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Armed with new six-fight contract, Bellator’s Saul Rogers targets featherweight elite

Bellator’s featherweight grand prix resumes Thursday night, and one man will be watching with renewed fire in his belly after suffering the heartache of elimination from the tournament.

England’s Saul Rogers was edged out on the scorecards at Bellator 228 by Germany’s Daniel Weichel, who takes on Emmanuel Sanchez in the quarterfinals at Bellator 252. The card’s main event also features tournament action, with reigning featherweight champion Patricio Freire putting his title on the line against Pedro Carvalho.

Rogers (14-3 MMA, 2-1 BMMA) has had plenty of time to assess things following his September 2019 loss to Weichel, and bounced back in decisive fashion at Bellator Europe 10 when he submitted Arbi Mezhidov in the first round last month.

Chatting on “The Brit Pack” podcast, Rogers explained how a change of mindset has brought everything into focus as he gets set to embark on a new chapter of his career.

“I thought my mindset was strong, but looking back to (the Weichel fight) and looking to now, I’m in 100 percent a different mindset,” Rogers explained. “Speaking to someone and telling them what they want to hear, ‘Yeah, I feel amazing, and this and that,’ is easier, but that feeling is different. Don’t get me wrong, I had such an amazing camp over in America, I couldn’t help but be sharp and be on point. But my mindset, it wasn’t there. It wasn’t the mindset I’m sat with now.”

Rogers said his days of paying lip-service to reporters in interviews are over, and when he says something, he’ll be speaking from the heart, especially when he’s talking about his desire to capture championship gold in Bellator.

“The mindset now is a world champion mindset,” he said. “I 100 percent, hand on heart, believe I’m the best featherweight in that division – there’s not a doubt in my mind – whereas before I would say that, but the conviction wasn’t quite the same, the belief wasn’t quite the same. But, honestly, the way I’m feeling at this moment in time, it’s inevitable that I’m going to get that belt.”

The reason for his renewed confidence and focus? A de-cluttering of his mind. Rogers admitted that issues away from the cage were affecting his mental sharpness inside it. But now, after taking the time to address those external factors, he says he’s in a great place as he looks to mount a comeback run toward the top of Bellator’s 145-pound division in 2021.

“I changed a lot of stuff in my private life. My training’s always been amazing, but I’ve had a few issues in my private life that have held me back or taken away from that mental aspect, and I’ve sorted every single one of them out,” he explained. “I’ve got myself a nice home now for me and my children, things are going well with my partner (and) financially. Any issues that were something in the back of my mind in the past are now gone, and now I’m fighting completely free.

“I was saying to her, ‘I want to be world champion now.’ I’ve said it a lot of times in the past, but I said it because I knew people wanted to hear that from me. I really didn’t give a (expletive). I don’t know what it was, but I woke up one morning and I felt it in my soul. I was just like, ‘No. I want that belt.” Ever since I’ve said that, everything’s been coming to fruition to guide me towards that.”

Rogers also received a huge boost in the form of a new six-fight contract with Bellator. During a time when a host of fighters, including a number of European athletes, have been let go by the promotion, it’s a vote of confidence in Rogers’ potential. Now he wants to turn that potential into gold.

“I’ve signed a new contract with Bellator, an amazing contract, to say the least, and everything that’s happening now is going toward what I’ve truly put my mind to, which is being world champion, and I’ve no doubt in my mind that’s what I’m going to achieve,” he said. “To see that amount of fights, I know they’re going to be fighting me regularly because this contract’s for 24 months. Now I’m with a company that is going to fight me three times a year and be consistent. I feel like that’s what’s been missing from my game, too, you know? A lot of people get behind me and support me, but sometimes when I’m fighting only once or twice a year, it’s hard to get that momentum. So this is a step where I can get the momentum moving and really get my name out there now.”

With a big contract signed and a recent stoppage win under his belt, Rogers is looking to re-establish himself in Bellator’s featherweight division. With the 145-pound grand prix eliminating top names as it progresses, the Englishman said he’d love to step in with one of the division’s big names and prove his worth as a contender when he returns to action.

That may even one day see Rogers cross paths with Weichel again. If it happens, “The Hangman” says he’d be more than happy to avenge his tournament defeat. But he said there are many potential routes to the top of a wide-open division. He just wants to take one of them.

“If I happen to end up being back in there with him, so be it,” he said. “It’ll be a different scenario this time, 100 percent. I’m not chasing it or desperate for it. I know the mistakes I made in that fight and I know how to rectify it, so if our paths cross again, I’m more than confident which way that fight’s going to go. But there’s a million and ten other fighters on that roster who are great fights for me, too. I basically want to fight the guys that Bellator are rating as contenders, and then there’s no doubt in people’s minds that, alright, yeah, Saul Rogers does deserve his shot.”

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