There is little doubt the upcoming ”Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields” event on June 6 should feature more than one knockout given bouts featuring Scott Smith, Nick Diaz, Phil Baroni, headliner Robbie Lawler, and a number of other hard-hitting mixed martial artists. Two men more-than familiar with rendering opponents unconscious who will be facing each other that night, Andrei Arlovski and Brett Rogers, offered their thoughts on throwing down in St. Louis during a conference call to media.
The imposing 9-0 “Grim” made it clear that while he was excited about fighting someone with Arlovski’s credentials, he was also making sure to keep his focus squarely on the task at hand.
“Things are great,” said Rogers. “I’m just getting ready for next week. This is definitely going to be a step up in class. Arlovski has been in the game for quite some time. He has plenty of experience. Those are the type of fighters I’m trying to fight from here on out. For me, now, it’s about building respect. I feel like I don’t have it, so fighting Arlovski is going to be a fun and challenging event on June 6.
“I’m at that point in my training where I have a great gym now. We have top coaches. I’m doing everything I need to do to take on top fighters. Once I got the phone call and Arlovski was set in stone, I was excited. I remember watching this guy at a younger age and thinking, ‘Man I get to take on someone like that?’ He’s an explosive guy; he likes to move around. It’s definitely going to be a challenge, but nothing I don’t think I can handle. He’s big, slimmer guy. He likes to move, he likes to be quick and move his hands. I’m kind of mellow with the fighting stance, so it’s definitely going to be me taking my time and controlling the fight.”
As far as the hype surrounding the fight, Rogers went on to say, “I’m not going to allow myself to get caught up in it. I’m pushing aside everything. Back in the day, I was more a fan. I’ve just been pushing that all out of my head and looking at different fighters as fighters. Arlovski is just one out of a few people I’m aiming at. I’m just going to go out there and just fight. Just do what I do. I love doing it. It’s a fun sport, it’s growing. There’s lots of money in it. I just can’t complain and I can’t wait.”
The former UFC Heavyweight Champion also expressed excitement about the bout, as well as respect for Rogers’ skills, saying, “I’m very excited about this fight. I’m looking forward to fighting Brett Rogers June 6. He’s a good fighter and he’s 9-0. He’s not a joke. He’s a good striker. He’s going in about twenty-five pounds heavier than me. He has a longer reach than me. So, of course, I have to correct my fighting style specifically for him. He’s obviously a very good striker so I think this is going to be an interesting fight for the fans. He likes to strike, I like to box.”
Rogers made it known the admiration for striking prowess was mutual between the opponents, though also took the opportunity to throw in a verbal jab.
“I give his standup a high rank because he does like to use his hands,” said Rogers. “He can move his head really good. He has a nice right, I’ll give him that. But, as far as anything else go, there isn’t anything that would make me nervous. I’m just the type of fighter that likes to control the pace. I’m going to be the heavier fighter. I’m sure he’s going in around 250. I’m always on top of the weight. I just have to stand and bang with him. That’s all I can do, really. If he gets real careless or real crazy I might have to just check him and bang him around the ring a little bit and try to calm him down. I’m not going into this fight to try and be bouncey-bouncey with him.”
Asked whether or not knocking Arlovski out was his only hope for victory against the talented Belarusian, “The Grim” made it clear he was ready to go to the ground if necessary.
“I won’t say (the KO) is my only way of winning,” admitted Rogers. “First and foremost that’s going to be the first thing I go for. If it comes down to us turning around on the ground, I feel safe with the jiujitsu game. I know he has a background in that but he’s just another man. It’s just another day in the gym except we’re going 100 percent. Hopefully, he’s not sleeping on that.” Arlovski responded by saying, “If it goes to the ground I have a chance to do something with my fists. He’s a good fighter so I’m taking him very seriously.”
Neither fighter seemed to be overly phased by any potential baggage they may have been associated with the build up to their upcoming battle. Arlovski, who was recently defeated by Fedor Emelianenko, acknowledged a bit of additional pressure due to the loss but maintained that his attention was purely on Rogers.
“When I fought Fedor I didn’t follow my game plan,” Arlovski was quoted as saying during the conference call. “I just went through the fight. Like all my trainers told me, you have to follow your game plan. Yeah, there’s pressure because I lost my last fight. I’m just focused right now on my fight against Rogers on June 6. All my trainers are very excited for the fight.”
Rogers, who was originally scheduled to compete against Alistair Overeem for the Strikeforce Heavyweight Championship, gave his opinion on the matter and made it clear he was still interested in that bout amongst others.
“I thought I was fighting him, but I got (the Arlovski fight) about three weeks ago,” explained Rogers. “It’s cool because the way I see it, it’s actually going to be a better fight than the one with Overeem would have been. With Overeem we might have ended up on the ground and did all that up-and-down stuff. With Arlovski, he likes to stand and bang and I like to do that too. This is going to make for a better fight. I was putting in some time for Overeem. Then he wanted to act like a fool. He’s a pro fighter and he wanted to act like a fool. That’s on him. I’m moving onto bigger and better. I’m getting this fight. I’ll knock Arlovski out and hopefully move on to somebody better. I’m trying to get into that ‘Top 10’ ranking. This isn’t going to be forever so I need to make my move like right now when I’m healthy.
“I did have my mind set on (the title). I was kind of concentrating on that. So whenever Overeem heals, I’m going to go for that. Pretty much I want to fight anybody people say are better than me. I’ll fight Overeem…I’ll fight Arlovski…I’ll fight Fedor. I’ll fight whoever is up there. I’m going for all the ‘Top 10’ guys in the heavyweight division.”
Whether Rogers will take the first step of his desired journey to the top on June 6 or Arlovski will remind fans of how dangerous a fighter he is won’t be known until the lights fade in St. Louis. Tune in and find out along with the rest of the world!