So while that night at the end of June was a disappointment, both to Roberts and the pundits who tapped him to beat Pichel and ascend to great heights in the lightweight division, the macro view of his career-to-date offers a very different perspective, one that excites Roberts as he readies to return to the cage.
“After turning pro, I fought five times and then I got a Contender Series fight and then I had my first UFC fight,” said Roberts, whose UFC win over Darrell Horcher came two years, one month and eight days after his professional debut. “I had a little setback, but that doesn’t define me as a fighter and every time I’m just going to get better.
“It’s only been three years and look where I’m at,” he added. “Think about three years down the line? I’m going to be a whole different person, a whole different fighter, a whole different monster. I just have to take it one day at a time, soak everything in, not be too hard on myself and know that everything is going to come to me at the right time.”
That includes his bout with Yakovlev, who returned from a more than two-year absence in April, dropping back down to lightweight and securing a second-round submission win over Alex da Silva in St. Petersburg.
It’s an interesting matchup in terms of the “Tale of the Tape,” as for the first time in his career, Roberts won’t be entering the cage with a considerable height advantage, as both he and Yakovlev stand six-foot-one.
“I feel like his height and his reach are not going to be something that’s weird because I’m already used to sparring with people that are taller than me, like Jalin Turner and Curtis Millender,” offered Roberts. “I’ve got all these guys that are taller, longer, faster, hit harder, so I feel like this is the perfect matchup for me because now I can actually get inside, work some of my boxing and not have to worry about him dropping down for a shot because he’s taller, so I’ll be able to see it a little better than I would against someone who is shorter than me.