Experience is life’s best teacher, and Rob Kimmons adheres to this old adage. Having been a professional mixed martial artist since 2003, Kimmons took a hard five-year journey before entering the UFC. Since that time he has learned much about himself as a fighter and as a man, lessons which he hopes to translate into more diversified showings in the Octagon. His next opponent, Dongi Yang, is the perfect candidate for this wish and Kimmons is more than excited for the matchup.
“To be honest he’s got the body style of a guy I like to fight the most so it gives me more opportunity to do more things when I’m not the shorter fighter by four inches and outreached by 3 or 4 inches,” said Kimmons. “That seems to be my last several fights in the UFC, taller guys with kickboxing experience. This guy, he’s powerful, but he’s only 5’11 and he’s from a judo background. I’ve seen his fights and he likes to throw but he’s not a technical guy, he’s a wild guy, and I think I have an advantage striking and I want to finally show the UFC that I can stand up and scrap because all my fights have went to the ground. Most people think I’m a grappler but it’s because I’ve been fighting kickboxers, so I’m excited for this fight”
South Korea’s Yang held a perfect record of 9-0 until his entrance into the UFC last October. After fighting Chris Camozzi at UFC 121, Yang saw his unbeaten record get blemished by a split decision loss. However, Kimmons saw what he feels is Yang’s best strength during that and his other fights, a skill which he believes he is equally prepared for.
“His biggest strengths are that he’s kind of a buff dude but he’s short. He’s wide so he’s going to be hard to take down but I’m not even going to try and take him down,” said Kimmons. “He’s got some good judo, he doesn’t many any throws like a Karo Parisyan type of fighter but he’ll grab you in the clinch, do inside leg trips or just power you right over. In his first UFC fight versus Camozzi it looked like he was powering him over almost like a football tackle. He has good ground and pound, and that was what I was most impressed with from watching his fights. I could only get three fights of his, but he doesn’t seem like too much for me standing up. His biggest strength is his power and grappling ability.”
In his last outing, Kimmons fought Kyle Noke in Germany at UFC 122. The result was a second round loss via rear naked choke and it’s a loss that Kimmons blames himself for heartily.
“That last fight I fought so stupid,” he said. “I didn’t think I was doing bad - every time I’d get in a bad position I would get right out of it, but my head was messing with me in that fight. I kept being like, ‘why did I just give up this takedown to mount?’ I was over thinking stuff instead of just reacting and that was rough on me. I had never been out of the country before and I didn’t know how bad that was going to affect me. Here’s the thing going in: everybody said he’s a kick boxer, he’s got reach on you, take him down, you’re a grappler, but then I got out there and I’m winning the standup. Every time we would start throwing punches I’d push that dude right into the cage and I could see in his eyes that he did not want to bang with me; he wasn’t hurting me and I was hurting him, I could see that. I got so happy and excited about that I started doing stupid things. I was going for the kill so much that I was throwing big old wild hooks with my elbows way up to his side giving up easy takedowns. Hindsight’s 20/20 and I really wish I could go back in time and do that fight over, but I learned from that fight.”
One lesson learned: switch up the training regimen. It is something that Kimmons had never done and this time he felt it imperative to do so.
“I’ve been going to the same place that I’ve always gone to, Grind House, but I did switch it up and started going to a place called Fight University,” he said. “They teach MMA but they’re mainly a judo school, and I also started going to a place called Sixty-Eight for the same reason because they have a guy on the U.S. Judo team, so that was a no brainer. One other thing we did was work on strength and conditioning everyday in the mornings in conjunction with my regular training, and because of that I think I’m in better shape than any of my other fights. I was worried about my cardio, but I’ve been doing two-a-days everyday and I think I’m in better shape than my other fights and I’m definitely stronger than I’ve ever been; that’s the one consensus from all of my training partners at all the different schools. I’m not going to try to go strength on strength but if we get in a situation and there’s some kind of a scramble where he might think he can just hold me down or power into me or something, he’s going to get shocked probably because I’m a lot stronger than I used to be.”
Rob Kimmons has learned a lot and is ready to make a deeper impact in the UFC. With Dongi Yang in the way of that goal, all he can do is continue his evolution until fate reveals his destiny.
“I just turned 30, and with age comes wisdom and I’ve been much smarter,” he said. “I’ve branched out instead of staying with the group of guys that I’ve been with, I’ve been going to all the different schools in the city, all the best gyms, I’ve been bringing in training partners, I hired coaches, I hired a brand new strength and conditioning coach, and for the first time ever I spoke to a boxing coach. So the older I get the smarter I’m being about stuff. For a while when I first got in the UFC I was like, ‘I’ve gotten this far by doing this so I’m going to keep doing these things and just do them well.’ I’ve been in the UFC for three years now and I realized I can’t stop. You’ve got to keep learning more stuff because everyone else is learning stuff. Win or lose I will never be accused of being soft, so if a guy beats me he’s got to whoop my ass and damn near kill me in the ring almost. Dongi has never fought anyone like me and it’s early in his career. I think this is a fight where I can get a bonus and that’s what I want.”
Rob Kimmons - Older & Wiser
"I’ve been in the UFC for three years now and I realized I can’t stop. You’ve got to keep learning more stuff because everyone else is learning stuff."