Jared “The Big Show” Rosholt hates losing more than anything. The former three-time All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State University - who owns the record for the most wins as a heavyweight in the university’s history – has proven that sentiment over and over again.
But coming off a KO loss at the hands of 37-year-old Ukrainian Alexey Oliynyk at UFC Fight Night: Edgar vs Swanson in November of last year, Rosholt is on a mission to erase the sting of defeat from his memory.
That’s bad news for any opponent, but even worse news if the opponent happens to be a former training partner and good friend. And that’s exactly who Josh “Cuddly Bear” Copeland is.
The two heavyweights will square off at UFC 185 in Dallas’ American Airlines Center on Saturday night.
“I don’t have too many training partners and it’s hard to find good heavyweights to train with, so you don’t really see yourself fighting one another,” he said of facing Copeland. “It kind of makes it interesting to me though, because we both have sparred each other and we know what each other can do, so it’s a different kind of game planning for a fight like this; there’s a different history behind it.”
Indeed, Copeland told UFC.com that Jared is the last guy he wants to fight, but with the fact that there only 40 guys in the division, it’s only a matter of time before one draws a friend to compete against.
“Josh is a really nice guy. He’s a good competitor too,” Rosholt says. “He’s kind of a juggernaut. He has good punches and he has a great pace for someone as big as he is. And he definitely has one-punch knockout power.”
The Big Show knows knockout power a little more than he’d like to. After all, it was a one-two combination that sent him careening to the canvas at 3:21 in the first round against Oliynyk.
“You have to be aware, and seeing punches coming is important,” he said. “My last fight when I got knocked out, it was a punch I didn’t even see coming at all. But one punch is all it takes. There’s five inches of knuckle making contact but there’s 250 pounds of muscle behind it, so you can’t stand around and slug it out with a guy. I know that’s what the fans want to see and that’s what makes us fun to watch, but it’s not a smart strategy. That’s a bad gamble.”
Part of the reason Copeland sought out Rosholt for training in the first place was to shore up his wrestling game, so it might be a good bet if you think Rosholt will look to take this fight to the ground.
The irony however, is that despite his previous wrestling prowess, Rosholt has landed just five takedowns in four UFC fights.
“I believe in my striking game,” he said. “My striking has gotten very good, and all around I think I’m doing really well. I believe I’m close to being one of the best in the division. I have the potential to do really well. If I come to a point where I can’t train or I lose motivation, then I will call it quits, but I’m nowhere near that.”
Indeed, the general consensus about Rosholt’s potential in the division is quite positive, especially after breaking Soa Palelei’s ten-fight winning streak last summer. It was a bit of a surprise when he was stopped by Oliynyk.
“Winning is always the most important thing,” he said. “Nobody likes to lose and I really don’t like to lose. In this sport you don’t want to make losing a habit, especially coming off a loss. I need to win. Whatever happens, I’m just happy to get in there and get back at it, but at the same time I really didn’t want to fight Josh because I want to train with him. Win or lose I hope we can train together again because we can definitely help each other get better. His strengths are my weaknesses and my strengths are his weaknesses, so we can make each other better.”