It only takes one Iron Ring to make you appreciate a Bellator.
Middleweight Brian Rogers (8-2 MMA, 1-0 BFC) passed the quarterfinals of the promotion's season-five tournament with flying colors, knocking out Victor O'Donnell to earn a spot in the semis opposite season-two champ Alexander Shlemenko (41-7 MMA, 5-1 BFC) at Saturday's Bellator 54, which takes place at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
Sure, fighting three times in three months is a daunting task, as anyone competing in the promotion can attest. But at least you know what you're getting into, which is more than Rogers can say about the hip-hop flavored MMA reality show that aired in 2009 and almost immediately fizzled.
Then a grad student and part-time MMA fighter, Rogers was enticed by the $2,500 show/win purses offered to Iron Ring contestants. He got the feeling something was askew, though, when he showed up to UFC vet Roan Carneiro's gym in Atlanta, and the audition was an actual fight. A one-round fight, but still, there was no pay. Plus, the producers wanted him to fight at heavyweight. He was at 215 pounds, but only because he'd been given three days' notice and they didn't tell him to cut weight.
"I'm not fighting at heavyweight for no money in the middle of Atlanta," he told the show's producers.
Rogers got the call anyway to be on the show, which was taped on a Monday night in New Orleans. The dressing rooms were right next to the VIP rooms, and the smell of marijuana smoke wafted in as he warmed up. Referee Herb Dean oversaw his fight, in which he represented rapper Lil' Jon's team of fighters against a rep of Jim Jones' Dipset team.
"It was like a dogfight or something," Rogers said. "Everyone was standing around the ring. People were sticking their arms in the ring and yelling and screaming. My coach lost his voice, and he was yelling to Little Jon to footsweep him. Lil' Jon's like, 'Footsweep that mother[expletive]!'"LINK