Khalil Rountree put in a performance of a lifetime at UFC Fight Night 113 and defeated Paul Craig via knockout after four-minutes and 56-seconds of the first round.
Speaking to MMAUNO.com after the event, Rountree explained why he wore the yellow Brazilian Reebok jersey rather than red, white and blue colours of his native America. The former TUF contestant revealed he was paying tribute to one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time, Anderson Silva.
“I’m very close with Anderson Silva, he’s like an older brother to me,” Rountree said. “He’s taught me a lot, so for this fight I thought I would show my gratitude to him. He’s just shut down his gym recently so I really wanted to show my appreciation to him by wearing the yellow and black trunks like he wore in his best days.”
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Rountree dominated the contest with Craig from the opening few seconds and had the Scot back pedalling until the end of the fight. The American was happy with his performance, but he still feels there are several areas in which he can improve.
“I feel good about the win and the hostile crowd, I didn’t expect it, but I was ready for whatever came,” Rountree said. “I did zero preparation [for the crowd], but I feel like I did a good job there or there abouts. Given how he approached me at the pre and post weigh-ins, I thought he was going to bring a lot more. but the moment I saw the look in his eyes I saw fear and tension. I took advantage of it and capitalised on the opportunities he gave me.”
Rountree has now won two on the bounce and has made some big improvements since his defeats to Andrew Sanchez and Tyson Pedro last year. Rountree now feels like he’s beginning to show his best and he’s promising that he’s only ever going to get better.
“After I lost to Tyson Pedro in Australia, I really realized that I needed to screw my head on in a different direction,” Rountree said. “I needed to get focused on where I wanted to go and what I wanted to achieve in the sport. I started taking everything seriously and all I do now is train. I got rid of my old lifestyle and now I’m just training to get stronger and weakest.
Having recorded his second UFC win in as many fights, Rountree now feels like he’s in a stronger position to call for what he wants. The American is humble though and he’s willing to keep on working his way back to the top of the 205-pounds one step at a time.
“For me, there’s no such thing as time off,” Rountree said. “After I lost in Brazil, I really felt like I needed to screw my head on in a different direction. I needed to understand my focus and set my self goals in this is sport. Then I started to take it way more seriously and now I train, that’s all I do–I just train.
“I got rid of my lifestyle and all I do now is train the areas where I’m weakest. I’ve been training at Syndicate MMA and using the new performance institute. It’s been a big change, but I’m happy with the results so far.”