Looking in the mirror can sometimes be hard, especially when you barely recognize the person that is staring back. More than ever, society is geared towards people wanting to look good. A lot of people will take up the challenge of trying to lose weight and live a healthier life. But let’s face it, when results don’t come overnight, a vast majority of people give up and tell themselves that at least they tried.

Adrian “Road Rage” Rodriguez saw that a change needed to be made in his life. The results certainly didn’t show overnight, but the desire for a change in his lifestyle opened up an opportunity for him that he never really expected.

“I was a bit overweight. I was weighing around 102 kilos [224 pounds],” Rodriguez explained in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “I found out about a gym, and I went in there with the intention of losing a bit of weight, and I just really enjoyed it. I’ve been training for a bit over three and a half years now. I always liked MMA, so it was a good fit to be able to start fighting as well.”

In the eyes of some, a champion’s first title defense is the first true test of their caliber as a fighter. Winning a title is one battle, but holding onto it against championship-quality opposition is another story altogether. Rodriguez’s first defense takes place at XFC 20 on Feb. 15. He faces undefeated New Zealander Shane Young, who has finished three of his four professional bouts in the first round.

“This one should be a good test,” Rodriguez admitted. “I told Justin [Lawrence, XFC promoter] from the start that I just want to fight the best people out there, and I think that Shane is one of them. I am especially excited that he’s an international opponent. I think beating someone from overseas is exactly what I need to keep my career progressing.”

With Young making his way over from New Zealand, the bout is set to take place in Rodriguez’s backyard of Brisbane, Queensland. It’s the fourth time that Rodriguez has competed under Australia’s Xtreme Fighting Championship banner (not to be confused with the U.S. promotion of the same name). Having the support from his hometown is certainly going to give the featherweight champion even more of a reason to want to walk out with an entertaining victory to his name.

“I know that the crowd is going to really get behind me,” he said. “When [Young] comes out, he’s just gonna be hearing crickets [laughs]. The XFC crowd are always really excited for the fights, and I know that I am going to make one that they will remember.”

An integral part to any fighter’s success is always going to be their support network. Rodriguez is lucky that his family is close by and have already taken an interest in his flourishing career.

“Having the support of my mum and dad is very important to me. They let me live at home and want to see me chase my dream,” he said. “Having dad handle all my sponsors and everything like that is good because it means I don’t have to second guess anything that he does and it gives me the opportunity to focus on fighting and training.”

Boasting all five of his wins by way of stoppage, Rodriguez promises to continue to impress. Young has high credentials in wrestling in his native New Zealand, but Rodriguez is confident that he can overcome anything the New Zealander has to throw at him.

“In the cage, I never back down and I am always going to be pushing the pace,” he exclaimed. “I’ve always been pretty good with my wrestling, so it doesn’t worry me too much. I know I’m just going to go in there and get the biggest win of my career.”

The dedication that it took Rodriguez to continue to work at shedding close to 35 kilos (77 pounds) is second to none. It wasn’t really about building up muscles. It wasn’t about being able to partake in the social media buzz of “gym selfies.” Instead, it was about being able to better himself and thus lead him into a successful start to his mixed martial arts career.

Now that the weight he wanted to cut is long gone, his dedication has switched to striving to be the best fighter that he can be. If his willpower and focus is anything like that of what he showed in his journey to a slimmer body, there is no doubt that his championship defense on Feb. 15 will be the first of many.

Adrian would like to thank his sponsors: Bloodbath Fightwear, Innate Vitality, SF Sports, Victorious Fitness Supplements and Made2Fade Barbershop. He would also like to thank his parents as well as Advance Martial Arts and his coaches Mal Van and Matt Cooper along with all of his sparring partners.

About The Author

Staff Writer, Australia

Located in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, Neil Rooke has been writing about the sport of MMA since 2011. In the past, Neil has written for Cage Junkies and has written for Fight! Magazine as well as Fist! Fight Magazine. Neil is also a regular contributor to Fight! Magazine Australia and Yahoo! Sports Singapore.