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"Rosedale Reaper" meets "The Hooligan"

Interview by David Nelmark

This Saturday, on UFC Live, televised on Versus from the San Diego Sports Arena in San Diego, Rob "The Rosedale Reaper" Kimmons, 22-5, will face Steve Steinbeiss, 4-3.

Steinbeiss was undefeated as a kickboxer in K-1, and you'll be giving up almost five inches in height. Does this worry you?

It would be a disadvantage if I was going to be striking with him, but I’m not. I was a wrestler before I ever started fighting and I love fighting tall guys. It’s hard to stop a takedown when you’re 6 inches taller. This guy is all legs and he’s going to want to kickbox and use his range, but I’m not going to let him. I am going to take him down and then all his striking credentials mean nothing when he is on his back.

He’s had seven MMA fights, and he fought good guys, but I have had 50 fights. My biggest strength is that I’m a well-rounded fighter. I am not in the top 10 or 15 of any one thing, but I am really good at everything. I am going to take it wherever my opponent isn’t good. If I stood up and tried to bang with him I’d be stupid. Luckily it’s not a kickboxing match it’s an MMA fight.

In more than 50 fights, Kimmons you've lost only 5 times, all to UFC veterans.

Every single loss killed me. It doesn’t get any easier and it doesn’t matter who beats you. I’m sure even if Anderson Silva knocks you out your like damn it, I just lost. You know you’re not like “Oh well, it was Anderson Silva.”

After having more than 20 pro fights, finally getting the call from the UFC was a dream come true.

Some of my favorite memories of fighting are hopping in a car with a group of guys and driving a few hours to a place like Council Bluffs. We were always in hostile territory coming in to fight the local guys, but I loved it. But I obviously also love this. Some people I hear about get in the UFC and they freeze up when they see all the people. I actually looked around and it got me excited. I felt this is where I belong.

Honestly, once I got into the UFC though, I lost a little bit of my hunger. One bad thing about accomplishing a dream is I got in there and I won the first fight and it felt like that it was the end of a movie, the climax. Obviously I still went out and tried to win every fight I fought in the UFC but something was missing. Well, right now man I got that hunger.

You've got three boys, Anthony - 13, Donato - 8, and Gigi -6 . . .

When I bring my kids in to the gym and they are watching me train, I’ll look over and one of the guys will be showing them some moves. My kids are like sponges, they just pick it up. I went to work as a referee at a big grappling tournament and my 8-year-old came with me. The organizer asked me if Donato wanted to participate in the kids division. It was all the kids under 50 pounds and then all the kids over 50 pounds. And Donato weighed like 52 pounds. But he went in and guillotine chocked out every kid in the tournament and won a gold medal.

Does being " born again" have a big impact on your fighting career?

At the beginning of my adult life I was crazy. I had a reputation for being a tough guy but not really from the cage. I never realized until after I got saved that really I wasn’t tough, I was being a bully. I mean if you are good at this, then why are you in a bar knocking people out? I found God and I changed completely.

I don’t think becoming a Christian hurts your performance as a fighter. If anything it’s the complete opposite. The world is full of people that are like, oh I’m Christian, I’m such a good person. And then they’re cheating on their wives, getting drunk every single day, robbing people-- everybody’s got their own vices. If you really want to be doing it, being a Christian is a life of discipline. Well guess what? So is fighting. At this level, it is a life of discipline and it goes hand in hand with me.

When I’m on point spiritually and physically I am a force. But, when I start like neglecting in one area--my spiritual side or my physical side--the other one goes with it. That’s been my problem in a lot of my past fights. I either rely on one or the other. I’m trying to either do it all by myself or I’m like “God’s going to help me win this fight, I don’t need to train.” And it doesn’t work either way like that. You have to be focused on both. If you stay disciplined, you do better than you could by yourself.

What's planned for the future?

This will be the best Rob Kimmons that has ever fought in the UFC. To say I’ve trained harder for this fight is an understatement because I’ve never hired a strength and conditioning coach before. I’ve never dieted this hard. I’ve for sure never run sprints this many times. I’m doing the extra stuff to be impressive. I don’t just want to win this next fight. I want to send a message and then hopefully get right back in there real soon. I’ve noticed that you sure get that call for a fight a lot faster when you win and especially when you win impressively.


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