Las Vegas, NV — Following a blistering knockout of Chris Daukaus at UFC Vegas 78, Khalil Rountree Jr. didn’t call out an opponent, or a date, but rather, a placement. That is, he wants to headline a UFC event for the first time, and fight five rounds.
Following Saturday’s event, where Rountree (12-5, 1NC) extended his win streak to four straight, the deadly striker elaborated on that request.
“The reason why I want to fight five rounds is because I want to be ready for a championship fight as soon as possible,” explained Rountree. “I’m ready for a title, internally. But, I’ve got to fight five rounds before I can fully say that. I’ve never fought a main event before and all these things, but where my mind is and the direction I’m going, I’m here to fight the best, I’m here to go out there and be a contender. So whoever makes sense in a main event, to help either of us to get towards that belt, then that’s who it is.”
Whether Rountree gets his wish or not remains to be seen. But his success of late is undeniable, having produced three stoppages in his four recent wins. He credits that success to his coaches, including Lorenzo Pavlica and Syndicate MMA’s John Wood.
“At the beginning of my career, when I first got signed to the UFC, I dealt with a little bit of struggles. Really didn’t know if I belonged in the UFC, all this stuff, I’m just kind of riding the wave,” recalled an emotional Rountree. “My career at the beginning was a bit of a fluke, if I’m being honest. Went through The Ultimate Fighter, lost, won, didn’t win finals, got granted a contract, it was a lot of ups and downs.”
“Both of those guys together have put a lot of belief in me and actually have been with me this whole journey, through my ups and downs, through a lot of different phases of my life,” Rountree continued. Lorenzo specifically, added Rountree, has helped him step into his role as a professional athlete, pushing him to the best of his physical abilities. “All of that just helps me have so much more confidence and belief in myself, when I have someone like that working with me personally and holding me to a high standard.”
Believing that he is great has not been easy for Khalil Rountree Jr.
“For me, personally, it’s a bit hard. I’m finally getting into a space where I’m accepting who I am. I’m accepting that I’m Khalil Rountree, UFC fighter,” he noted. “I have people that acknowledge me or are fans, and things like that, but sometimes I don’t feel it myself.”
“I don’t wake up in the morning and think ‘oh I’m Khalil Rountree, UFC fighter.’ I’m still trying to overcome things from the past internally and heal past scars and things like that. But I’m doing it all through training, which is then producing good results in the cage, which is then, I’m like, okay I can finally feel authentic when I step into who I am, and what I am and what I do.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 78 post-fight press conference with Khalil Rountree Jr. above.