Before Cooley Rodriguez makes his long-awaited, highly anticipated professional MMA debut tonight for Combat Zone MMA in New Hampshire, the up-and-coming New England prospect caught up with FightBookMMA.
How did you find MMA to begin with?
Coming home from a party, drunk as hell, and my uncle was watching UFC Unleashed. He was watching BJ Penn put Matt Hughes in a reverse triangle, and I was hooked on it like a drug after that. The next day, I Googled “jiu-jitsu” and found a school in Tampa.
What is it that’s kept you out of the cage for so long?
They call it the injury bug, but I’m not built for war (laughs). I’m not a spartan. I’m a sniper. I’m meant to be in the bushes, not in the trenches — my body isn’t built for that (laughs). My mind has always been sharp.
What’s the ideal outcome for your fight tonight?
I really don’t care — I just wanted to get in there. I want to get my hands wrapped, hear my music — I just want the whole experience. I try not to think about the result, to be honest. I want the result to be a surprise, but of course I’m prepared and confident. I’m good.
What are your goals in MMA?
I just want to catch up to everybody, man! I want to catch up to my boy Rob Font, I want to catch up to my boy Calvin Kattar. I’m behind them, I’m lagging behind. I just want to catch up to everybody (laughs).
Are you going to be in Vegas next weekend for Rob Font’s fight at UFC 226?
Oh yeah, absolutely. My first time. This is probably the best year of my life. It’s been amazing. Cornering Rob in his Boston fight, then having my first baby girl, then having my professional debut, then first time going to Vegas. This year has been awesome, man.
And first professional win tonight?