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.
Six months after I started training in MMA, I had my first amateur fight. I can remember all of my high school and college friends thinking I was crazy. I think a lot of them thought I would get my butt whooped or that this was just a fad, a temporary thing. Those thoughts changed very quickly when I actually booked my first fight. I think around 100 of my family members and friends came to the fight. I was pretty pumped, especially since I was getting 15 percent of ticket money, a big deal when you’re a broke grad student.
I dropped a ton of weight to make the catchweight of 210 pounds. I gassed horribly at the end of the first round, but despite that, I landed a big right hand in the beginning of the second and Herb Dean stopped the fight. After the postfight interview, I was barely able to get out of the cage and was so exhausted that I collapsed. Paramedics brought oxygen over to me and said I should probably go to the hospital for dehydration and exhaustion.
My father and my uncle stood over me, very concerned, and asked me to never do this again. My mom would have done the same, but she boycotted the event. I gave the paramedics, my dad and my uncle all the same answerer: No, screw that.
Fast-forward to present time, a lot has changed. My dad and uncle no longer ask me not to compete; instead, they are my biggest fans. The other day, I came home and my dad was offering me tips on how to counter the famous spinning back-fist of my next opponent, Alexander Shlemenko, after watching film. On Oct. 15, friends from around the country will make the trip to Atlantic City, N.J., to watch the tournament semifinals live.
I have put in a ton of hours and hard work at Strong Style MMA over the last five years to get to this point. What once was something for me just to do has developed into a second career.
Every decision I have made in my life over the last five years has been with an “MMA first and foremost” type of mindset. I’m fortunate that not only my family and friends stand behind me, but that also my employer, the LEAP Program -- a special education school for children with emotional and behavioral disorders -- does as well.
My family and friends now look at MMA as if I have “made it,” so to speak. I was signed by Bellator and given the opportunity to fight some of the best fighters in the world on a nationally televised stage.
Being given the opportunity is cool, and it’s nice to be thought of as being good enough to compete at that level. However, it’s about winning and staying at that level. I won my quarterfinal fight in devastating fashion, which was nice and provided a temporary relief from the stress of the tournament. It was a highlight-reel finish and couldn’t have gone any better. However, it means absolutely nothing if I don’t follow suit and perform on Oct. 15.
After my opening-round fight on a Saturday night, I was back in the gym and sparring on Monday. I am tired of talking about the first round of fights. It’s over and done with and time to move on. However, I am still being congratulated for “yesterday’s accomplishments,” and that’s been a challenge.
Fortunately, there are only a few more days left until I take off for AC. I love going out of town to fight; there are way fewer distractions and hassles. This week, I will have a three-day work week at LEAP, which, although it’s nice, can also be chaotic. I teach all week with one foot out the door, mentally. I need to have patience with the children, but my patience tends to wear thin when I’m finalizing travel arrangements and cutting weight all week.