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Exclusive: Rob Kimmons expects UFC release after loss to Dongi Yang, but plans to climb back up

Rob Kimmons UFC on Versus 3 weigh in photo courtesy of Joshua Hedges/Getty Images/Zuffa LLC

UFC middleweight Rob Kimmons put everything he had into his latest training camp to prepare for a bout against rising prospect Dongi Yang at UFC on Versus 3 on March 3, so when he came up short and suffered a TKO loss in round two, it was hard to hide his disappointment.

“I’m sure that’s it for me in the UFC for now,” a dejected sounding Kimmons (23-7) told ProMMAnow.com. The loss dropped his record inside the Octagon to 3-4.

If that is it and Kimmons gets his walking papers, he isn’t going to give up.

After a loss to Kyle Noke at UFC 122, Kimmons had already planned to move to welterweight at some point. Worst case scenario, Kimmons will begin the weight cut and focus on the 170-pound division.

“I’m just going back to the drawing board,” Kimmons said. “I’m probably going to take a catchweight fight in Kansas City or something, maybe at 80 or 75, depending on how the training camp is going. Then after that go to 70 … get me a little streak going. I’m undefeated at 70, so I’ll be back.”

Going into the bout, Kimmons was optimistic about matching up with Yang. Unlike many of the other middleweights Kimmons has faced, Yang didn’t hold much of a height or reach advantage.

However, Yang’s power and technique on the ground proved too much to handle. Kimmons has been hit hard before (Jorge Rivera) and battled tough grapplers (Noke and Dan Miller), but Yang overwhelmed him with his ground and pound.

“He’s not the striker that either one of those guys are at all,” Kimmons said. “The reason he caught me…I was trying to bait that guy into just brawling with me. I had my hands so low because I really underestimated his power on the punching. I knew he’d be a strong guy on the ground. He just caught me clean.

“On the gound, he’s a powerful dude,” he added. “His ground-and-pound is probably better than either [Rivera or Noke]. He had me in mount and I was just stuck. I had to work my ass off to try to get up. Most of the time he had me just locked up. This wasn’t one of those fights where I overlooked some things in my technique. This guy was overpowering me so much and that was the difference.”

Kimmons took a good deal of punishment before the referee brought a halt to the action with 13 seconds remaining in the second round. As hard a time as Kimmons had, he was still disappointed with the stoppage, realizing that he almost made it to the final round. Maybe if he had one more chance…

“Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad stoppage; but when I saw there was only about ten seconds left, I thought, why did he have to stop it? Maybe I could’ve gone for one more grand slam.”

He continued, “This loss it hurt me so bad, but that’s what also makes me good. A lot of guys, they lose and they don’t really care, their smiling. That’s not me. I cannot blame this loss on anything, though. I trained harder than I have before, I dieted, [and] I ate cleaner.”

Despite the setback, Kimmons isn’t taking any time off from training, though he’ll have to wait before he begins to spar again.

“It didn’t work out for me that night, but I’m still confident that I know how to do this,” he said. “I’m not taking off any time. I’m going to take off some time sparring. Right now I can’t even chew my food. My jaw’s not lining up yet. But I’ve already got an appointment with my strength and conditioning coach. I want to get right back on the horse.”

It’s not much of a silver-lining, but if Kimmons is released, he’ll have a chance to fight back home in Kansas City, Kansas. Of course, that’s only a short-term plan until he makes his way back up.

“I have wanted to fight in Kansas City for a long time anyway, so it’ll be cool to fight here again,” Kimmons said. “I just don’t want to do it for long.”

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