It took solely 15 seconds for Karl Roberson to unleash the elbows that stopped Ryan Spann and earned the New Jersey native a UFC contract on the July 25 version of Dana White’s Tuesday Night time Contender Collection.

However earlier than we get into that, let’s first return to August 2015, when Roberson accepted a struggle with kickboxing legend Jerome Le Banner…in his first professional kickboxing bout.

“He’s a legend,” Roberson stated. “What number of occasions in your life do you get to battle somebody that massive and that established? And in Saint Tropez, France? That was an excessive amount of of a chance to cross up.”

It was a gutsy transfer for a child making his debut after solely a pair novice bouts, however he didn’t hesitate both.

“No, under no circumstances,” he laughs. “It was, ‘So when are we gonna do that?’”

And as soon as the bell rang, it wasn’t a one-sided blowout for Le Banner. As an alternative, the struggle went the space, with Roberson scoring two knockdowns (just one was dominated official) earlier than dropping a controversial choice.

“When the bell rang, it was like, ‘Oh, that is actual,’” he recalled. “‘However I’m already in right here now, I’ve received to get this completed.’ So with the ability to stand within the ring with that man, it opened my eyes that I might actually do that. I’m constructed for this.”

Simply two months earlier than, Roberson made his professional MMA debut, however after compiling two wins, he took the LeBanner struggle after which targeted on kickboxing for some time. In 2017, he returned to the cage, and following a pair of finishes that took a mixed 2:fifty one, the excitement was that the UFC was only a couple wins away.

“I had lots of people come up and inform me that I simply wanted to win a pair extra fights and begin knocking individuals out and begin making extra noise,” Roberson stated. “Nevertheless it was actually onerous for me to get a battle. It’s such a small group that everyone is aware of everyone and no one on the east coast needed to battle me. However with my work ethic and everybody round me, I knew it was gonna come quickly.”

“Everybody” round him is comprised of the gang of killers that make South Jersey their residence, together with Frankie Edgar and Corey Anderson. Watching and dealing with fighters which have already established themselves within the Octagon has stored Roberson sharp.

“Studying from them is like watching a masterpiece as a result of these guys have been there for therefore lengthy, particularly Frankie,” Roberson stated. “He’s had his ups, his downs, accidents, and to observe him come again from that and decide his mind about it, it will get me mentally prepared. It’s the identical factor with Corey Anderson – the work ethic, the psychological recreation. And the psychological recreation is ninety % of this. Whenever you get to the UFC, everyone’s bodily there; it’s the psychological recreation that makes the distinction.”

On Nov. eleven, he’ll get to check out his psychological and bodily recreation on the highest degree of the game when he faces England’s Darren Stewart. However to get to that time, he needed to win on DWTNCS, and he didn’t take lengthy to do it, together with his elbows making it a brief night time for Spann. For somebody already used to having problem getting fights, this wasn’t going to assist.

“Within the battle world, I’m a fighter and I need to be the perfect on the earth,” he stated. “So for those who’re asking to struggle me, in my thoughts, you assume you’ll be able to beat me and I’ve to show you flawed. Apparently, not everyone thinks that approach.”

Fortunately for Roberson, Stewart is of an analogous mindset, which suggests there ought to be some fireworks in Virginia this fall.

“That is enjoyable to me,” stated the 26-yr-previous, who will probably be returning to middleweight for his UFC run. “I really like individuals who will stand and bang, and ninety % of the individuals who say they may don’t. However him (Stewart), I watched his fights, I see the camp he comes from, and he’s a fighter, so he’s gonna come at me, I’m gonna come at him, and the perfect man will come out on prime.”