FightPost MMA Fighter of the Week: Khalil Rountree Jr.
By Kieran Cobley
This week’s fighter of the week was not easy to pick, with UFC 236 in Atlanta having arguably the best two UFC title bouts in history, with Kevin Gastelum vs Adesanya for the interim middleweight title, and Max Holloway vs Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight title.
Both fights were absolutely insane with all four fighters demonstrating heart, skill and honour over the course of five rounds.
However, I have picked Khalil Rountree Jr. for this week’s Fighter of the Week, following his one sided beating of Eryk Anders.
Rountree was the underdog coming into this light heavyweight fight, with only a 7-3 record and a recent KO loss to hotly tipped prospect, Johnny Walker.
That defeat though spurred Rountree to make a lot of changes in his training and fight preparation, with the American deciding to do his fight camp at Tiger Muay Thai in Phuket, Thailand, in order to more heavily focus on improving his striking ability.
This improved striking ability was on showcase throughout the three rounds. In the first round, Rountree landed leg kick after leg kick to Anders, evidently compromising the betting favourites mobility. It was evident just how bad the damage was to Anders’ thigh, with “Ya Boy” sporting bright red marks where his leg had been hammered with powerful kicks.
In the second round, Rountree looked to capitalise on his compromised opponents, using his speed and footwork to land multiple combinations. These combinations were deadly and as a result, Anders was dropped four times over the round, averaging a knockdown every 75 seconds.
Rountree showed great fight IQ in these knockdowns too, making sure to let his opponent up where he would clearly be able to inflict more damage, rather than risk being submitted.
It is a testament to Anders’ toughness that he was even able to make it off his stool for the start of the third round, with many fans, as well as commentators, noting that a wise decision would have been for his corner to have thrown in the towel and let their fighter fight another day.
The third round was just a sequel of the first two rounds, and Rountree was clearly going to win the fight as long as he wasn’t finished. Over the last five minutes, Rountree just kept it safe, repeatedly throwing leg kicks to set up his combinations, just to make sure that he would definitely be a winner on the judges’ scorecards.
Rountree took a unanimous decision win, with all three judges scoring the fight 30-26. The stats recorded were even more impressive for Rountree, showing that he had out-landed Anders 79-16, with 39 of those being leg kicks.