Do you remember playing the first Mortal Kombat on Super Nintendo? Remember how one of the fights you had to win in order to win the tournament was literally against yourself? Well, that’s how Rob Sullivan feels about his next fight.
“I feel like I’m kind of facing myself a little,” Sullivan said of his next fight on Saturday, July 1. Sullivan will face Scott Heckman (22-8) at Maverick MMA 2 in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, for the organization’s featherweight title. Besides the fact both guys are the same height (they both stand 5 feet 6 inches tall), both Sullivan and Heckman have the same base. But that’s basically where their similarities end, according to Sullivan.
“We both look to wrestle,” he said. “We both look for takedowns, and we have the same build. This is a very good matchup, so this fight made a lot of sense for me. He’s been around for a long time, but I’ve made a lot of advancements during this camp and made a lot of improvements on things he still does.”
Sullivan noted his 100 percent takedown defense, and added that although Heckman has many submission victories on his resume, “they’re in areas that I don’t go,” Sullivan said. “I always stay pretty active in wrestling and I’ve never stopped that mentality, even while I’m doing jiu-jitsu.”
Sullivan (7-6) is coming off a split decision victory at Shogun Fights 16 in Baltimore in April. Sullivan thought he won all three rounds in his win over Chris Rollins, and believed his fight wasn’t the only one on that card that was subject to iffy scoring.
“The other fights were a joke with the scoring,” Sullivan said. “The judges don’t do enough work with watching MMA, and hopefully if they get enough complaints the athletic commission will look into it. There were plenty of guys who were not happy with the judging, and the athletic commission in general has grievances among the fighters. It’s likely they’re comparing MMA to boxing, but you can’t blame them too much because most of their examples come from boxing. I boxed as an amateur, so I know where they’re coming from.”
Sullivan is well-known among Shogun Fights fans in his native Maryland, but he isn’t intimidated about fighting Heckman on his turf on July 1.
“You need a certain number of fights to fight a guy like that, and I was six weeks out when I was offered the fight, so it was easy for me to turn the switch back into fight mode,” Sullivan said. “Every fight is dangerous, but it’s different when a guy has 20 knockouts or always puts people to sleep. He’s won many titles, but there’s no pressure on me going into his hometown.”
Sullivan mentioned that he took on a “financial gamble” to help bring people to his fight with Heckman – one of the many obstacles fighters like him encounter when getting ready to compete. However, Sullivan is facing Heckman at 145 pounds instead of 135, which Sullivan has competed at before. He credits his girlfriend with keeping his weight on track and managing his diet using new ideas during his last two fights.
“Usually when it’s a week-and-half out from the fight, I ask myself what the fuck am I doing,” Sullivan said. “But that happens when you’re dieting and staring at food all the time. Cutting weight really sucks and when you travel up to the fight the day before weigh-ins, you’re fasting during the trip and you have no energy for cardio, even though you should still do it.
“I always feel I’m getting better in my boxing,” Sullivan said. “I’m dangerous in the pocket, and no one wants to stand with me. I feel really complete right now. There’s very little risk in taking this fight. I know they want him to win, but I still want to bring something to the show. The promoter told me the fight is going to sellout because of him. But it’s been way worse for me, because I’ve fought in my sold-out hometown in front of 3,000-5,000 people. I don’t want to piss off the crowd, but they won’t know how to react when I win the belt.”