The two light heavyweights were originally supposed to meet at UFC 219 before Gaki was injured and now Rountree doesn’t have the same energy for the fight like he did for UFC 219.
“When I got the news back (that Rountree was fighting at UFC 226), I was more grateful that I would get another opportunity (to fight in the UFC). Then when they (the UFC) said it would be him (Gokhan Saki) again, I’m like ‘okay…cool.’ Before, when he got injured, I was very, very hyped up…ready to fight. I fought Michal (Oleksiejczuk) and lost, I had to kind of take some steps back. I was happy to have another fight, but it wasn’t the same energy I had before. Towards like ‘yeah, I’m going to fight on International (Fight Week) or I’m gonna fight in Vegas against a kickboxing legend.’ Now its like, I got humbled in that last fight. Now its just another big fight for me, I gotta continue to do my homework,” says Rountree in an exclusive interview with Fightful’s James Lynch.
Oleksiejczuk did wind up getting popped by USADA for a failed drug test in line with UFC 219, so Rountree’s loss did get overturned to a no contest.
Rountree enters the fight feeling something that the fighter has never felt before, which is the ability to finish the fight however he wants.
“Lights out…game over, honestly I don’t really take a lot of time to think about how the fights gonna play out. There’s multiples ways that I can finish the fight, obviously like everyone knows…Khalil Rountree likes to strike, likes to hit hard. Obviously that would be ideal, I love knocking people out. It just feels good, its a great feeling. If I need to finish the fight, I got multiple ways. There’s no area right now that I’d say I’m lacking, that’s a different thing to because I’ve never felt that way before,” says Rountree.
UFC 226 takes place on Saturday, July 7 from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada with Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, with a post-show podcast to follow.