It was nearly six years ago to the day when Rob first started coming into the gym I was coaching at.

The gym was called TP Gym, and Alex Prates was one of the owners at the time. 

Rob just started coming to my wrestling and grappling classes and from there it wasn’t too long before our relationship grew organically.

It went from him coming in and doing a few classes to us starting to spend a little bit more time together.

We started to work together more and I started to pull apart some of his techniques – I’m a teacher by trade – I’ve taught at TAFE for thirteen years and much of what I do is helping students with learning their programs.

What I noticed with Rob is that there were a lot of gaps in his learning. A lot of skill gap development that needed to happen and so I put programs in place to close those gaps. 

Rob has worked incredibly hard at his craft, and it’s no surprise to see him be where he is today.

I often think back to when we were both 22, and the difference in maturity is huge – thank goodness haha!

I saw a young guy that was super talented – I could see that very, very clearly and anyone could see that. 

But working and playing in sport a lot in my whole life, teaching at TAFE in sport and fitness, I see a lot of talented people and I see people waste their talent everyday, I see that all the time.

So whilst Rob was talented I wasn’t that impressed because I’ve seen a lot of talented people.

The thing that really stuck out to me was, like I touched on early with his skill gaps, they were glaring and a couple of times I said to him – “This has to be fixed or that has to be fixed and we have to do this or you have to do that”, and at first I said it and left it… I’m not the type of person to do a hard sell, I don’t have 20K Instagram followers and I’m not that type of person. 

I just say what I think and I leave it and he came back and he kept coming back and kept trying to get better and kept trying to learn. We had a lot of clashes but he kept coming back. 

And that’s when I noticed that we might be onto something here. Because a lot of people are talented but not a lot of people have the ability to look in a mirror and understand what they’re doing wrong but he did and he took it from there and ran with it.

He started to take real ownership of his training and in the process his future career in MMA fighting.

Hard work is not that hard – everyone knows what they have to do if they want to be great.

Getting into the gym and training it’s not that hard, anyone can do that – my Dad could do that and he’s 80. 

It’s getting to bed on time, eating better, that’s what’s harder. It’s turning around to a couple of mates, who want to derail you by getting you to come out and party with them, and being able to say – “Mate, we’re not going to be mates anymore if you keep trying to throw me off course”.

Taking people out of your life due to their negative influence is hard, and a lot of the time it’s not that person’s fault – they’re entitled to live their life the way they choose to. 

But it’s understanding that not everyone is going to be able to come with you on the journey. That’s what’s hard.

In fact, it’s the hardest thing in my opinion.

Who you surround yourself with can often determine your success in this game.

Surrounding yourself with successful people, it doesn’t matter if they’re fighters or not. Preferably the less fighters the better but just being around people that are successful and they are going places and you start to pattern your behaviours around what they do, that is very important. 

They’re the things that when I saw Rob, I was like this guy is going somewhere and it’s cumulative, so the more he did that, the more he wanted to do it.

I’ll tell you something though… when people ask me about Rob’s qualities, one of the big things a lot of people don’t get the chance to see is just how much “time” he dedicates to being one of the best fighters in the world.

So many amateur fighters want to be great, but aren’t willing to put in the world to be great, and that’s the honest truth. 

If you see Rob’s schedule people don’t do that, they don’t do it here and they don’t do it overseas. 

Rob has to do 25 sessions a week and not all of those sessions are killers, some of them are stretching sessions and video sessions, but it’s a full-time job. 

All his sessions are on spreadsheets every single one of them, maybe you get through and maybe you don’t but not a lot of people do. 

We’ve got good guys coming through on similar programs and they’re going to make it through to the UFC and they’re going to be a Top 10 fighter, and that’s a 100% given. So you don’t have to go anywhere you just have to do the work.

I often get asked – “Where do you see the ceiling for Rob?” 

I don’t think the story is anywhere near finished and that’s the thing when you ask about goals, people don’t understand necessarily like he can lose this fight coming up and people will say “You don’t sound confident” – I think I sound confident I’m just not stupid to get too far ahead of ourselves. 

You lock two guys in a cage that are high level fighters and you think that there is no chance that your guy can lose, then you’re an idiot. Of course he can.

And it doesn’t matter either way, if he hadn’t of been meeting the goals and objectives that we’ve been setting out in training and he won, I wouldn’t be happy because that’s not good for longevity, that doesn’t give me anything. 

But if he went out there and he lost but he’s met all the requirements that we put out, well alright you lost the fight that can happen. But if you can do the right things on a long enough timeline only good things are going to happen. 

If he doesn’t train and he catches a guy and he wins, out of ten fights you’re not going to win most of them if you’re not training properly and doing your things correctly. 

So as long as Rob hits the targets in the gym and he does everything he’s meant to do, the outcome is the outcome and if you’re a religious person you’re going to say it’s in God’s hands, but the outcome of the fight is the outcome of the fight. 

Rob’s going to go out, Israel is going to go out and fight as hard as they can and the better guy, with better preparation is going to win.