After an extended layoff, former UFC and Bellator veteran Rob Emerson returned to fighting in 2016 with two wins for the Victory FC promotion.
Though Emerson was able to pick up finishes in his wins over Shawn West in June and Ryan Roberts in December, the wins didn’t quite live up to his expectations.
“As far as fight performances go, I didn’t get to show much,” Emerson told MMAWeekly.com. “Of course I’m happy and grateful for the wins, but I’m looking for exciting performances that people want to watch over and over again.
“It was good to get that (winning) feeling again, because before that, I hadn’t fought in over a year and a half, two years. It was nice to the changes I made mentally and how it positively affected my performances inside the cage.”
During his time off from fighting, Emerson feels he was able to add a lot to his game, especially when it came to the psychology of the sport.
“I just feel like a completely different athlete now,” said Emerson. “I look at myself differently. I look at this sport differently. I’m very aware of my body and I train with intelligence. I know when to push myself and when to relax.
“For years I had people telling me I was a world champion from the world down, and if I just fixed what was in my head, I would be unstoppable. I finally tapped into that, and flipped that switch, and now I’m very dangerous, and I’m excited to see how my performances will go from here on out.”
Emerson (19-11) will look to pick up his third straight win when he takes on Raufeon Stots (7-0) in a 135-pound championship main event at Victory FC 56 on Friday in Omaha, Neb.
“He doesn’t have the experience to deal with the weapons I’m going to hit him with, the power I’m going to hit him with,” Emerson said of Stots. “I’ve been in this game 15 years now, and martial arts for 25 years; he had his first pro fight in 2015.
“He is a decorated wrestler and is a young, explosive, talented athlete, and nobody can take that from him, but I’ve been doing this sport a long time, and I don’t think he’s acquired the technique and experience to deal with what I bring to the table.”
With his wins last year, and a possible win over Stots on April 14, Emerson feels he’s placed himself on track to get a shot at the top promotions in MMA again in 2016.
“My goal is to get back to one of the big shows, hopefully the UFC,” said Emerson. “After every fight that’s the goal. I think with this third title win, it will solidify my shot of getting back in. Especially with good performances, I don’t think they can deny me that (opportunity).
“If that’s not the case, I’ll keep fighting these guys and put my skills and hard work on display. I’m truly enjoying going to the gym every single day and doing what I do. I’m really in a place where I can embrace this and am ready to receive my success in this sport.”