Tonight, Strikeforce heavyweight contender Brett Rogers will enjoy the rare opportunity to challenge for a fight promotion’s biggest title after coming off of a loss. Rogers was 10-0 when he stepped in the cage last November against world-ranked heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko, he was 10-1 when he left. Rogers held his own against Fedor but the Russian’s experience and inimitable cool prevailed as he would score a TKO win over Rogers in the second round. Due to a contract dispute and managerial issues, Emelianenko, who is rightfully Strikeforce’s number one heavyweight contender, was unavailable to challenge Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem for his title when the Dutchman finally returned to the organization from a two year stint competing overseas. With the heavyweight belt having not been disputed for two years and, with Overeem being somewhat hard to pin down, it was necessary to put on a title fight immediately. So, this is how Rogers comes to find himself in the lucky position to challenge for the belt; he is likely the most capable heavyweight contender other than Emelianenko in Strikeforce’s less-than-stacked heavyweight division. The gift was not received without its fair share of criticism though; many are decrying Roger’s title shot as a joke, a fact which he says motivates him even more.
“It’s definitely motivation, man,” Rogers told MMAWeekly. “I’m the type that everything positive or negative is going to make me that much stronger. This is the type of fight that I have wanted for a long time. It’s not something that I’ve taken it very lightly. People are just holding the Fedor loss against me. People think I don’t deserve it, so I’m feeling a lot of pressure to do anything to prove it.”
While Rogers’ is wisely not thinking far beyond his fight with Overeem, the loss to Emelianenko weighs on him and it is a loss he hopes he gets the chance to rectify.
“I know for a fact that if I have a second shot at (Fedor) it definitely will be a lot different. I’m not looking past Alistair, but I feel it’s going to be a tougher second fight. I want that rematch with Fedor and it’s definitely going to look a lot better when I get in there and snatch this title and get this second shot,” said Rogers.
“I just feel that the time is now,” Rogers continued. “I’ve been very dedicated to this sport. Alistair has been kind of doing his thing while people in the West have been trying to move forward. I feel like he has been kind of slowing me down with the things that I’ve been trying to do.”
Even though it is hard to make a case for Rogers deserving the title shot, the fact is that he performed better against Emelianenko than many have and he proved himself to be a dangerous opponent for any heavyweight. He should not be blamed for taking the opportunity that he was presented with and, who knows, he may prove his critics wrong and bring the belt home to Chicago; he certainly believes that he will.
“I definitely feel like I deserve this title when it comes down to it,” said Rogers. “It just kind of makes sense. I just want to get out there and prove it to the world that I’m getting that title. It is what it is. I don’t care what anybody else says.”