Middleweight fighter Rob Kimmons (23-6) went into UFC 122 hoping to put on an aggressive, exciting performance and up his record in the Octagon to 4-2. Unfortunately, only half of his plan worked out as he suffered a second round submission loss to Kyle Noke.
“Everything we thought about the fight, it was turning out the opposite,” Kimmons told ProMMAnow.com when asked about his Nov. 13 loss in Oberhausen, Germany.
It wasn’t a one-sided contest. Kimmons had his moments on the feet and pulled off a reversal on the mat in the first round.
“I thought that he was going to be the better striker and I’d be the better wrestler and our grappling would cancel each other out,” Kimmons said. “He landed a jab but then I landed four or five shots, and they were hooks. He was backing straight up into the cage and I was thinking, man, I might end this.”
Instead, Noke put Kimmons on his back and worked some ground-and-pound.
“I think I got careless more than anything in that first round. He did everything correctly. I was just being kind of stupid, losing my head. I neglected my takedown defense.”
Before taking much damage, though, Kimmons reversed the position and ended up on top and passed quickly to side mount.
But Kimmons strayed away from his usually more deliberate approach on the ground. Instead of solidifying his position, he got greedy and gave Noke an opening to pop back out.
“Instead of going ahead and securing the side mount, I thought, aw s***, I could go into a crucifix. That’s a junior varsity move … It allowed him to turn over, and even then I thought, I’ll take his back. But then instead of securing the position, I went for the home run again and tried to throw my hooks in and go for the rear naked choke.
“When he went for the toe hold … I’m really good at foot locks. I could hear my corner yelling, ‘Short time, short time.’ So I tried to immediately get [a leg lock] of my own. But if you watch the video, I was pulling his leg the wrong way. That’s just embarrassing.”
The second round started off in similar fashion, with Kimmons backing Noke into the fence with a series of strikes. But things quickly unraveled when Noke again took Kimmons to the ground from the clinch.
Kimmons’s knee twisted on the way to mat, and to make matters worse, Noke fell right from the takedown into the full mount. While critical of his own performance, Kimmons was also quick to credit Noke for taking advantage and getting the win.
“I’ve got a good chin, so I can take some punches, but he landed a good one and he hurt me,” Kimmons said. “I gave up my back and he sunk in the choke before I had time to recover.”
A 3-3 record in the UFC isn’t bad, and Kimmons has only gone the distance in one of his fights for the promotion. On the other hand, the UFC hasn’t been shy about cutting fighters to keep its roster at a manageable figure.
With the UFC-WEC merger, the margin for error just got that much smaller.
“Tomorrow’s not promised in the UFC,” he said. “It’s scary; I’m not going to lie to you. I was driving to my grandparents’ house for Thanksgiving and I was thinking, ‘What am I going to do if I do get cut?
“I really hate thinking about it, but if I was a painter and I wasn’t painting houses correctly, I’d get my ass fired.”
He isn’t taking anything for granted, but up to this point, Kimmons hasn’t received any indication that his spot is in jeopardy.
“I saw Joe Silva the next day after the fight, and he said, ‘That was a good fight.’ I was waiting for the but, but there wasn’t one.”
Kimmons added, “I always go out there and do my best; I finish guys when I win for the most part.”
And while losing is never fun, Kimmons isn’t taking the setback too hard, at least knowing that he went in there and gave it his all.
“Instead of being depressed, eating a bunch, drinking, I got in the gym way faster than usual. Normally I take two or three weeks off, but after this fight, I took off four days than got back in the gym and I felt so much better. I’m not starting over again. Now I’m picking up where I left off.”
Although he hasn’t made a firm decision yet, Kimmons is considering a move to welterweight. He’s still ready and willing to take a fight at 185 if the UFC has one to offer, but moving to 170 could alleviate some of the size and reach advantage he’s dealt with so far.
“Right now I’m trying out a new diet,” Kimmons said. “Pretty much all my fights at 185, I’ve been about four inches shorter than my opponent. I’ve fought 11 pro fights at 170 and I’m undefeated at that weight. I’m going to try to drop some weight now and see what happens and whether it could work. But if they get me a fight at 185, I’ll take it. That’s how I got into the UFC in the first place. I’ve never turned down a fight.”