Khalil Rountree Jr. is a big scary man. Physically he has all the tools to get to the top of the UFC, and from all accounts he is a hard worker and very coachable. What the coaches tell him to do, he does.
In the beginning, he admitted that he had issues with his confidence. He did not see in himself what others did. After a couple of losses in his early UFC career, he finally got his first UFC victory in his third appearance for the promotion.
The Move to Thailand
After inconsistent performances and results he struggled to put any win streaks together. Many thought he had turned a corner in his best performance of that time against Eryk Anders. His display of Muay Thai was devastating.
Had Rountree found a new and improved training regime in Thailand? This was the problem according to Rountree when speaking to the UFC. He said the simple existence he found in Thailand made him too comfortable which was detrimental to his competitive edge.
“As good as that felt, when I came home, I realized how damaging it actually was to me because I was starting to let go of a lot of my aspirations as a fighter because I was content with a simple life back in Thailand. I had everything I needed, happiness and peace — it was just like, ‘Man, I’m set for the rest of my life!’ — and part of my fighting dream and the drive for fighting kind of died.”
The Move to Vegas
Rountree returned to live and train in Las Vegas with Syndicate MMA. With guidance and praise for his work ethic from his coach John Wood, Rountree pulled off a devesting victory over Modestas Bukauskas with a quad kick that ripped through Bukauskas’ leg.
Rountree faced some backlash over the use of the vicious kick, with some people calling for the kick to be banned. He explained to Michael Bisping in his post-fight interview that he noticed Bukauskas putting too much weight on his front leg when he jabbed and decided to take advantage of this. In fact, he tried the technique a few seconds earlier in the fight.
This mental shift and killer instinct might have been what was missing from Rountree before. His next opponent must not only get over the physical intimidation that Rountree Jr always had but now the fact that he can finish you with a single leg kick.
How dangerous could this new killer instinct make a motivated and focused Rountree? Can he start to live up to the potential many believe he has? Get involved and let us know what you think in the comments below!
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