In a perfect world, No. 12-ranked UFC Heavyweight Jared Rosholt would've happily faced perennial contender Roy Nelson in late February, presumably on the UFC Fight Night 84 card, and everything would've been fine and dandy.
Except he's not. "Big Show" will collide with the power-punching juggernaut "Big Country" a few weeks earlier in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 82, which takes place this Saturday night (Feb. 6, 2016) inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
It was a minor inconvenience for the winner of three-straight Rosholt. However, the prolific wrestler from Oklahoma State University (OSU) is used to competing on the regular.
"I came from a wrestling background and when it was wrestling season, it was a grind all the time," Rosholt told MMAmania.com. "You'd go to a tournament and have multiple matches in a day. It's tough to do that, but to fight every three-to-four months is not all that hard to me."
Rosholt, 29, is a three-time All-American, who averages two takedowns each time out. With a UFC record of 6-1, it's been his wrestling that's put to good use.
His hands, meanwhile, aren't as fearsome, which is the reason Rosholt recently made an attempt to change that. Rosholt made the trip up to Colorado to spent time at Grudge Training Center, which has seen many mixed martial arts (MMA) greats, like Rashad Evans, grace its facility.
"The main thing for a big guy is to have other big guys to move around, which is a very hard thing for heavyweights to find, especially with established gyms like your Jackson's and AKA's," Rosholt said. "Grudge happens to have a couple of heavyweights here and guys that foot the bill pretty good for Roy, like Josh Copeland, who I fought and he throws a very hard overhand. Justin Wren, who fought Roy on The Ultimate Fighter, I'm training with him."
The move for a better training environment wasn't spurred by any event in particular ... just bad habits. Rosholt was knocked out for just the second time in his professional career by Oleksiy Oliynyk in Nov. 2014.
"There's a lot of bad habits that I had before and I didn't trust what I had learned, so it made it really hard for me to go out there and do the striking stuff," Rosholt recalled. "Now that I'm seeing some things and learning the basics that I should've learned years ago, it's correcting things."
Picking up an entirely new craft right out of college would be like trying to ride a bike for most, especially after you spend several years doing one task at an extraordinary level.
Sure, Rosholt is obviously going to fall back on his wrestling pedigree as a safety blanket, but in order to be a complete fighter and to contend with the brutes that populate the Heavyweight Top 10, he needed to ensure he was well prepared for the next set of obstacles.
"I think game planning for Roy is very simple. He's a creature of habit. He throws that right hand the whole fight," Rosholt explained. "It's kind of like Roy just does the same thing over and over again. The more you see it, the more you're ready for it."
With that being said, Rosholt has spent plenty of time in the film room watching tape of Nelson's victories and losses. The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 10 winner has fought a who's who of notable names in the 265-pound division, from former champions Frank Mir and Junior dos Santos to standout grapplers Daniel Cormier and Josh Barnett.
The one thing that's very difficult to do is knock him out. In fact, Nelson has only been knocked out just once in his career and it came via the freakish hands of New Zealander Mark Hunt. But no one, not even Rosholt, would tell you that they expect the former to take out Nelson with his hands.
"Nobody stands right there and goes punch for punch with him," Rosholt emphasized. "I've been working a lot on the timing of things, when it's okay to come in and when you've got to get your hands up and get out."
Rosholt hasn't exactly bum-rushed his way to the top of the heap in the Heavyweight division. It's been a methodical climb, with increases in competition level along the way.
Rosholt got a taste of that in his last Octagon jaunt against well-rounded Dutchman Stefan Struve, who he proceeded to grind out utilizing his ever-so-dominant wrestling at UFC 193 in Nov. 2015. But, now he'll have more tools at his disposal when he enters the Octagon for the eighth time against Nelson.
It's all up from here.