Rumble Time: Epic - Notebook
When Jake Roberts packed his bags and moved to Arizona it surprised many.
But his spider senses where tingling.
At 22, he had never lived away from Missouri and he felt he owed it to himself to take a gamble.
While in St. Louis, Roberts had never tasted defeat as an amateur (8-0) or as a pro (3-0) and earning all of those wins via finishes. He had been written about aplenty on this website and a local TV station, a genre that rarely features combat sports, did a profile on the "North County Nightmare."
The move was sudden but he felt needed.
So Roberts called up a family member and moved to Phoenix, AZ in February and immediately began training at the MMA LAB in Glendale. The MMA LAB is famed for its coach John Crouch and his prize pupil, former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson. But the LAB is more than just Henderson's play pen. The gym is stacked with established veterans and current stars of the sport.
So he instantly went from somebody to nobody.
"I came in as a quiet kid who didn't know a lot of people," Roberts said. "I kept my mouth shut and worked my butt off. Once they noticed I started coming to class every day everything started to open."
Joe Riggs, a UFC vet and winner of Bellator's "Fight Master", has particularly taken Roberts under his wing.
"It's family oriented," he said. "There are no egos. When someone has a fight coming up, the focus is on them. Everyone there is trying to make everyone better."
Everything Roberts learned as a fighter came from inside the walls at St. Charles MMA and the decision weighed heavy.
"I never turned my back on St. Charles MMA and still consider myself part of the team," Roberts said. "I wouldn't have gotten anywhere without them. Emotionally, I wasn't in the right place. I felt surrounded by 'yes' men, and it wasn't in the gym, it was the people around me. I was just too comfortable and if you're thinking you're too good or too bad, it is not good for your career. I needed to be surround by people who wanted the same things I wanted."
Roberts has settled in. He returned to the familiarity of working late nights in bars, like he did while here, but made a quick jump to a more healthier environment, catching on at a local fitness center.
"I had to get out of the bar scene," he said. "It was putting a lot of negative stress on me. I was like, I'm over this. I have to get away from this stuff.''
Roberts is weeks removed from a recent stab at trying out for The Ultimate Fighter. Things went well early as he cruised through the grappling round and moved on to the striking portion.
"I hit mitts with four other people for 30 seconds and didn't make it to the interview round," Roberts said. "There was plenty of young talent but I think they were looking for more established fighters. I feel now that they've gone through all of the dramatic stuff with stupid guys they're now looking at legit records."
At Saturday's Rumble Time Promotions: Epic, Roberts returns to St. Louis. Roberts will meet Arkansas' Tyrone Paige (2-1), who has turn your lights out power as evident by two of his first three fights as a pro have ended in KOs. Paige, like Roberts, had a highly-touted amateur career in Northern Arkansas.
"He has a lot more power in his hands than anyone I've fought," Roberts said. "There are times I can get caught brawling and if I do that with this guy I will get my lights turned off. He's a little unorthodox and switches stances. It's like a submission, if I leave my chin out there or let him close the distance I can go to sleep real fast."
The main event features two proud and proficient flyweights.
Ken Porter (7-2, 1 NC) will take on talented upstart Kendrick Latchman (3-1).
Porter is carrying the banner of hardest working man in St. Louis
The "Sensational One" is coming off a first round submission in January and a 2014 that saw him fight three times, going 2-1. Porter has also started boxing, going 4-0 record with 2 TKOs in just under a year of competition. Porter's career dates back to 2009 when he starting racking up amateur fights by the bushel before going pro in 2013.
Latchman is dispelling the myth that flyweights can't finish as he has TKO'd each of his two opponents thus far this year, including a 23 second victory in Kansas in March. Counting his win over Erik Newman in his final amateur fight in February, 2014, Latchman has won four of his last five.
If you missed Matt Frazier's article on Ty Flores, who fights Chad Williams on the main card, Click HERE.
Female submission ace Ronni Lawrence makes her pro debut against Sharita Davis.
Veterans Josh Epps and Malshon Ball meet at flyweight while Nikki Smith and Stephanie Alba and Adam Osmoe vs. Raul Rosas round out the card.
One and done
Osmoe, 22, made his pro debut in January under the Rumble Time banner with a unanimous decision victory over Raymond Gray. That fight was at 170 and Osmoe learned a lesson from the jump,
"I shouldn't be fighting at 170," Osmoe said. "(Gray) was a very big dude. I was cutting 12-10 pounds, he cutting from close to 200. There was a big weight difference and it opened my eyes."
Osmoe spent his amateur career at 155 and is welcoming the return back to lightweight on Saturday when he faces Rosas (1-2)
Osmoe is a tried and true grappler. He started wrestling in grade school in Mount Olive, Illinois. He went on to be a state qualifier in high school and eventually walked on at Rend Lake College.
He stumbled into mixed martial arts when he walked into the Hit Squad gym in Granite City when it run by veteran MMA coach Mark Fiore.
"I always wanted to do it," Osmoe said. "When I took my first fight it was a lot of fun. Now I want to see how far I can take it."
His amateur MMA career was on and off over the course of a three-year period.
"I would get fights in between seasons and during my down time," Osmoe said.
Rosas (1-2) will look to even his record against Osmoe after dropping losses to Kirk Huff and the aforementioned Roberts.
"He's aggressive," Osmoe said. "A couple of my friends have fought him. He can get a little wild on his feet and likes to get in brawls. I don't like to stand with those type of people."
Osmoe is currently studying Health education at Southern Illinois University -Edwardsville where he will graduate next May.
His scheduled has him all over the city and Metro East. When not in school he's working at a fitness center in O'Fallon and training will have anywhere from Watson's MMA in the city to St. Charles MMA for Sunday sparing to the War Room in Wood River.
For tickets to Rumble Time Promotions: Epic click HERE.
Doors open at 6 pm with the first fights at 7:30 and features three K-1 bouts on the undercard
Full Fight card:
Ken Porter vs Kendrick Latchman
Jake Roberts vs Tyrone Paige
Adam Osmoe vs Raul Rosas
Nikki Smith vs Stephanie Alba
Ty Flores vs Chad Williams
Ronni Lawerence vs TBA
Royal Shirmer vs Kenia Rosas
Alex Masias vs Cort Wahle
Nora Hamilton vs Canee Boyd
Oscar Abuatzi vs Terry Scott
Erik Newman vs Joey Valdes
Johnathan Bradberry vs Ricky Wisemann
Danny Quaite vs Matthew Ramos
Astin Broom vs Jamese Taylor - K1
Axe Wildridge vs Jared Medley - K1
Dewayne Diggs vs Brett Snow - K1
Chris Brooks vs Jarrod Thomas - K1
Rumble Time: Epic
Saturday, May 16th
Chase Park Plaza, St. Louis, MO