Jared Rosholt has been here before.
The former three-time NCAA All-American wrestler at Oklahoma State is the No. 7 seed in the Professional Fighters League heavyweight playoffs for a second straight year and needs two wins in one night to advance to the PFL final.
In 2018, he upset No. 2 Kelvin Tiller and was winning against No. 3 Philipe Lins in the semifinals heading into the second round before Lins ended the fight 45 seconds into the second by TKO.
The 6-foot-2, 265-pound Rosholt (18-7) said he’s learned from last year, and is focused on No. 2 Muhammed DeReese (8-1), who he fights Thursday in the main event of the preliminary card at PFL 9 at Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. Rosholt, like last year, will have to win two fights Thursday to advance to the heavyweight final on New Year’s Eve at Madison Square Garden to compete for $1 million.
“I kinda know what to expect having to fight twice in one night having done it last season, and with growing up wrestling and doing multiple matches in one day in a tournament,” Rosholt said by phone Friday. “I’m trying to just focus on the next one because that’s the only one that matters because if you don’t win the first then you won’t get to the second.”
“I’ve primarily been focusing on Muhammed and my cardio to be able to go five rounds, but I have watched both Alex (Nicholson) and Francimar (Barroso) though, so I’m prepared for either one.”
Rosholt, who went 6-2 in the UFC between 2013-16, found it a bit challenging to find video on the 6-1, 250-pound DeReese since the former UCF football player and Florida state high school champion wrestler hasn’t fought outside of the first round in his last four fights.
“It’s been harder to find footage on him,” Rosholt said. “I’ve watched what I can. He’s a little bit unorthodox and I don’t want to say he’s really wild, but... he is a little bit wild. Those guys are always harder to predict on their feet a bit. There are some things I’ve caught onto and over the years.”
Aside from having experience and a size advantage on DeReese, Rosholt also holds a win over Tiller, who submitted DeReese by a kimura lock in June. DeReese rebounded from that loss with a TKO in 2:06 against Vladrin Istrefi in August. DeReese then watched Rosholt secure four takedowns and outwork Olympic judo champion Satoshi Ishii in an unanimous decision in the main event.
“It does give me confidence with the way I won (against Ishii) when I’m in tight and in the dirty boxing areas that if I’m able to get the win over someone like (Ishii) in something that he’s good at,” Rosholt said. “That’s always been pretty high in what I’m good at in my skill set.”
How to watch
What: PFL 9
When: 5-11 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31
Where: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas
Live stream: ESPN+ (5-8 p.m.)
TV: ESPN2 (8-11 p.m.)