Life is all about choices. Sometimes one’s success can be directly tied to a simple decision. And the hardest ones involve a great deal of sacrifice.

That same outlook can be applied to the sport of MMA. A split-second movement can be the difference between a win or loss. And getting ahead in the fight game can mean giving up something that means the world to a fighter.

Bellator middleweight Brian Rogers has lived through similar scenarios over the past six months. First came the stunning upset in the tournament semifinals in April. Then came the decision to leave his associate teaching job in Kent, Ohio, to focus solely on his fight career.

“I need to be more patient and consistent in the cage,” Rogers declared in an exclusive interview with The MMA Corner. “I started my career 1-2 but then won seven straight and got into Bellator. [Now] I’ve lost in the semifinals in the last two tournaments, so I have to get back on track and be consistent.”

Rogers was stunned after falling to Spang (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

The search for consistency comes after Rogers was knocked out by Andreas Spang at Bellator 66—a fight the Rogers dominated for the better part of two rounds.

“I am the superior striker,” claimed Rogers. “I showed that through most of the fight. I could have used a bit more variety and more angles, but basically I walked into his range with my right hand down. The one punch he landed all fight was the one that did the job. It was one of those things where I made a mistake and he capitalized. Often times that’s how fights end.”

Further pouring salt on the wound was the fact that Rogers was fighting in his own backyard at the event.

“It was really disappointing,” he admitted. “I don’t like to disappoint my family, friends and my fans.”

Obviously a rematch with Spang is something that Rogers would love to have if the opportunity were to arise.

“It’s easy to want to fight someone again when you know you are better than them, which I believe I am,” said Rogers. “If anyone watched the tape they would say the same thing. The better fighter was winning, but it is what it is.”

The loss to Spang was the second stoppage loss in Rogers’ last three outings, with the other coming against two-time tournament winner Alexander Shlemenko.  In order to right the ship, Rogers opted to step back from his job with the LEAP Program—a special education school for kids with behavioral and emotional disorders, and a variety of learning disabilities.

“I left teaching earlier this summer to train full-time,” Rogers explained. “That’s why I’ve been able to travel and do some different things. Right now, I’m just training full-time and hoping to put that to use. It’s just the business.”

Rogers (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Although Rogers is no longer teaching, he’s still working hard to make sure his students are getting the help they deserve. The 28-year-old has teamed up with to encourage his fans and supporters to help the students get the resources they need.

“I was training in Montréal and I met the guys from FundAFighter,” Rogers recalled. “For those not familiar with it, it’s a place where fans or friends can donate to a fighter’s training camp or whatever. Fans donated money to help Dan Miller’s son with the surgery that he needed, Charlie Brenneman has been on there, Joey Gambino used it to help get his coaches to Brazil for his UFC 153 fight.

“With each donation level, the fighters get to pick what kind of rewards they give out—t-shirts, hats, posters, autographs, tickets. I tried to take it a step further: I chose the LEAP program. A majority of the money donated will go straight to them. They’re in desperate need of computers, iPads, technology in general, to help them learn better.”

The importance of helping the kids is apparent in Rogers’ tone, but at the same time, he’s serious about doing what it takes to improve as a fighter. Deviating from his usual training at Ohio’s Strong Style MMA, Rogers has logged quite a few miles in preparation for his return to the Bellator cage on Oct. 26.

“I’ve changed some things up in my game plan, trying to get better,” he said. “Hopefully that will show on Oct. 26. I spent some time before this fight in Atlanta, down with Brian Stann, Douglas Lima and those guys. I also spent three weeks in Montréal, Québec, Canada at TriStar MMA. When I got back, my buddy Chris Camozzi came into town for a week. I’ve also been to Denver a few times to train with him. I’m just trying to get some variety outside of my usual training.”

Rogers is once again slated to compete in his native Ohio at Bellator 78. This time he’ll be facing off with fellow Ohioan Dominique Steele on the MTV2-broadcast main card. With a win, Rogers is hopeful of a spot in the next 185-pound tournament.

“Being home is a little different,” stated the man known as “The Predator.” “It presents a different challenge. More people from home want tickets and I try to help them out. Honestly, I like going out of town; for me, it’s a business trip.

“This is a big fight. It will set the tone for next year. It’s a good way to end 2012 and move into 2013 when Bellator moves onto Spike. That’s a much larger audience.”

Rogers (R) delivers a right hand (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

The fight with Steele has a potential for fireworks as the pair share a combined 12 stoppages due to strikes in their 21 total bouts. But that’s not what Rogers is anticipating.

“I think he’s a wrestler by nature. Being that a lot of people haven’t seen me on my back, I would expect him to try to brawl and then use his wrestling,” predicted Rogers.

“He’s a good athlete, has good scrambles and good hips. I just think I’m technically superior in all aspects.”

One thing is clear with Rogers, when he puts his mind to something, he won’t stop until he’s reached his goal. It doesn’t matter if it’s raising money for his former students or knocking guys out inside the Bellator cage.

“I’m a real task at hand type of person. What’s common in all sports is that there is a task at hand. In football, you’re trying to stop the offense. In fighting, you have to knock out, submit or outpoint your opponent. The same can be said of teaching, you’re doing whatever you can to help the students learn. That gives me a sense of purpose and drive.”

On Friday night, Rogers will look to use that purpose and drive to secure a spot in the next Bellator middleweight tournament. And although he’s no longer in the classroom, he’s still working to give back.

Brian would like to thank everybody at Strong Style MMA, Intimidation Clothing, Murphy’s Ale House, Executive Tailors, Swole Sports Nutrition, Smokey’s Dyno and Custom Cars, Haasz Auto Mall, John P Lennon, Sweet Sweat, Crow’s Auto Body, Green Ambitions Landscaping, True Assassin Fight Gear, Good4U, Fitness VP, Fast Graphics, and his largest donator so far, Andy Ruffner and RSG Commercial. Follow Brian on Twitter: @BRogthePredator

Top Photo: Brian Rogers (Andy Hemingway/Sherdog)

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