An Inverness mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter has been dealt a body blow after travelling to Las Vegas for a shot at the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) – a big bucks televised event which attracts massive ratings.
Ross "The Hitman" Houston competes at welterweight, and was stunned when UFC decided at virtually the last minute to drop that division.
Opting to go with just featherweight and lightweight divisions this season it put Ross, who fights with Cage Warriors, out of the running for participation.
Nevertheless, he said he was still determined to take as many positives as possible from the 11,000-mile trip.
The UFC is very much run on showbiz lines, with fighters facing what amounts to an audition.
Ross, who arrived back in Inverness last week, said: "I was gutted at the decision to be honest.
"I felt amazing in my grappling matches, on the pads and the interview went really well too, but what happened was out of my control.
"It just wasn’t to be, unfortunately, but I had an amazing time and I made some really good connections for the future.
"When UFC comes to Glasgow again I think my name will be in the hat for that.
"When the UFC gives me the opportunity to showcase my skill, I’ll take it with both hands." He said the support he had had from friends, family and team-mates and sponsors had been "unreal."
He added: "I feel really lucky and I am so grateful to have so many good people around me."
Perhaps another somewhat positive omen from Las Vegas came on a visit to a casino he made while he was out there.
Ross, who is head coach at Straight Blast Gym in Inverness and is unbeaten in his last five professional fights, stuck $5 in a slot machine – and managed to win himself $50.
"I made a few quid," he said. "But that amount of money would only get you about half a pint in Vegas!"