Post-fight interviews can be a fascinating bit of performance art to watch. Whether it’s Sonnen-esque declarations or Volkmann-like train wrecks, in the aftermath of wrecking another human being, anything is fair game.
So when Brian Rogers’ knee separated Vitor Vianna from consciousness late in the first round at Friday’s Bellator 62 event, everyone knew the possibility for interview gold was in play.
“That’s my third flying knee knockout,” Rogers went on to proclaim. “Google it! I’m going to throw it, and you’re not going to stop me.”
Of course, the more he demanded you ‘Google it,’ the more fight fans loved it. In fact, days later Rogers is still hearing about the meme-worthy phrase.
“It popped in my head and it’s just something I’ve been laughing about for a while,” Rogers said with a chuckle on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour.
“I had a couple different shirts made a few years ago. One said ‘I’m legit’ and one said ‘Google me.’ I’ve used that on my banner before, with like a cartoon version of me with the hair and a little predator sitting on my shoulder.”
Between all the googling and Rogers’ stunning knockout, Friday marked a perfect start to this year’s Bellator tournament run for the 28-year-old middleweight. It also provided a necessary reprieve from last year’s trip, which ended prematurely with a TKO setback to eventual Season 5 winner Alexander Shlemenko.
Though, if moral victories exist in sports, the loss to Shlemenko would be counted among them.
“It just gave me confidence in my abilities,” Rogers explained. “That, even though it was a loss, I could compete with the best guys in the world. Alexander Schlemenko is probably a top-15 or top-20 middleweight.
“So it just kind of let me know that I belong on that stage.”
“The Predator” now heads to his home state of Ohio to take on unbeaten Bruno Santos at Bellator 66, with a spot in Season 6′s middleweight finals up for grabs. And with Bellator’s 185-pound division in flux, and reigning champion Hector Lombard mired in a shaky contract situation, a tournament victory would be a monumental step in Rogers’ young career — which is somewhat surprising given that he never even expected to be here.
A year ago Rogers was fresh off an impressive first-round TKO win over Ian Rammel at Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson. The bout was his first with a bigtime promotion, and after such an stirring debut, he anticipated a call back. It never came.
In retrospect, in the backdrop of the Zuffa-Strikeforce acquisition, bad timing was the most likely culprit.
“They got rid of Rich Chou, who was the Strikeforce matchmaker at the time,” Rogers said. “They told me they were interested and I’d be hearing from them, but I feel like I just got lost in the shuffle with the Zuffa purchase. Rather than wait around, Bellator offered me an opportunity and I ran with it.”
While the tournament format has its own faults, Rogers echoed the sentiments of new Bellator featherweight champion Pat Curran, lauding the straight-forward nature of earning your own title shot.
“I like that you can make it happen for yourself,” Rogers mused. “100-percent. You literally control your own destiny.”
“You know if you win this month, you have a fight the very next month, and you know what you’re looking at getting paid and everything like that. So you can make your cash and make your name throughout the tournament.”
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