LAS VEGAS – UFC light heavyweight Khalil Rountree has always looked to fans for inspiration and support.
When he didn’t get that in advance of his recent UFC 226 fight with Gokhan Saki, he had to look inward for motivation.
“I needed this for myself,” Rountree (6-2 MMA, 2-2 UFC) said after his upset knockout of Saki (1-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC) in Saturday’s pay-per-view opener at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. “So what it felt was just like I knocked a big demon off my shoulder, like, OK, what’s next?”
Or maybe a bunch of little demons. Rountree said his social-media timeline was invaded pre-fight with Saki fans who promised he’d wind up unconscious.
When the opposite happened, he didn’t feel like gloating. He just felt relieved.
“I’ve dealt with a lot, so for it to finally be over, I’m not like, ‘Hurray!’ But I’m like, (sigh),” Rountree said. “Now I can continue. I got a win, got some extra money, can take care of my family the way that I want to, and move forward.”
Rountree doesn’t put too much stock in his new mindset moving forward. Although did a lot of things different to prepare for the fight with the ex-kickboxing champ, like not devising a meticulous gameplan for every moment of the fight, he’ll let the “flow of life” dictate his next approach.
By not having any set path, he managed to find the best one in the octagon. He said the left straight that knocked Saki to the canvas wasn’t planned.
“I don’t even think I looked at him,” Rountree said. “I think I just stepped in and threw a left just in case he was in the area. But when I saw him drop, I kind of took my time, because in the past, I’ve rushed into things.”
Now, Rountree can take his time moving into his next fight. After being forced to wait for the opportunity to fight Saki courtesy of an injury, he plans to learn and grow more as a fighter in the coming months.
That’s a process he’ll do for himself, and not the approval of those watching him.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Khalil Rountree: KO of Gokhan Saki at UFC 226 changed everything – at least for now