Contestant on season 5 of The Ultimate Fighter and former UFC lightweight Rob Emerson recently spoke with BJPENN.COM. Emerson, who has been fighting under the Bellator MMA banner in their bantamweight division, talked about several hot topics including his past trouble with the law, the rumors about him and Ian McCall’s ex-wife and the failed drug test from his most recent fight.
Emerson acknowledges that his past is riddled with not so glamorous events, from his alleged gang involvement and subsequent jail time in 2000, to his arrest in 2007 for his involvement in a brawl that took place in the lobby of a hotel . Because of his past Emerson feels like he was never given a fair shot when it came to his image, “I always wanted to let my fighting do the talking and they can judge me as a fighter. I feel like I never got a fair chance at that.”
The arrest in 2000, that stemmed from his alleged involvement in gang activity, ultimately led to two months in jail. Emerson’s side of the story is that he was just caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, “I was just guilty by association. But I got the jail time because I had to sign a plea agreement. With a plea agreement they can put whatever they want,” Emerson continued, “I had a really hard time signing that paper, because I was admitting to something I didn’t do.”
“I signed a guilty plea agreement in exchange for 9-month sentence, opposed to 3 or 4-year prison sentence.”
“People see the YouTube video out there and judge me from that. The facts are that I got out of the car that night to help the kid that was unconscious and about to get kicked in the head. I got out of the car to stop that fight and break it up. If I didn’t get out of the car that night, the kid had steel plates in his head and who knows what would have happened if I didn’t get out of the car and break it up when I did.”
Emerson is older now and he agrees that with age comes wisdom. Now that he’s older and has had time to mature, he understands why he acted the way that he did, “Absolutely, when you’re young you have no sense of consequences. You act out whenever you want to act out. I got in a lot of street fights growing up, more so than your average bear.”
“I just had zero tolerance for bullies. I was bullied growing up, in high school I got picked on a lot. When I got old enough to figure out that I could knock these guys out I started getting in a lot of fights because I was so tired of people picking on me and picking on other people.
“Never once have I ever jumped anybody or hit anybody with a beer bottle, that stuff is for cowards.”
Next up, Emerson talked about the whole Ian McCall situation. If you don’t know about it, the short story is that in 2013 the UFC flyweight fighter announced on Twitter that he caught Emerson getting intimate with his estranged wife. Emerson said with that story a lot of the information that came out wasn’t exactly factual.
“There’s a bunch of facts from that that were thrown around and misconstrued as well. That fact of the matter is that me and his ex-wife, we go way back, I knew her years before. We hung out way back then, but nothing ever happened. I think Ian [McCall] thought that something happened back then, which it didn’t. When that incident happened I was actually going to hang out with her friend. Her friend texted me so I went and hung out with her. Her friend left and as I was getting ready to leave, I had my backpack on and I was ready to leave, and I guess Ian came home from practice. At this point they were already legally separated and Ian wasn’t even living there. Ian came home from practice and saw me there, it was really awkward. I probably shouldn’t have been there in the first place.”
Emerson has moved past the incident and thinks that McCall, who he’s known for almost 20 years, has moved on also. He said that he’s proud of the UFC flyweight and everything that he’s accomplishing in the sport.
More recently, Emerson was in the news for a failed post-fight drug test at Bellator 127 in 2014. Emerson tested positive for the prescription drug Provigil.
“Yeah, that was a huge shocker for me. It was a shocker having to deal with this. I’ve been diagnosed with turrets syndrome and OCD and like ADHD since I was a little kid so I’ve always been on some form of medication. Everyone that knows me knows that I’m a head case. I over analyze everything and I over analyze my opponents and I have this really obsessive-compulsive way of thinking. So I tried to find a medication to control that and a doctor of mine prescribed me a few different medications that we were going to try that were different.”
“He didn’t know and I didn’t know that these were performance-enhancing drugs. I took one the day of the fight and it didn’t even register with me that I was doing anything wrong. Even with the drug test, I didn’t mention anything like supplements or anything, because I didn’t think any thing of it.”
Emerson is in the process of dealing with the failed drug test, and hopefully getting his suspension reduced. He’s ready to move on and thinks that he still has a lot of fight left in him especially in the bantamweight division.
“I have a lot of life left in me and a lot of mileage left on me. I’ve been fighting for 15 years now and I haven’t lost a drop of blood. I feel I’ve never really been beaten, I’ve lost a bunch of decisions because of confidence issues, going back to my OCD.”
Emerson just wants the fans, who he says are the only reason he fights, to judge him by the work he does in the cage and understand that he is human like the rest of us.
“I want people to judge me on my fights and as an athlete. We’re all human, we all make mistakes and I’ve done my share of bad but I also just want my credit where credit is due.”
“I am in this sport to sacrifice my face and my health for the fans and for the love of this sport. I want to bleed for the fans, I want to be in the most violent, bloodiest talked about fights for them and for my love for our sport. I want to win for them, I want to lose for them. I’ve laid my chin on the line day in and day out in pursue of just one ‘glorious performance’ or what the Spartans would call ‘a perfect death’ since I was 19, and I’m 33 now. It’s all I’ve ever know the last 15 years. And if I can’t earn their respect from my fighting then I don’t deserve to be in this sport. I walk at 170lbs standing at 5’8″ with at 71″ reach. I hit like a middle weight and am as strong as a welterweight. At 135 pounds I will splatter many canvases with blood and sleep many men with my power. I still have so much orchestrated violence to show the people.”
Emerson left the lightweight division in 2012. After that he went undefeated until his most resect loss to Rafael Silva in Oct. 2014. About that fight, Emerson said that going in he had some pretty serious damage to his lead ankle that took place just six days before he stepped in the cage. Regardless, he felt like he still put on a show for the fans and says that moving forward he plans on adding more W’s to his record, declaring, “I will not lose again and if I do I will retire. I’m that confident.” Emerson wants everyone to know that, “The best is yet to come.”
Rob recently received a serious reduction in suspension term from the State of California, and hopes to return to action next month.