Every mixed martial artist has had some type of encounter with the sport.
For former UFC lightweight Rob Emerson (11-10-1) it was while enjoying a cold Corona and a box full of donuts.
"The first time I was ever asked to fight was while I was watching some other guys fight," Emerson told Bleacher Report. "I was drinking a Corona in one hand and had a pack of donuts in the other."
"I said screw it, I'll give it a try. The guy I was fighting almost choked me out in 10 seconds, but I escaped and ended up knocking him out. The guys I was with said they never saw someone get knocked out like that before. I came back the next month and knocked another guy out," said Emerson. "It was a snowball effect from there."
However, things would take a turn for the worse as Emerson would lose six of his first eight professional fights.
Emerson would eventually find his way into the UFC, but a struggle and constant battle with alcohol ultimately lead to lackluster performances and finally his dismissal from the UFC.
To Emerson's credit, his worst days are now behind him as he attempts to make yet another run towards the his dream of a UFC title.
"I'm sober now and I feel like a new person. I've turned over a new leaf and I'm living up to my true potential now. I'm ready to show the world what I'm made of," said Emerson. "I got sick and tired of being sick and tired."
"I half-assed my career up until this point. I've fought some guys where I just kind of squeaked by training camps and then snuck by in the fights as well. Every guy I've lost to I felt like I've handed him a free pass because of the lifestyle I lived outside of the gym," said Emerson.
Emerson's fresh start will also come at a new weight as he's recently made the transition from the lightweight division down to join the featherweights.
Emerson, also known as "The Saint," will make his 145-pound debut when he meets Savant Young (10-8) at Tachi Palace Fights 12 on March 9th.
According to Emerson, fans in attendance and those viewing his return to the sport can expect a bout no longer than a round or two.
"I'm going to blast him in the first or second. I don't see it going to third, but my conditioning is there if it happens to make it that far. I don't think he has the wrestling or jiu-jitsu skills to take me down and keep me down. I'm going at him the second the bell rings," said Emerson. "My body and mind are great and as I mentioned, I'm sober again."
A win over Young will be Emerson's third win in his last four outings pushing him even closer towards his dream of returning to the UFC.
If things go as planned, Emerson believes it's only a matter of time until the UFC comes knocking on his doorstep.
"I'm 100 percent sure I'll make it back since I dropped to 145 and I'm going to blast two or three guys. I'll be back. I'm going to be a powerful fighter at 145. I've never been hurt and never lost a drop of blood at 155 so they won't be able to do that at 145. I'm athletic, faster and stronger than most of these guys already," said Emerson. "I'm ready and I'll be back in the UFC in the next couple of fights if everything goes right."
"I'm done with being mediocre. I'm not OK with that anymore. I'm destined for greatness and I want to achieve what I've set out to do. I don't want to be on my deathbed and say I should have done this or I should have done that," said Emerson. "I'm ready for a new start."
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