MMA FIGHT CORNER: WSOF 12′s Brandon “Hot Rod” Hempleman thinks he’ll be too much for Vila to handle
WSOF 12′s Brandon “Hot Rod” Hempleman thinks he’ll be too much for Vila to handle
(Courtesy of Heidi Fang www.mmafightcorner.com)
It’s been a year full of ups and downs for Brandon “Hot Rod” Hempleman (9-2). Ever since losing his debut to Marlon Moraes, recovering from a broken leg, and then seeing fight after fight nixed due to various circumstances, the Idaho native has seen his share of setbacks. Regardless, the tenacious scrapper with an impenetrable spirit is focused on making a statement in 2014 and putting those obstacles in his rear view. When the bantamweight joined the MMA Fight Corner, he explained how ready he is to get back on track when he makes his return at WSOF 12 on Aug. 9.
Following his hard fought battle against Moraes at WSOF 4, Hempleman spent months recovering from a broken fibula he suffered in the fight. Despite the injury, he wouldn’t quit against Moraes, putting on a gutsy performance with blood trickling down his face all the while. Somehow, Hempleman managed to pull through and go the distance with the current WSOF bantamweight champion.
The decision loss halted a 6-fight win streak he had compiled and marked just the second loss of his career. But the experience provided him with invaluable lessons.
“I basically just saw what the top dog was like,” Hempleman said. “I know what it’s like to be hit real, real hard now. I hadn’t been hit as hard as Marlon hit before, not even by heavyweights when you’re sparring in the gym. So I learned a lot about that. I changed my stance a little bit and I just got to see how hard I can push myself.”
Next, Hempleman was expected to trade leather in January at WSOF 8, but Pablo Alfonso pulled out of the fight. At WSOF 10, he was supposed to collide with Andrew Yates. About 2 weeks prior to their clash, Yates withdrew due to a broken foot, leaving Hempleman without an opponent.
“I was feeling down about everything,” Hempleman said. “It’s been an entire year since I fought. I was training, I was healthy. So healthy and training don’t really go hand in hand. I’ve been training with little injuries, little aches and pains, expecting all these fights, but putting me on the main card took a lot of the sting out of that. I was supposed to fight in January against Pablo Alfonso too, but he backed out with an injury. Since January, I was thinking I was fighting and haven’t had any fights.”
When he steps into the cage at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Hempleman will find himself standing across from a bonafide competitor in Alexis Vila. In 1996, Vila won an Olympic bronze medal in freestyle wrestling for Cuba. With a 14-4 record, Vila is fresh off his first WSOF win over Sidemar Honorio. Though he dropped to flyweight in his last outing, the 43-year old returns to bantamweight to confront Hempleman.
“I think he’s going to be a hard-nosed guy,” Hempleman said. “He reminds me of a miniature, darker, Dan Henderson. He’s going to throw his bombs and I’m going to have to stay away from the clinch.”
Training in Idaho with Bellator Jesse Brock and UFC flyweight Scott Jorgensen, Hempleman surrounds himself with others who help him push the pace. At Combat Fitness, Hempleman feels he’s evolved his game by leaps and bounds since his last outing. He’s also worked with wrestlers from Boise State, who he credited for sharpening up his ground game.
Dubbed “Hot Rod” by one of his coaches for his intensity and for “going a million miles an hour with [his] hair on fire” in training, Brandon’s proved he never backs down in the cage. Confident that his resurgence will begin at WSOF 12, Hempleman plans on setting a relentless pace and constantly pressuring Vila. Ultimately, he thinks it’ll be too much for his adversary to take.
“He’s got a mean left hook and an overhand,” Hempleman stated. “I don’t think he’s going to be able to handle my rhythm. I kind of spastic in there, I move a lot. I don’t think he’s going to know what to do. I’m going to keep him on his heels and I’m going to keep punching him in the face.”
WSOF 12 features lightweights Luis Palomino and Lewis Gonzalez in the main event at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on Aug. 9. The main card featuring Hempleman vs. Vila will air on NBC Sports Network beginning at 10:00pm ET. Tickets are available via AXS.com or at the Joint box office.