Worth the wait: UFC 152 light heavyweight Roger Hollett interview exclusive with MMAmania.com

Pictured: Roger Hollet. Photo via Bellator

The past month for UFC 152 light heavyweight Roger Hollett has been a "wild ride" of emotions.

First, he finds out he's signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, against a known commodity like Matt Hamill for his promotional debut on the UFC 152 main card.

Then, he's informed that he's off the card due to a contract situation with his former employer: Bellator Fighting Championships. Once he'd been pulled from the card in favor of veteran Vladimir Matyushenko, Bellator let him know he was finally free to sign elsewhere.

It seemed Hollett would have to wait, but fate intervened in a tragic way. "The Janitor," Matyushenko went down with a torn Achilles tendon and Hollett, free of his Bellator shackles, was able to reclaim his original position against Hamill.

Now, he'll be taking on "The Hammer" on the main card of a pay-per-view at UFC 152 this Saturday night (Sept. 22, 2012) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Hollett spoke with MMAmania.com about his strange Bellator dispute, what he expects against Hamill and the feelings he's experienced during this wild month-long ride.

Check it out:

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): It's been a roller coaster for you the past month. First you're announced to be in the UFC, then you're not and now you're back.

Roger Hollett: It's been a wild ride. It's been pretty crazy to say the least.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): It was initially announced that you were pulling out of the fight against Hamill due to an injury, but I'm assuming obviously you were fine because you're right back where you started. Correct?

Roger Hollett: Yeah, I have no idea how the injury rumor started. I was actually in a contract dispute with Bellator. According to their contract, even after they release you, they have the right to match the next offer and that's the card the pulled. (Sighs) They wouldn't match the offer from the UFC so I was just waiting for the release order from them, dicking around or whatever they were doing there. Obviously, they had to get Matt [Hamill] a fight so they had to put me back on the sidelines.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): And from what I've read, it sounded like they waited until Matt Hamill got announced to be fighting someone else and then the next day they came and told you that you're free to fight where you'd like. It was as if they were only doing it to stop you from signing with the UFC.

Roger Hollett: That would seem like it. It's hard to say. I'm done with them now and I got my fight back to I'm good to go.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Now that we're moving forward here, how does it feel to be back on this card?

Roger Hollett: It feels great. I couldn't care less who was in front of me at this point. I just want to get going back in there. I've got a lot of family and friends who all bought tickets, plane tickets and everything to see me initially and I was down on myself because of all the people who had spent money to go see me but it's all back in play now.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Now did you have any friends that cancelled everything when they found out you initially weren't going to be fighting at UFC 152 and now they have to go and scramble to get the tickets and flights again?

Roger Hollett: A few of them did. Some of them kept everything and were just gonna go anyways just because they bought them and couldn't get refunds. Whatever, it's all good now.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): For the people that aren't familiar with you, can you fill in our readers about your background, the people who you'll be introducing yourself to with this fight?

Roger Hollett: I come from Halifax, Nova Scotia. I originally came from a boxing background. My father was a boxing and kickboxing champion. My friend was doing jiu-jitsu at the time and I started doing jiu-jitsu around 21-22, got into Muay Thai by 23 and eventually transitioned to full on MMA when I was 25. That's when I had my first pro fight. It's all been uphill from there.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You had a unanimous decision win on the main card of your last Bellator fight. Was that what put you on the map in terms of the UFC or were you just in the right place at the right time being a Canadian free agent light heavyweight when they had a Toronto show coming up?

Roger Hollett: Well I wasn't originally supposed to be a free agent. I was scheduled to be in the Bellator light heavyweight tournament but I had a bad EKG rating. They call it an Athlete's heart, which is a little bit of extra muscle around your heart. Everybody who trains really hard has it because of the constant training and cardio. Well they were concerned because I had a little more, like it had progressed a little bit. They wanted me to take an echocardiogram but the doctors couldn't get me in on time to get it fixed and the only thing I got from Bellator was my walking papers. They didn't do anything to try and help me or anything like that.

I got my echocardiogram, everything was totally fine, and now I'm in the UFC.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Wow, it seems they only cared about you again once it looked like you were going to be signing with the UFC.

Roger Hollett: Yeah, it's definitely a roller coaster. It's baffling. It's a gravy train now though.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Now when you were initially pulled from the bout, did you just keep training in case something crazy like the injury to Matyushenko happened to get you back on?

Roger Hollett: Yeah, at camp I stayed training because all the other guys were training for upcoming fights so I took advantage of that to get some good training in. I didn't want to pass up that opportunity. I didn't know how long this was gonna go on for so I was hoping maybe they could squeeze me into the November card in Montreal perhaps but it turns out I got the call and I'm back on the Toronto card and I was more than willing.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): With an opportunity like yours, someone else's had to go away. Are there mixed feelings knowing that your opportunity to get on this show came from Vladimir Matyushenko's career potentially being over?

Roger Hollett: Yeah, no one likes to see a fighter get an injury like that. I hope he recovers and comes back well.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What are you expecting now against Matt Hamill? He's coming out of retirement for this bout and it's been well over a year since he's competed.

Roger Hollett: I don't know to be honest. We'll see how he comes out of the gate and approaches this fight. I don't take anybody lightly so I'll be more than prepared for him.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): He's stepped in there against some incredibly top notch competition throughout his career like Jon Jones, Rampage Jackson, Tito Ortiz and more. Is the experience differential a concern for you?

Roger Hollett: Not at all. He's the next step up for me. It's gonna be a good opportunity for me. I have nothing to lose this fight because I've been through it all with the pre-fight stuff. This is nothing to me.

You can follow Roger on twitter @RogerHollett.

So what's your take on Hollett's situation?

Is he just the victim of unfortunate coincidences? Or was a rival promotion going out of it's way to hinder the progression of his career?

Sound off!

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