Mike Reilly is proud of the way Brett Rogers fought Saturday, even if he came up short.
Rogers took a hard right hand to the chin from Fedor Emelianenko in the second round of their Strikeforce headliner on CBS and was unable to recover.
Reilly, Rogers’ chief trainer, on Sunday told MMAWeekly.com that while he disagreed with the fight’s stoppage, he wasn’t going to second-guess referee “Big” John McCarthy.
“You can’t fall down like that in an MMA fight,” he said. “He was defending himself, he wasn’t knocked unconscious, but it is what it is.”
The former Sam’s Club employee drew first blood with a stiff jab that cut Emelianenko’s nose open. He took a hard left hand shortly after, but surprised many by gaining top position and raining down blows.
Though Emelianenko eventually reversed the position, Reilly scoffs at the Russian’s post-fight statement that he was in no trouble.
“(Fedor) saying he was in no trouble was just a flat out lie,” he said. “He was in plenty of trouble. It wasn’t in his plan to break his nose and lose the first round.”
The fight was an entirely new experience for Rogers, who earlier this year was struggling financially in his goal of becoming a professional mixed martial artist. Rogers went out of his way to promote the fight as much as possible, doing countless interviews and traveling to help the hype train run smoothly.
Reilly admitted that experience gap between Rogers and Emelianenko may have been too much.
“It’s a guy who’s been fighting at the top of the sport for nine years, as opposed to a guy who’s been fighting at the top level for five months,” he said.
Still, he would love for Rogers to get another opportunity to face the Russian.
“We would love to do it again today,” said Reilly. “Go find us 10,000 people and we’ll do it today.”
Which path Rogers and Reilly choose to get there is the question. Reilly said he was open to whatever Strikeforce had in store, but a few options stuck out.
“We would love the experience of going to fight in Japan,” he said. “And we’re on Overeem’s heels, so wherever he goes. He sets foot on American soil; we’re on him. We were supposed to fight him in September. It grates on our nerves that the champion that’s been holding his belt for the last two years hasn’t defended his belt.
“If we’ve got to go through Antonio (Silva) or Fabricio (Werdum), then that’s what we’ve got to do.”
Reilly said Rogers would take no mercy on his next opponent.
“Whoever Brett’s fighting next, they should make their peace with God.”
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