Khalil Rountree Jr. discusses turning his life around after finding MMA and how he lost ‘100 pounds in 11 months’


Khalil Rountree Jr. won his sixth UFC win, defeating Karl Roberson in round two at UFC Vegas 50.. Following the win, Rountree gave an impassioned speech during his post-fight interview, saying he wants to make a difference in the world and inspire people through his own journey from “a 300-pound kid on the brink of suicide” to his current status as one of the best light heavyweight fighters in the world. Rountree spoke with Ariel Helwani this week on , describing his emotional journey before he discovered MMA.

“I’d say at the height of my depression and downward spiral, I was 19,” Roundtree said. “… This is the moment that everything began to strike me. My family was going to college and some were working. I lived in an apartment that had one bedroom with my mother, brother, niece, and sister. We struggled to pay $750 rent each month. It was hard for me to know what I wanted in my life or where I would go. I wasn’t even sure what it meant. I was 19 old, 305 weighed, and had two cigarettes per day. I also didn’t know what pills were. I felt hopeless. ‘I don’t care if I wake up today. I will drink and I hope I don’t get up tomorrow.

” When my brother and I were watching MMA one day, we saw a lot about it and became attached to the aggression and anger these men displayed. After seeing ‘Rampage” [Quinton Jackson] rip down a window on The Ultimate Fighter ,, I thought, ‘Yeah that’s what you want to do. …. It was a a mixture of being exposed to MMA and a feeling of just wanting to explode or give up. That was at 19 and that’s when I decided I’m gonna start.”

Overweight. Rountree had no combat sport background and was therefore starting from scratch. After looking up local gyms in the Las Vegas area, Rountree said that he and his brother decided to try the Wand Fight Team gym because they wanted to learn to fight like Wanderlei Silva. Rountree’s first experience at the gym was a turning point in his life.

” The first class consisted of a Muay Thailand class led by Michael Costa. He is an incredible trainer and the best thing is that he truly cared about each and every student. “So I went and I made sure that I gave my best efforts and just listened to what he was saying because I knew that I wanted to learn how to fight like Wanderlei Silva. After the class, I felt completely exhausted and he asked me if I had ever done it before. I replied, “No. Never.” This is my first time.’ And he was like, ‘I think you have a natural ability, natural talent. It’s a good idea to come back again. Tomorrow’s class will be at 11 noon. Please come back. I want to see you in my class.’ That was the first time that I felt that I had this open door acceptance from a kind person who actually wanted to teach me how to fight. This guy wanted to teach me how fight and help me become a better fighter. That was what I found that kept me going. I remember that was the day that I got home and I threw out my packs of cigarettes and was like, ‘I can’t smoke if I’m gonna be doing this. The smoke is so bad for my lungs that I have to stop. Every day I added a bit to everything else.

That day-by-day approach helped Rountree to continue to better his life. Rountree said that after a few months of training, his confidence grew and he decided he wanted to have an actual fight, which his coaches said meant he would need to lose 100 pounds. He did so in less than a year.

“I lost 100 pounds in 11 months,” Rountree said. Every day, I got rid of anything that was not good for my health from the very first Muay Thai class. It was first cigarettes. Next day, it was soda. Then it became, “Okay, I won’t eat fast food anymore.” After removing those foods, I felt better and started to exercise a bit. So I think the confidence started to come after about three months. It took three months to just go to training, and tell myself that I wasn’t gonna smoke. These vices tried to sneak back in, but I was able to keep it up by taking it day-by-day and saying, “You know what? Today I’m not going to do that.” …

I kept going with the program day after day, until three months later, I noticed my face starting to slim down. People started asking me if I had been working out and it was obvious that I got some recognition for my weight loss. Then I told my coach I want to fight and he was like, ‘Okay, you have to lose 100 pounds,’ and I was like, ‘Ugh, how do I do that?’ I just elevated everything that I was doing. I started running more. ” I stopped using my phone and just focused my entire life on losing weight, working out and being a better person.

He has made some great changes. Rountree was awarded a Performance of the Night bonus after his win over Roberson. He is currently on a 2-fight winning streak at light heavyweight. His overall career MMA record stands at 10-5, and 1 no-contest.