Photo of Bellator's Roger Hollett via Sherdog.com
For Canadian light heavyweight Roger Hollett, he feels he's been given a second chance.
Once one of the most feared 205-pound prospects out there, "The Hulk" rose to fame winning his first seven fights via stoppage, including capturing the Maximum Fighting Championship (MFC) light heavyweight title.
However, he suffered a horrible setback while fighting for the Extreme Combat Championship 205-pound title, tearing the ACL, MCL and meniscus ligaments in his knee during his fight with Lew Polley in which he suffered his first loss of his career. He wasn't fully healed when he returned shortly thereafter. And it showed, losing two of his next three fights.
Hollett made the decision to switch to Greg Jackson's gym in Albuquerque, N.M., and he hasn't looked back since.
Now in the midst of a four-fight win streak, the Halifax, Nova Scotia native will make his Bellator debut tonight (Nov. 12, 2011) at Bellator 57 against American John Hawk with a spot in the upcoming Bellator season six light heavyweight tournament on the line.
Hollett spoke with MMAmania.com during a recent appearance on The Verbal Submission, discussing the current state of the Bellator light heavyweight division, his goals for 2012 and how he thinks his fight will play out against Hawk.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What are your thoughts on getting this opportunity to fight on the main card of a Bellator event?
Roger Hollett: Yeah, this will be on the live TV. I'm really excited to be with them. I've been out for a little while and I'm eager to get back in the cage there and try to get a big knockout for my fans.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): This is an opportunity for you because, from what I've read, this is a qualifier for the upcoming Bellator light heavyweight tournament, correct?
Roger Hollett: Yeah, that's right. The winner of this gets a shot in the tournament.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I was in Canton when your upcoming opponent, John Hawk, fought last for Bellator. He basically fought a guy who was out of his league, but from watching him fight, he's a HUGE light heavyweight. He's one of the biggest light heavyweights I've ever seen. Do you have any expectations about dealing with this guy's size?
Roger Hollett: Nah, I've fought big guys before. They're all the same. I'm not worried about his size or anything like that. He should be more worried about his cardio and what I'm gonna do to him. His size doesn't bother me one bit.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): So you think cardio is going to be the major factor in this fight?
Roger Hollett: Well yeah, it will be because I'm gonna be coming at him, pushing the pace so I hope his cardio's ready to deal with that.
Roger Hollett: Well, he's a replacement fighter. It was supposed to be D.J. Linderman, which was a fight I did want. He's ranked up there high and he's a tough guy, he's no pushover, but John's a replacement fight and he's a tough guy, too. We'll see what happens.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I know you're a proud Canadian so are you excited to be fighting in Canada in front of the home fans?
Roger Hollett: It's always nice to fight in your home country. I'm used to it. I fought a lot in my hometown up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and this is my first time fighting in Ontario so I'm really excited about that.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Recently, Travis Wiuff went out and beat the champion in the light heavyweight division, Christian M'Pumbu, in a superfight. It was the first time a champion ever went down. Do you feel like his victory over the champion kinda put the division on notice and now anything's up for grabs even though M'Pumbu is still the champion?
Roger Hollett: No, because if that was for a title fight, he would have never made it to the fourth round. He was gassed at the end of the third round and he was holding on for dear life in my opinion. He was way less conditioned than M'Pumbu and in those later rounds, he wouldn't have made it.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): That's a very interesting point. I haven't considered it before because everyone was talking about how he won the first two rounds, but as you say, if that had been a title fight, M'Pumbu most certainly would have continued his momentum he started in the third and carried that through.
Roger Hollett: Definitely. He barely survived that third round.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Great observation there. I'd like to talk about you for a bit, get your story out there. You're 12-3 as a professional and you've had experience in MFC. I read that you also, on top of training, you spend time working with steel or welding, am I right?
Roger Hollett: Yup, I work at a titanium shop right now, just doing shop work, some welding, little bit of electrical and stuff like that.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): So what would it mean to you to get in this tournament, get in that finals. That $100,000 has got to be enticing for a fighter like yourself.
Roger Hollett: Yes, it is. It's $100,000, man! (laughs). I've never had that kind of money in my life and it's a big opportunity to get into this tournament. I'm really enticed and really hungry to get that money.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You're on a big four-fight win streak right now and you've been going out there and just taking care of business against your opponents with three of those four being nice stoppages. Do you feel like you've got a lot of momentum coming into this?
Roger Hollett: Yeah, I'm back on track now. Before, I had a bad knee injury there and I wasn't able to train properly, babying it and whatnot. I'm refocused now, down at Jackson's MMA, the best gym in the world so I'm really focused and things are really moving forward for me.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): And how long ago was it that you switched over to Greg Jackson's?
Roger Hollett: Ummm, it was a year and a half ago I think.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): So you know Buddy Roberts pretty well I'm assuming? He trains down there and you guys have the same management.
Roger Hollett: Yup, that's where I say when I'm down there, I'm actually at his house right now (laughs).
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): With Greg Jackson and those guys now in your corner, they're known for just terrific gameplanning and really helping fighters get the most out of themselves. Do you feel like they've developed the perfect gameplan to handle John Hawk's size and really push him for this fight?
Roger Hollett: Oh yeah, absolutely. They've got plans for every one of these guys and they've definitely got one for John. You'll see it working him on that night.
Roger Hollett: Yup, he just got back. I didn't get to spar with him yet, but the last time I was here, we got to spar a lot. Every day, it's a war with that kid. He's always tricky, coming up with new shit and it's good training.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You talked earlier about recovering from a knee injury. I know it's been documented. I know you got injured around the time you were in the MFC and that was a period that was a bit of a blemish on your career. Do you feel like now that you're healthy and you've got those four wins in a row and heading into Bellator that this is a turning point for you?
Roger Hollett: Yeah, if my knee didn't go, I might not be down here getting all this good training, who knows where I'd be? It seems like it almost had to happen for me to wake up. I don't know.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What are your goals for the upcoming year? Do you just want to go out there, beat John Hawk and go after Bellator light heavyweight title?
Roger Hollett: Absolutely, that's the plan. I've been watching these guys and I'm not impressed by any of these guys in the tournament so I'm looking forward to getting in there and beating the crap out of all of them.
Ben Thapa: Do you think you could beat Ryan Jimmo, the MFC 205-pound champ?
Roger Hollett: Yeah, of course I could beat him right now. I used to train with him. He knows what I'm capable of.
Ben Thapa: For you, what's the correct balance between the stand up and the grappling. Do you have a particular place that you like the fight to be in?
Roger Hollett: Of course I like to be on the feet. The fans want to see the big knockout and I want to give my fans what they want to see but I'm prepared to go anywhere and use the tools that I have to take it there. I'm ready for anything.
Gerry Rodriguez: Bellator's done a great job in the lighter weight classes. What are your thoughts on the heavyweight division?
Roger Hollett: The talent is definitely growing. The UFC takes up all the number one guys of course, so you have to pretty much take what you can get. The talent is definitely there, but the UFC is the big dogs and they get all the top guys so that's kind of the way it is.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): How would you like the fight to play out against John Hawk on Saturday?
Roger Hollett: I'm predicting a first round knockout. I've got some mean tricks up my sleeve for him.
Roger would like to thank his team, Jackson's MMA, Titan's MMA, his sponsors Wilson's Titanium Products and all his friends and family back home.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Will Hollett's career resurgence continue with a big victory tonight? Will he do his Canadian's proud and score a big stoppage victory in his home country?
To listen to the complete audio of Hollett's interview click here.