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Brett Rogers: Jaws Will Drop When I Fight Fedor Emelianenko

Brett RogersBrett Rogers has the toughest task in sports ahead of him on Saturday in Chicago: Stepping into the cage with the best fighter in mixed martial arts, Fedor Emelianenko.

But Rogers, a 6-foot-4, 265-pound hard-punching heavyweight, says he has a surprise in store for Fedor and for MMA fans. Rogers insists that Fedor has never fought anyone with his combination of size, speed and power, and he's expecting to become the heavyweight champion of MMA on Saturday.

In an interview with FanHouse, Rogers discussed the fight with Fedor, growing up in the projects in Chicago and how his life has changed since beating Andrei Arlovski in June. The full interview is below.

Most people consider Fedor the best heavyweight in the world and maybe the best MMA fighter ever. Is that what you think?
I think he's one of the best, looking at his record and his history he's definitely great. But he's facing a new, improved heavyweight: He hasn't fought anyone like me. The way I see it, he hasn't been tested the way I'm about to test him.

How many of Fedor's fights have you seen?
I had never sat down to watch one of his fights until his last fight against Andrei Arlovski. Before that I had just seen clips here and there. I think it's good that I haven't been a big Fedor fan: A lot of the guys he's fought fall too deep into the hype.

But now that you're preparing to fight him, don't you need to study his fights to learn his tendencies?
Oh, yeah, definitely. He's almost too relaxed a fighter sometimes and I think I can do some damage when I pick my shots.

How much do you weigh right now?
I'll make 265 pounds, that won't be a problem.

But are you heavier than that now?
Yeah, I walk around at about 280, 285.

Will it be tough for you to make the limit of 265 on November 6 at the weigh-in?
No. I go up and down and have no problems shedding the weight when I need to.

What's the most you've ever weighed?
The most I've ever weighed is about 320 pounds. It sucked having to get down to 265 for my next fight after that, so now I try to stay within 30 pounds of 265.

How much do you think your size advantage helps you against Fedor?
I'll definitely be the bigger, taller, stronger fighter. I know he's fought some guys who are bigger, like [7-foot-2 Korean kickboxer Hong Man Choi], but he's never fought someone who brings the kind of challenges that I'm going to bring into the cage. He hasn't been hit the way I'll hit him.

Can you really say that? Fedor has fought some very powerful strikers, such as Mirko Cro Cop when he was at the top of his game.

I would definitely put myself up against anyone when it comes to punching power. I bring the power and the speed.

I know you want to stand up and trade punches but what kind of ground game do you have?
I train in jiu jitsu, but mostly my jiu jitsu is defensive. Obviously, I prefer to stand and bang. But I can do what I have to do. If it does go to the ground, I can do what I need to do to get back up and make him pay for it. I'm going to be the dominant force in the cage, and if he tries to take me out of my game, I'll make him pay for it.

Where are you in your Brazilian jiu jitsu -- white belt, blue belt, purple belt, what?
Man, I have no clue. I don't rank myself with belts and I don't care about other people's belts. To me, that can be solved with a punch to the head or a punch to the body. Most of my jiu jitsu is just about getting out of bad situations. I want to win my fight by knockout.

I think a lot of fans don't know much about your background. Where did you grow up?
My birthplace is Chicago. I grew up on the South Side and the West Side. I lived in Cabrini Green. When I was 12 we moved up to Minnesota. My childhood kind of had the good mixed with the bad.

Was it a tough area, where you grew up?
My old neighborhood in Chicago was definitely the ghetto. Every day it was a challenge getting to school and getting home from school, walkiing home without getting messed with. You had to walk a certain way and look over your shoulder, and I had two younger siblings I had to take care of, too. There were a lot of gangs at that time -- it was pretty bad. That's the reason why my grandma was like, "We've got to go. We've got to move." If I had stayed in Chicago I would've been like everybody else, joining gangs.

Was that upbringing the reason you wanted to learn how to fight?
At a young age I always wanted to learn some kind of martial art discipline but we just didn't have the money. When I was young I played basketball and football because I'm a competitor and competitors have to do something, but what really excited me was when I was able to take tae kwon do, and then I did some amateur boxing, and then from there I kind of found out about MMA.

What kind of athlete were you when you were young?
The thing about me was, any sport I played, I always went hard. I was good at basketball, but I was playing center and you can only get so far as a center if you're 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds.

Do you still have a lot of friends and family in Chicago?
Yeah, I have cousins and aunts, and they know I've got a big fight coming up, so hopefully I'll have a lot of fans there.

Your knockout of Andrei Arlovski in June established you as one of MMA's top heavyweights, but before that was it hard for you to make a living in the sport?

Yeah, I had to get by on odd jobs. My main job was Sam's Club, but I had I don't know how many part-time jobs. I'd just do little things like delivering papers to try to get by. I had a busy schedule between working and training. I barely saw my family and friends. I had to squeeze in training time, work, more training time, work another job, and then go home and try to get some sleep. I'm so glad that now I'm at the point, since the Arlovski fight, that all I have to worry about is working out and whipping someone in the cage.

There was a time when a lot of people thought you were going to fight Kimbo Slice. What do you think of Kimbo?
He's just another guy trying to make a living, same as me. That fight would've been nice, but I want to fight the best to become the best.

What are your long-term goals in MMA?
I'm not going to be fighting forever so I've got to make money, but at the same time, Randy Couture is forty-some years old [46] and he's still standing in there banging, so I hope I can keep going that long. I'll be fighting as long as my body can do it. It's a great sport, and I'm taking my training seriously so that I can do it a long time.

How many more fights do you have on your Strikeforce contract?
Two more. But what I think about my contract is as long as I keep winning, I'm going to do fine. I don't plan on losing any time soon. I'm leaving all my options open but Strikeforce has taken care of me. [Strikeforce CEO] Scott Coker has been good to me, and I want to keep fighting, keep trying to be the best.

What do you think people are saying about Brett Rogers now and what do you think they'll be saying about you after you fight Fedor?
Right now they're saying I'm fat and out of shape and I have no chance, but the people saying negative things about me are the people who don't know me. Once everybody sees what I do in the cage, jaws are going to drop.

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