Brett Rogers should not be the forgotten man.
Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing very close to 265 pounds, Rogers is difficult to overlook. However, CBS and Strikeforce are doing just that. They are exclusively featuring Rogers' better-known opponent, FedorEmelianenko, in all the pre-fight marketing.
Maybe that was the same mistake former UFC heavyweight champion AndreiArlovski made?
If true, Arlovski paid dearly. Rogers tattooed the former UFC heavyweight champion with a barrage of punches en route to a lightning quick 22-second victory.
"I'm confident in my abilities," said the undefeated Rogers. "I keep preaching that I want to fight the best. I knew Arlovski would be a test. It just happened that way."
But the corporate executives know that it's not Rogers that people are tuning in for. The man everyone wants to see is the seemingly invincible Emelianenko. That's why when the bizarre negotiations between the UFC and Emelianenko's management team fell through over the summer, Strikeforce quickly stepped in to get a deal done. CBS is more than happy to prominently feature the former Pride heavyweight champion.
Advertising for the fight has consisted of CBS running montages detailing the attributes of Emelianenko. However, nowhere on the first commercial spot was Emelianenko's opponent ever mentioned. It's as if Brett Rogers is purely an afterthought - a mere sideshow in the Emelianenko circus.
With the opportunity to face Emelianenko, Rogers has a chance to do something no other fighter has ever done -- place an undisputed blemish on the Russian's record. Even though Emelianenko is listed 30-1, he is widely considered to be undefeated as his one loss was due to a highly controversial ref stoppage based on an illegal blow.
Rogers understands the magnitude of fighting the man generally rated as the top heavyweight in the world.
"This is one of the fights that can prove that I am the best fighter in MMA" said Rogers. "I see this is as more of a title fight than a fight with (Strikeforce heavyweight champion) Alistair Overeem."
Coming into the matchup with Emelianenko, Rogers will have a weight advantage that likely exceeds 30 pounds. Regardless, Rogers readily admits that he'll be very anxious before the main event fight.
"If you ask any fighter if they're scared, they're lying if they tell you no," Rogers said. "You can't let the nervousness get to you. I remember all the people that are backing me. I don't want to get out there and disappoint. I just think to get out there and do my thing."
Rogers "thing" has been an impressive run of 10 victories that includes nine knockouts and one submission. Only one of his 10 victims even made it out of the first round.
The nine knockouts give credence to Rogers' proficiencies in the stand-up game, but he is more than just a reckless slugger. He has studied Emelianenko's past performances and believes he has found a weakness.
"During Fedor's combinations, he likes to put his hands down during the break of the combination," Rogers said, while analyzing his opponent. "He ducks his head when he throws that overhand right. I'll be looking for that and hoping to capitalize in going for the knockout."
On the other hand, Emelianenko has proven to be an excellent all-around fighter. Of his 30 victories, 16 have come by submission and seven by knockout. If they go to the ground, Rogers is going to have to prove that his mat skills are good enough to stop Emelianenko's varied submission attempts.
"I use my ground game for defense to offense instead of offense to defense," Rogers said. "Once I'm down there, my main focus is to get up. I'm not an easy guy to keep down. My main goal is to keep the fight standing and test his chin, but I am definitely comfortable wherever the fight goes."
The winner of the Rogers and Emelianenko match-up would be the front-runner for a title opportunity with Overeem, but in order for that to happen, Overeem would first have to return the United States. He hasn't fought in the U.S. since winning the title from Paul Buentello close to two years ago. Rogers has his own suspicions as to why.
"He's just ducking folks," Rogers said about Overeem. "He's ducking folks for a reason. Maybe he can't fight right now because he's waiting to clean up his body."
"He's taking all these fights outside of the United States so that's just letting me know he's dirty. People like that need to get their act together and man up like everybody else or stay on the other side where doing illegal things is accepted."
Nevertheless, Rogers still has his sights set on the Strikeforce championship.
"I'm not saying that I don't want that fight." Rogers said. "I definitely want that fight. I want the title, and I'm going to be hunting him down real, real soon. Trust me."
Before there is any possibility of a championship fight, Rogers first has to get past the monumental task of defeating Emelianenko. Emelianenko has already defeated five former UFC heavyweight champions (Arlovski, Tim Sylvia, MarkColeman, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Kevin Randleman) in his career.
But none of Emelianenko's prior exploits seem to be a concern to Rogers. In giving a prediction, Rogers expects the bout to end the same way that 90 percent of his prior fights have.
"I'm always running them quick. Two and a half minutes. Knockout. Believe it."