Brian Rogers is a semifinalist in Bellator’s Season 5 middleweight tourney. | Photo: Keith Mills
Ohio middleweight Brian “The Predator” Rogers (www.twitter.com/BRogthePredator) will blog his thoughts and experiences for Sherdog.com as he takes part in Bellator Fighting Championships’ fifth-season 185-pound tournament.
When the lights come on, it’s time to show up and perform. That’s always been my motto when thinking about athletic performance, or anything in life, really. It’s taken a long time to get to this point in my MMA career, and in my life. Some people may not agree, but for me, it’s been slow climb up the ladder every day since the summer of 2006.
In the fall of 2005, my football career ended with a bang at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio, but not in a good way. I can’t remember all the details specifically, but we were playing our rivals, St. Francis of Indiana, who were an NAIA Division II powerhouse and typically ranked in the top three in the country. Each of my previous three years in college, we had great chances to beat them and always blew it. But, during my senior year, we had a better team and a chance to change that.
To make a long story short, we outplayed them all game and found ourselves down 14-7 with two minutes to go. I played linebacker for the Cavaliers, and we did a good job shutting down their high-powered offense the whole second half. Because of that, our offense was on the two-yard line, ready to tie it up and send the game to overtime by punching the ball in with a short-yardage run.
Well, that didn’t happen as planned. Instead, our coaches called a pass play that we had run previously in the season, except they called it to the wrong side of the field. The route and timing of the play were off, so the pass was intercepted and run back 106 yards to the house. Now it was 21-7 with less than a minute left, and we certainly were going to lose. Despite knowing that fact, I still went out on the field to do my duty as a blocker on the kick return team.
The next sequence of events would be a foreshadowing of my MMA career. The ball was squib-kicked, very shallow, and was almost scoped up and downed as quickly as it had been kicked. While slowing down my jog, I saw someone coming out of the corner of my eye to cheap-shot me. I saw him at the last second, caught him and hip tossed him onto the turf at Faucet Stadium. Landing on top of him, I ripped his helmet off and began to punch him under and between his face mask. At the time, I didn’t know the terminology well, but I had taken full mount and was punching and elbowing anything I could. My helmet came off during the fight, but that didn’t stop me. Nothing was going to stop me. Well, until two referees tackled me off the guy and ejected me from the game.
Fast-forward to the spring and summer of 2006. Most of my friends were picking out jobs and careers, or they were headed to grad school with solid plans for the future, ready to move past competitive sports. I had earned my degree in education, but I graduated early to take a job as a graduate assistant. I was headed to grad school to be the assistant strength and conditioning coach at a Division I university. Although working with athletes would keep me active, I knew it wasn’t going to quench the fire for competition that I had inside of me.
I had always participated in football, wrestling, baseball, track or karate at different points throughout my life, but it suddenly halted when football ended. I lacked a sense of purpose and direction and it showed. Although I played football at 235 pounds, I had eaten myself up to around 250 at one point following the end of my senior year.
I decided I needed to make a change. I had liked MMA since I was a kid, and it had recently begun showing on Spike TV on a regular basis. So, it seemed like MMA would be a good way to get back in shape and learn something new. Originally, I only wanted to learn some techniques and get into shape through my MMA training. However, less than one month into training, I knew this what I wanted to do for the next part of my life.