“New” Brett Rogers Returns Saturday Night: “I Started At The bottom. I Know How It Feels To Crawl And Then Walk.”
By Joshua Molina
Brett “Da Grim” Rogers began his career like a smoking,’ unstoppable freight train. He knocked out former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski in just 22 seconds, a victory that launched him into the center of the MMA universe.
Rogers, a former tire mechanic for Sam’s Club in Minnesota, was suddenly an undefeated rising star. His meteoric rise culminated when he found himself fighting in primetime on CBS for Strikeforce against the man still widely regarded as the greatest heavyweight of all-time – Fedor Emelianenko.
But after Fedor stopped Rogers at 1:48 of the second round, Rogers, both professionally and personally, went into a downward spiral as fast as he once rose. Now Rogers finds himself battling on a small-time card, billed as “My Bloody Valentine,” on Saturday, Feb. 18, at the Palace of Auburn Hills, in Auburn Hills, Michigan. He will face a local fighter, Todd Allee.
It’s not about titles and fame anymore for Rogers. It’s about pride, putting food on the table, and reconciliation with his wife. And with a new manager, former PRIDE North America VP Jerry Millen, Rogers believes he can rise back to the top.
“This is the fight I need to impress people,” he said. “A fight’s a fight, even if it’s just in front of 1,000 people. I still have to get into the cage and knock someone out.”
Rogers has lost four of his last five fights, against top competitors including Fedor, Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett. Against Overeem and Barnett, Rogers appeared totally out of his league.
He land only one punch against Overeem, before the Dutch K-1 champion and soon-to-be UFC championship challenger smashed him so badly that the referee had to stop the fight. He tapped out to Barnett whose catch wrestling skills made for an awful matchup for Rogers, a heavy-handed puncher who, in the past, has needed to be on his feet, in striking range, in order to punish his opponents.
But Rogers’ biggest fight, perhaps, has been a personal one.
He pleaded guilty to felony assault after he was arrested for a domestic dispute with his wife, causing injuries to her face and mouth.
Rogers told Full Contact Fighter that he has said he is sorry for the incident, which cost him his job with Strikeforce, and that he will continue to apologize over and over.
“I don’t want my fans to think I am some beast of a guy,” Rogers said. “Me and my wife are hanging in there. We are strong. We ain’t going nowhere.”
Having hit rock bottom, Rogers is attempting to turn his life around.
“I am allowed my mistakes,” he said. “I have made mistakes and I am pretty sure that I will make more mistakes. I am not perfect.”
He has found a new manager, a new gym, and he is attempting to improve his MMA skills.
Rogers rose to fame by knocking his opponents out. But once he stepped up in competition he found that he needed more stamina, a ground game, and a defense.
He’s started to train on his wrestling, jiu-jitsu and submissions. In the gym he said he’s training with higher quality of fighters who are testing him, and willing to “push back.”
It’s a big difference from how he trained before. Rogers said he wasn’t as disciplined in his training. He was the kind of guy who just wanted to know the date of the fight, and that he would show up.
“I want to become a better, more overall MMA fighter,” Rogers said. “My wrestling has to pick up.”
Rogers badly wants to be in the spotlight again. These days he’s working small odd jobs to make ends meet. He knows he needs to start winning if he wants to remain a relevant MMA star. He has a fight scheduled in Japan in Dream in April. But first, he’s focused on Saturday.
“I would love to be back on top,” he said. “But I started at the bottom. I know how it feels to crawl and then walk.”