Bellator’s Season 8 tournament represented middleweight Brian Rogers‘ third attempt at taking his MMA career to the next level, and the third time his plans went awry.
Rogers, however, still feels like he’s a few steps away from finding success in the tournament-based promotion.
“I have more natural skills and ability than anyone in the middleweight division,” Rogers (10-5 MMA, 3-3 BMMA), who faces Mikkel Parlo (9-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) at Bellator 98, told MMAjunkie.com. “No disrespect to anyone I’ve fought before, but I beat myself every time.
“I’m 29 years old and I feel like I’m just hitting my stride. I just feel really good about everything that’s happening in my life and in my training, and I’m ready to take it to the next level.”
Bellator 98 takes place Saturday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. The event’s main card airs live on Spike TV following prelims on Spike.com.
In his previous outing for the Viacom-owned promotion, Rogers faced UFC vet Dan Cramer in the opening round of the Season 8 middleweight tournament at Bellator 89. After three rounds, he was declared the loser by unanimous decision, which put him at an even 3-3 with the promotion.
For most fighters, two failed tournaments means a pink slip, but Bellator gave “The Professional Predator” another chance.
After all, Rogers, whose first appearance for Bellator came during the Season 5 middleweight tournament, is a very promotable fighter. His signature is his powerful strikes, and also his susceptibility to them. He’s knocked out two opponents and twice has been on the receiving end of KOs. When fans see him compete, they’re likely to see a finish.
That willingness to stand and trade has won Rogers notoriety, but not put him closer to his ultimate goal of being a champion. Now, he’s refocused his life to make that more attainable.
“I don’t want to wake up at 50 years old and be pissed,” Rogers said. “I don’t want to be pissed at myself for not putting as much into the sport as I could of because I was too busy doing this, that and the other thing. Fighting is the No. 1 priority right now in my life.
“Nine times out of 10, fighters don’t mean it when they say it, but in my case, I’m in the best shape of my life. This is the first time in my career I’ve been working with a real strength and conditioning coach. I’m just locked and loaded right now.”
He’ll need his brawn to triumph over Parlo, who’s also on the road to redemption after losing for the first time in his pro career to Sultan Aliev in the Season 8 tourney.
“I can’t sleep on him, but I think he’s fighting me at the very worst time that anyone could. He’s a solid striker, but he’s nowhere as dynamic with his strikes as I am. He doesn’t put combinations together nearly as well as I do.
“I feel really good about this matchup. I feel like I will hold an edge on the ground if it goes there. But honestly, I think I’m going to win this fight with long-range strikes. I don’t think he can keep up with the variety I’m going to throw at him. I think he’s going to run into something without me having to chase it.
“I’ve got a right hand from hell and if I land flush, he’s going down.”
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