The inaugural Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA) welterweight title is up for grabs later tonight (Oct. 25, 2013) at RFA 10, and in Mike "Biggie" Rhode's eyes, there is nothing his opponent, Alan Jouban, can throw at him that could be more challenging than what he faces at the Roufusport gym on a daily basis with the likes of UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis, Sergio Pettis and Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren, among others.
"You have to be on you're a game at all times in that Roufusport training room man," Rhodes said recently as a guest on Darce Side Radio. "We are all killers. Everybody in that room is dangerous at any given moment. I think that's why our striking is so good, because the level of competition we go up against everyday is better than what we face in the cage sometimes."
Rhodes, who earned the nickname "Biggie" after weighing as much as 270 pounds after breaking his leg in a High School football game, attributes his early success to his work ethic. Living and training with both Pettis brothers, and seeing how hard they work and what they have accomplished is a huge influence on him also.
"Training with those guys and seeing the work ethic they put in every day, shows me what I need to put in to get to the UFC and ultimately be a champion there," Rhodes said.
The Iowa-based welterweight is already talking about UFC titles and he hasn't defeated Jouban to earn the RFA title yet. To say he is confident is an obvious understatement.
"I think that something that people lack in their fight game is confidence," Rhodes said. "If you don't know who you are, no one will. I know what kind of a fighter I am. I know what kind of skill set I have. There is no reason to hide it. There's no reason to shy away from it.
"People might not like how confident I am sometimes, but it's me. Ultimately, I am the one that has to step in that cage and if there's is any doubt in the back of your head that you are not going to win that fight, you might as well not get in that cage and fight, because you already lost.
"I am one of the most confidence guys you will experience. I embrace that, because I put in the work to be this confident. Training with the best fighters in the world, if you are not confident on the daily you are going to get your pride hurt in the gym and you might not ever be successful."
That frame of mind has led the Roufus sport fighter to a 5-1 record. His only blemish coming at the hands of current UFC welterweight Brandon Thatch at RFA 7. That is a fight that Rhodes said he will "get back some day," but it did help him improve as a fighter. In his very next fight, Rhodes starched Benjamin Smith with a KO in just 56 seconds at RFA 8.
"I'm a winner. I have a winner's mindset," Rhodes said. "You can't win every time. It was a setback. It hurt. Losing sucks when it's a one-on-one sport, because you have nobody to blame but yourself. I looked inward after that loss. I looked at the things that I should've done differently, how I prepared, how my training was. It motivated me to be a better fighter and to work harder."
Working hard is something that "Biggie" attributes to "growing up in Iowa and always having that hard-nose attitude when it comes to something you want to do." One of the most famous and hard working mixed martial artists from Iowa -- who is being honored on Friday -- is Pat Miletich.
"Miletich is an idol of mine," Rhodes said. "He is someone I look up to. Him being from Iowa just adds to the fact that when I'm done, I want my legacy to be up there with his. I want people to say ‘these two great fighters came from Iowa' and I'm compared to Pat, we are both welterweights... Hopefully I can make him proud and Iowa proud at the same time."
RFA, which Rhodes refers to as a "great organization," has become the unofficial Triple-A or developmental league for UFC. It is the only organization outside of UFC to use the hallowed Octagon.
"They allow us a huge platform to showcase our skill set to be seen by the right people, so that the UFC and sponsors can get a look at us," Rhodes said.
Several fighters have already made their way to the UFC roster. Rhodes feels that after his performance against Jouban, he will leave UFC with no doubt but to sign him.
"This fight is going to be exciting, Rhodes said. "We are going to be on our feet exchanging and one of us is going to sleep and it's not going to be me.
"Beating an opponent the caliber of Alan Jouban, and the way I am going to beat him, I think the UFC will be calling pretty soon," Rhodes says with confidence. "I'm going to relish the moment and take advantage of the platform and the space that I am on to showcase my skill set, gain some new followers and fans and propel myself to the UFC."