As Bellator approaches their next middleweight tournament, Brian Rogers is ready to show a new kind of animal that all 185lb fighters should fear.
Rogers has been one punch or one kick away from making it to the tournament finals each of the last two times he’s been in the tournament, but things ultimately didn’t go his way.
As explosive and dangerous as any striker at middleweight, Rogers’ aggressiveness and willingness to throw down with any opponent has also come back to bite him in fights with Alexander Shlemenko and Andreas Spang.
Now the former school teacher is training full time, traveling to work with top teams like Firas Zahabi and his students at Tristar gym in Montreal, and it’s creating a whole new and more dangerous version of Rogers.
“Being full time definitely helped, but I tried to look at myself outside the box and look at myself as a fan and as a coach, and evaluate my performances on film, and be brutally honest with myself about things. I took a look back and decided it would be best to go full time, and just train, and it helped out in my preparation just in my strength and conditioning with my skill, my technique and everything else,” Rogers said after his win over Dominique Steele at Bellator 78.
The new, more controlled aggression allowed Rogers to absolutely batter Steele over the full 15-minutes, but when the finish didn’t come from some deadly combinations landed, the Ohio native didn’t rush in to try to force things as he had done in past fights. Instead, Rogers backed out, reset, and continued his assault on Steele.
The end was result was Rogers first unanimous decision win, and he looks at that as progression in his game and proof that he can go 15-minutes and be just as dominant as he does in a 2-minute knockout.
“I kind of thought that’s how it may go. It’s been kind of a goal of mine to have a unanimous decision win. Not a split decision, not sneak one out, just be in control for 15-minutes and I think that’s what I was able to do tonight,” said Rogers.
“It’s a small notch on the belt for me, now next time I’ll try to get 10-8 rounds on the way.”
Rogers isn’t done evolving just yet either. The win over Steele was a way to get back on track and show off some new tricks.
The real evolution of Brian Rogers will show when he enters the next Bellator middleweight tournament, and all of the 185lb fighters have been served notice as of now that he’s back and more dangerous than never before.
“I’ve got a ground game that no one’s seen yet because they haven’t put me there, and I haven’t needed to put them there,” Rogers said.
“I’m just excited to keep evolving and keep moving forward, kind of a mentality switch overall.”