"You can't teach athleticism."
One of the first lessons we learned when MMA was born is that martial arts technique is more valuable than strength and athleticism in realistic, unarmed combat. Otherwise, the meek looking Brazilian in the white bath-robe wouldn't have crunched a grocery list of appendages en route to winning the first few UFC's while changing the way mankind looked at martial arts.
Shortly after, we were taught that -- even though masterful technique will always be of the utmost importance -- being faster, stronger, and more athletic than your opponent certainly isn't going to hurt your chances. The difference between the two revelations is that one of those advantages cannot be learned.
"My deadliest weapon? Definitely my athletic ability," remarked rising prospect Brian Rogers in a conversation this morning. "I'm usually faster and stronger, and it makes my punches, kicks, and everything just a little quicker and more powerful."
Rogers represents one-half of the co-main event in tonight's "Ultimate Cage Battles: Pride and Glory" card, the first show being promoted by former UFC and Pride veteran Dan Bobish. Known as "The Predator", Rogers kicked off his MMA career with an uninspiring 1-2 clip, relying only on four years of experience playing linebacker at the collegiate level and less than two years of MMA training.
However, now that he's been able to accrue some serious mat-time (holding his own with brown and black belts in sparring sessions) while honing his heavy-handed striking game to complement his god-given prowess, Rogers has reeled off four consecutive wins: each coming quickly in the first round, with merciless aggression, and ending by vicious TKO. Plainly revealing his strategy for tonight without the slightest hesitation, Rogers intends to end his opponent's night early in the same fashion.
"He's a ground guy; a top-player with a good open guard, but I'm not worried about that," he remarked with confidence. "He'll try to take me down, but I'll be looking to sprawl and brawl." Originally scheduled to face 6'4" submission specialist Steve Cotterman, Rogers isn't sweating the last-minute match-up change either, even though new foe Robert Conner is more experienced and has faced UFC-caliber opposition.
"That's happened before, so it doesn't matter to me. My original opponent was 6'4", so [Conner] will be a little easier to bang with."
Though fans are mostly concerned with in-cage specifics, it's worth noting that Rogers' uncanny abilities stretch into his personal life as well. In Akron, OH., Rogers is a teacher for special-needs children; a formidable task that requires an immense heart and a lot of patience.
Stay tuned to TheGarv.com for the results of Dan Bobish's "Ultimate Cage Battles" first event later tonight, where we'll find out if Brian "The Predator" Rogers can further his win-streak and continue to rise above the crowd.