Philip Rowe doesn’t see the need for a tough guy facade in MMA: “You can be a good person, you can have good parents, you can have a good upbringing, and this is just a sport.”
Las Vegas, NV — Moving from basketball to MMA, and making it all the way to the UFC, welterweight Philip Rowe (7-2) has had an impressive run in the sport so far. And he has some advice for those following their dreams. “All you got to do is callous your mind, don’t quit, chip at it every single day, and you can get to your goal.”
The lone winner of a UFC deal on week nine of Dana White’s Contender Series Season 3 spoke to reporters including Cageside Press following the event Tuesday at the UFC Apex. There, he gave some insight into how he approaches the sport, and his journey to this point.
“I’m a former basketball player. No jiu-jitsu, no boxing, no nothing. But I showed up at the gym,” he explained. “I remember going to the gym and I sucked so bad. I remember hearing my coach on the phone with promoters, saying ‘we got Tommy for a title fight,’ or ‘we got Jimmy,’ or ‘we got Johnny Barrett.'”
He took some motivation from that. “I just wanted him to have those phone calls about me. So I would just show up every day, work as hard as I could, work as hard as I could. Started fighting, I wasn’t even winning. But I just started fighting, I kept fighting, I kept fighting, I kept fighting. I kept losing. ‘Phil why you doing this? Do this this this.’ Kept a calloused mind, kept at it, kept at it, kept at it.”
“Six, eight years later, I’m here. Training with some of the baddest guys in the world. My main training partner, Jacare Souza,” Rowe continued. “I’ve trained with Mike Perry every day for the past seven years, Rodolfo Vieira.”
With that calibre of training partners, “coming into the UFC, there’s nothing that I’m not ready for,” added Rowe. “There’s no one in my division that’s going to feel like Rodolfo Vieira, there’s no one in my division that’s going to hit as hard as Mike Perry, and that’s a fact.”
Rowe got the win over Leon Shahbazyan on Tuesday, a much-hyped prospect and brother of current UFC fighter Edmen Shahbazyan. The third round finish was a dream come true, and while there was a bit of emotion in the fight, Rowe said that it wasn’t from his side.
“My thing with this MMA thing, and with these MMA guys, it’s all so much a facade with these guys,” he explained. “I see these guys all the time, and they’re all tough guys, and they’re all gangsters. It’s all the same interviews. ‘I had to fight my whole life, I had to fight for everything, I fought this morning, and I’m ready to fight again!’ It’s the same sh*t. You can be a good person, you can have good parents, you can have a good upbringing, and this is just a sport. You can train hard, and compete.”
Rowe said that the Contender Series left out a lot of his behinds the scenes clips, during which he clowned around a bit with his shadow boxing and other workouts, “just having fun and being myself, man. And I didn’t say a word about the kid.”
Meanwhile, Rowe said he saw Shahbazyan doing “all these interviews, ‘Phil Rowe this, I’m going to finish him in a round, blah blah blah. I’m going to knock him out.'”
“I haven’t seen the guy knock out a soul, [let alone] me. You all saw the result. I’m going home with a check, and a UFC contract. He’s going home bruised up,” he stated.
Watch the full post-fight press scrum with Philip Rowe from Dana White’s Contender Series Season 3 Week 9 above!