If you looked up "adversity" in a dictionary of mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters, Brian Foster's picture might be next to it.
Despite winning nine out of 10 and being on a four-fight win streak, he suffered (reader discretion is advised) an injury that was potentially life-changing as both a fighter and a man in training.
Foster has overcome all obstacles and put himself in position to soon challenge World Series of Fighting (WSOF) Welterweight champion, Rousimar Palhares. However, Foster has to first overcome one more obstacle, Jake Shields, who he will fight in the main event of WSOF 17, which takes place at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Jan. 17, 2015.
He recently spoke with MMAmania.com about how he plans to clear the latest hurdle.
"I've always wanted a top-tier opponent. I was on my way in UFC to Top 10, then I get cut, and then (Matt) Brown jumps to the Top 10, y'know, and it's just pissed me off a lot ever since. I wanted my opportunity man."
It's understandable that he feels that way given that Foster holds a win over Brown at UFC 123, one of several signature victories in nearly 30 professional matches. His most recent televised win over Gilbert Smith at Titan FC 28 didn't just launch him into the WSOF 17 main event, it also got him into a new camp.
"Gilbert, he had size, he had strength, and he has really good athleticism. That's who I train with now. I train out here in Colorado with those guys, so after I beat him I just came up here and I wanted to train with him. I wanted to learn from him."
Foster talked a little bit about the "bad asses" he trains at FactoryX in Colorado along with Smith, including notables such as Neil Magny, Nate Marquardt and Joe Warren, among others.
"You can't tell (Warren) a damn thing. He already knows what he's going to do. He's 'The Baddest Man on the Planet' for a reason. Hey -- that man says he's gonna run through you, don't doubt him one bit. He don't watch film on his fighters, he don't give a shit, he don't give a damn what you're good at -- he knows what he's good at. You're going to have to stop him to beat him."
Head-strong training partners like that have given Foster much confidence that he can beat Shields, who has long been one of the top-ranked Welterweight standouts in the world. Even though WSOF President Ray Sefo said this is a No. 1 contender eliminator match, it means more than that to Foster.
"Jake is my test, Jake is my championship fight. Rousimar Palhares is .. more of a basic fight for me. To say it would be easier would be stupid, but that's the truth. Palhares is a way easier opponent than Jake Shields."
He may be more predictable than Shields, because everyone knows Palhares is going to go for that leg, but Foster believes he's found the key to dissecting Shields in the cage.
"If I had to say what Jake's weakness is, it's in his transition from his striking to his takedowns. It's a very obvious thing for him. He's just one-dimensional. I'm very tricky and very ... greasy. I can punch you in the face and take you down before you realize you got punched in the face. He'll punch you, he'll pause, and he'll shoot."
Next weekend, Foster will get his chance to put that "greasiness" to the test against one of the best. The main card will air live on NBC Sports (check your local listings). Check out the complete audio from our interview below: