Family changes the life of a mixed martial artist almost instantly. Starting a family can give anyone a plethora of responsibilities, but it can also grant them with new perspectives on life inside and outside the cage. Some call those loved ones inspiration, others call them motivation, but at the end of the day, the athletes simply call them the reason why they fight.

Even while fighting, Rob Kimmons made time for his family. More often than not, he’d spend more time with them than he spent in the gym. And when he looked at those people he held nearest and dearest to his heart, he was reminded of why he fights.

However, just a couple of years ago, that all changed.

Kimmons (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

“I got a divorce,” Kimmons told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview. “That changed everything. I used to always put my family first, even before my job. And so for that reason, I didn’t train very much. I was just busy with other stuff.”

With the divorce, the door shut on one set of responsibilities, but it opened on another. Behind that door stood another opportunity: a chance for “The Rosedale Reaper” to start his own MMA school. Kimmons had always planned on doing that once he retired from competition, but the change in circumstances led to a new timeline.

“I’ve always said I was going to open up a school, but I always thought that’d be when my fight career was over,” Kimmons said. “But now I figured out that it actually makes things so much better. Having the responsibility, you know? Everyone’s blessed with different things, and I’ve always gotten by on natural ability. I never was known for being a gym rat, and now all of a sudden I have a responsibility. I’m in there every day, at least twice a day, and because of it, I’ve been better than I’ve ever been in my life.”

Kimmons will look to carry that positive attitude into Epic Fight Night 1 this Saturday in Kansas City, Mo. He will headline the card opposite “The Evolution” Tyler Stinson, who, like Kimmons, holds veteran experience in the sport. Kimmons rides a two-fight winning streak into this bout, whereas Stinson looks to improve to embark on a new winning streak after bouncing back from a two-fight skid to win his most recent fight. Naturally, Kimmons looks at Stinson as an intense fighter who brings a tough fight every time, which should explain why Kimmons feels fans will enjoy this bout.

“He’s a banger,” Kimmons said. “He’s long, he’s tall, he’s got reach, he’s good at using his reach, and he’s good at striking. I just think I’m better everywhere than him.”

Most fans will know Stinson for his stints in Bellator MMA, Strikeforce and Titan FC. In two recent performances for the now-defunct Strikeforce, Stinson dropped decisions to Tarec Saffiedine and Jordan Mein. Now, he comes back to face Kimmons, who certainly will recognize Stinson as a familiar face.

“We trained together back in the day,” Kimmons recalled. “It’s not like we were training partners, but we trained in the same school for two different occasions. I had the chance to roll with him, spar with him, and wrestle with him a little bit. I’m sure he’s way better than he was then, and I’m obviously way better than I was then, and I think the same thing I did to him then, I’m going to do to him [on Saturday], honestly, and that’s anything I want.”

In 33 pro MMA bouts, the judges’ scorecards determined Kimmons’ fate just six times. Of those six fights, Kimmons found victory four times, all via unanimous verdicts. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the regarded finisher will try to leave this fight with Stinson in the hands of the judges.

“I don’t care if it’s a knockout, a TKO or a submission,” Kimmons said. “I just want to finish it. I’ve had four fights now go to a decision, but I’m not a decision guy. I want to get in there, bang it out and end it.”

A finish rarely comes easy against Stinson, though. Normally, if a fighter plans on beating Stinson, they need to plan on either outworking him or looking for a submission. A 33-fight veteran himself, Stinson’s chin holds up well against the best of the best.

Kimmons (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

Still, don’t mistake Kimmons’ losses to Dongi Yang and Jorge Rivera for signs of a weak chin. His chin holds up very well, meaning that whatever Stinson or anyone else throws, Kimmons can and will take it. This trait in Kimmons means bad news for anyone trying to derail his quest for success.

“I was blessed with a Neanderthal head,” Kimmons said. “I’ve got a rock head. I’ve been rocked a couple of times, but it was always with huge people. I’ve fought at heavyweight, light heavyweight [and] middleweight way more than I fought at welterweight.. He’s been at 155 [pounds] for most of his career, he moved up to 170, and he’s good. I’m not taking anything away from him, but I’m used to huge people. I’m used to banging with huge people.

“I’m faster and stronger than I’ve ever been, and I don’t foresee anyone being able to beat me right now, not with the way I’ve trained. Anybody who is in the cage with me right now, I’m winning that fight. I wish it was today”

Rob would like to thank Supplement Supersource, Success Meals Kansas City, and all of his coaches, staff and training partners that helped him prepare for his upcoming bout this Saturday night. Follow Kimmons on Twitter: @robkimmons

Photo: Rob Kimmons (L) ties up his opponent (Keith Mills/Sherdog)

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.