down."
Ford's fight against Baker opens up the main card of Bellator 79.