Strikeforce: Rogers takes on Fedor

JOSE RODRIGUEZ, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

It's a mindset Brett "The Grim" Rogers knows he must cling to if he wants to have any chance of proving the critics wrong.

Facing the man most fans and pundits consider the best all-around fighter in mixed martial arts, Rogers knows buying into the hype surrounding his opponent Fedor "The Last Emperor" Emelianenko could prove deadly.

"I understand who I am fighting, but he is just a man," says the 28-year-old knockout artist of tonight's Strikeforce fight on CBS.

"I try not to get stressed. If I get stressed, I am going to lose focus on my main goal."

His main goal is to do something no fighter has been able to do in nine years.

But beating the man across from him in the cage will be no easy feat for the undefeated Rogers.

Emelianenko has a 30-1 record and his resume includes some of the world's top fighters.

"I have to stay relaxed. But come (this) morning, I definitely get into fight mode," says Rogers, who's finished all of his 10 fights using his fists.

"I think about everything that is coming, knock out the butterflies and then after that, it is on. I am in that ball right now and I am ready to explode."

The heavyweight showdown will headline Strikeforce's network TV debut. The stacked card also features Jake Shields taking on Jason "Mayhem" Miller for the middleweight belt and Gegard Mousasi taking on former Pride and UFC star Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou.

Rogers isn't the only one ignoring the hype surrounding Emelianenko.

The 33-year-old Russian is also not reading his own press clippings.

"I never think about how impressive I am," says Emelianenko, who is known for his hauntingly calm demeanour as he walks into a fight.

FINISH IT OFF FAST

"I just come to the ring to show my techniques and skills. I want to finish the fight as fast as possible."

But he is fully aware of his opponent's heavy hands.

"I watched the fight of Brett against Andrei Arlovski. I know that Brett is very strong. He has a very strong knockout punch," says Emelianenko.

Emelianenko says he has changed little in his military-style training regimen to prepare for Rogers.

"We usually train for all fights in the same way with some slight difference regarding the opponent. This time, we are just doing some corrections regarding the technique of Brett," says the former Pride heavyweight champ and current World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts belt holder.

Strikeforce president Scott Coker says he's hopeful WAMMA -- which is independent of Strikeforce -- will honour the result of the fight and award the belt to the winner. Emelianenko says regardless of the outcome of the fight, he plans to concentrate his career on fighting in the U.S. -- at least for the time being.

"I am certainly planning on performing in the United States. I know for sure I will have two fights next year in the U.S. and then we will see if the contract will work. Maybe we will sign another contract," he says.

JOSE.RODRIGUEZ@SUNMEDIA.CA


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