Through his first three pro fights, middleweight prospect Khalil Rountree feels like he’s learned lessons from each bout and has been able to grow at a steady pace.
Most recently, Rountree defeated Cameron Olsen at RFA 25 in April. In that fight, he was able to take the attention his team gives him in training to his corner and it paid off with a unanimous decision.
“The biggest thing was that I was able to stay calm and listen to my coaches and listen to any direction they had; to just stay composed and get the job done,” Rountree told MMAWeekly.com. “I think I could have had more output with strikes and combinations; which is what I’ve been working on since then.
“I think that’s been the biggest thing since my first fight – I always have this drive to learn more. No matter what it is, I just want to learn everything and mix it all together and create my own style. I want to be that fighter that’s not really compared to anyone.”
While Rountree is keen to make his own path, he’s also had the added help of former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva to aid his career.
“He was actually my idol when it came to fighting,” Rountree said of Silva. “I was really drawn to his personality. Once I met him and we became friends, it was awesome.
“Having him there now is even better because he’s a really good mentor. He helps open my eyes to a lot of things in a martial arts aspect and helps me grounded and focused on the craft and develop as a fighter.”
Rountree (3-0) will face his toughest test to date at RFA 33 in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Friday, when he takes on veteran Justin Polendey (7-2) in a 170-pound feature bout.
“There are so many emotions that come up when I think about it,” said Rountree of facing Polendey. “But all I can really do is go out there and perform my best and know, regardless of any outcome, there are no mistakes in life.
“I’m going to do my best to put on a show and the fight will be what it is. I’m sure it will be an exciting fight. I’m as prepared as I can be and as prepared as I’m going to be.”
Looking ahead, Rountree doesn’t have specific plans laid out for his career, but rather a path he wants to adhere to, which he hopes will influence not only his personal life, but his professional one as well.
“I definitely have goals, but I also live day by day,” he said. “I have a direction in life I want to go, but no expectations and I never work too hard towards one thing.
“I want to head to positivity, creativity, joy, and happiness. My goal is just to continue to head in that direction, and what else comes with that comes with that.”