That ascension should continue on schedule if he can get past the always-dangerous Vinc Pichel. If he’s nervous about his opponent, it doesn’t show. His self-critique post-fight is countered by a cerebral, pre-fight confidence in his game plan.
“I think he’s just going to come in and come forward. He’s gonna try to push me against the cage, try and knock me out, hit me with some big shots. But that’s what everybody’s been doing. My last guy [Darrell Horcher] tried to do the same thing; he pushed the pace, came forward. So I think this fight is just like every other fight. I just gotta go in there and do me. Stay focused.”
Roberts certainly seems to have the wind at his back, and his story is all the more striking when you find out it almost didn’t happen. After overcoming a troubled early life to find his footing in MMA, he suffered the tragic loss of his two closest allies. Devastated, he almost gave up the sport entirely.
“Man, it was life changing, because I had two cousins pass away that same year. Those two, Lance and Anthony, those two were my biggest supporters. They always told me I was going to be something, always told me if I keep going in this sport that I was going to do something great, like I was meant for this. And when they died, it was like, ‘Damn, what am I going to do now?’”
Then the call for the Contender Series came.
“I felt like that was a sign for me just to keep going forward, to keep using them as motivation. Because when they died I was feeling like I wanted to stop. But I got the call to Contender Series, and I got the contract. It was like a sign from them. And I was just thinking, ‘Damn, y’all boys was right. I’m supposed to be here. This is what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Steve Latrell is a writer and producer for UFC.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheUFSteve