Part of that change was sharing his thoughts with his friend and jiu-jitsu instructor, former Ultimate Fighter colleague Joseph Henle, who brought Rountree back in a gi, back on the mats and back in the basics of “The Gentle Art”.
“If I really want to see what my potential is, I have to do everything, not just the things I love to do and the things that have brought me to where I am,” he said, echoing a personal challenge that most can probably relate to on some level. “I have to do the hard shit.”
He trained diligently and felt comfortable being exhausted and drenched in sweat.
He did not skip the wrestling class and showed up for every jiu-jitsu lesson.
He stopped cutting corners and changed his diet so that everything he eats is all plant-based.
“It all really helped with my overall approach and my overall mindset,” he said, reflecting on the changes he made and their impact. “I started to see different things open up, I started to have a little more confidence in myself and in my abilities.”
Days away from his 10th appearance inside the Octagon, the 31-year-old feels like a contender for the first time again.
“For me, it feels like I’m having my first fight in the UFC, in a way,” he said. “I have memories of being there and of the trip I took, but in a way it’s a new beginning, a new beginning.
“Before, I just hoped for a lot and relied on my talent, and now I’m studying film more and really trying to develop myself and be the best mixed martial artist and person I can be and see where this takes me. .
“I know where the other approach has taken me, so now it’s a bit of an upgrade.”
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Now comes the hardest part of all: getting into the cage and putting everything on the line against Prachnio with no guarantee that all the deep introspection, the major changes in mindset and approach, and the hours spent in the gym will result in victory.
This time around, however, Rountree Jr. is already working to balance those competing energies – the excitement of being back and the anxiety that comes with crossing the threshold into the Octagon – and enjoying the experience.
“Sometimes I’m so nervous, like, ‘What if this happens again?’ but on the other side, I’m like, ‘Naw, I feel really good! I did so much work and I didn’t cut corners, ”he says. “It’s a really cool place to be.
“How I would describe it is nervousness, mixed with a bit of fear, and the feeling of goodness and greatness is very even; they’re just as strong on both sides, and I think it’s a really cool experience because it’s really up to me to decide which end of the spectrum I’m going to stand on.
After more than a year of serious work in every sense of the word, there is nothing left but the fight itself, and Rountree hopes his efforts will help to experience that euphoric high that every fighter talks about chasing every. once he enters the cage.
“I really really wanna win, man,” he said sincerely. “I want to see what it’s like to win when I’ve done the kind of work I’ve done.
“I’m really, really focused on making this happen.”
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