By: Griffin Marsh, MMATorch Contributor
Ultimate Fighter season eight vet Roli Delgado has gone on a three fight winning streak since being released from the organization in late 2009. Most recently, he defeated WEC vet Jameel Massouh at Bellator 37 in March, and the 29-year-old BJJ black belt sat down with MMATorch’s Griffin Marsh this week to discuss where he’s at now and to give his picks on Saturday’s UFC 129 event.
GRIFFIN MARSH: And ladies and gentlemen we’re here today with former TUF cast member Roli Delgado. First of all Roli, how have you been doing in the MMA world and just personally?
ROLI DELGADO: Ah, man doing great staying really busy teaching out of my gym in Little Rock, Westside MMA, and been working a lot teaching and that sort of thing and that’s gone really well. Also, I’ve tried to get more active this year; I did three fights already this year and I actually did a pro Muay Thai fight in New York City back in January so I’ve been staying pretty busy and working hard. After I got cut from the UFC I found a couple of grappling tournaments, like NAGA and Grappler’s Quest and yeah just working on my kickboxing, staying sharp on my grappling, wrestling and picking up some MMA fights and so far it’s all been real positive. I won a Grappler’s Quest, I won a Muay Thai fight and I’ve been 3-0 since leaving the UFC. So I’m still working hard, picking up some wins and getting ready to make another run at the UFC.
MARSH: Great, we’re all pulling for you. You’ve definitely done excellent since leaving the UFC, posting a 3-0 record, and in your last fight against Jameel Massouh, that was a really great win against a really tough, experienced fighter who I believe had 13 submissions to his name going into that bout. If you would, kind of touch on what that fight was like for you.
DELGADO: Yeah, I’m a big fan of Jameel Massouh. He comes from a really good camp and I studied a lot on him and he reminded me of myself. He had a lot of experience and was well rounded. He’s from a great coach Dave Strasser in Wisconsin and those are just hard nosed, blue collar tough guys. He’s an excellent kicker also. He really moves like a boxer, but kicks like a kicker and that was something I focused on a lot during my training. But it’s just a situation where you know, I’m a very underrated fighter and a lot of people are still judging me from three years ago or the fact that Andre [Winner] caught me and knocked me out. But we knew going into the fight I would be a lot better than him on the ground and it was going to be hard for him to deal with my reach with me being so tall and him being much shorter it was going be something that he wasn’t used to so we knew we had some advantages going into the fight and it was just a great fight that had some crucial moments; and luckily I was in shape and actually I went into the fight with a severely bruised right knuckle, so I couldn’t throw any right hands in my training camp and also I had a sprained right wrist, so basically I had to stay off it during part of camp. But yeah, that was a tough fight. I won the unanimous decision, I just feel I could’ve performed better.
MARSH: After watching the fight and seeing the heart/toughness you showed, I believe you gained a lot of respect from many fans and they know Roli Delgado is a tough guy; and with the work ethic you’re showing it would be hard for anyone to doubt a UFC return for you in the future.
DELGADO: Yeah, [at 145 lbs.] absolutely. I believe I’m one of the top fighters at that weight class in the world, and I don’t expect everyone to believe that, but I’m just gonna keep winning fights and then they’ll have to deal with it. I’m huge at that weight class and it’s hard to find fighters at that weight who can truly threaten you on the ground. And it’s gonna be a tough place for fighters to be. I’ve been working with Straight Right boxing, which I believe is the best boxing club in Arkansas. As a matter of fact my whole team has really been improving their boxing working [with] Straight Right. So not only am I working with the best boxing coach in Arkansas but my whole team is getting better too. There’s just been such a huge improvement with my boxing. When you get a guy like me where you’re pretty solid on the ground and then you have that awkward build where you’re so tall. And also I’ve been doing work on my Muay Thai with a great guy named Aaron Fisher who’s out of North Carolina. I fought that Muay Thai fight against a guy who only does Muay Thai fights and had as many Muay Thai fights as I had MMA fights and I just smoked him. He was 4-2 as a pro and had a many amateur bouts so I’ve definitely improved my striking drastically. It’s just a matter of time before you see me pop back up on the big show.
MARSH: Oh yes, and like I said we’ve all seen the work ethic and heart in your last fight, so there’s no doubt we should see you back in the UFC very soon. I would like to touch a little on your training because I cannot let you go without giving you praise for what you do for the local MMA scene, especially kids and just spreading MMA in general. Your gym Westside MMA has done phenomenal. Just give us an inside look at what its like teaching the sport you love.
DELGADO: Well not only do we focus on grappling, we are the only gym in Arkansas that is producing professional fighters consistently. There are a lot of excellent MMA gyms here in Arkansas but at the moment we are the only gym in the state producing professional quality talent consistently. We develop careers. And in a small state, a less populated state like Arkansas is, that’s something that doesn’t really happen often. Basically we wanna take fighters and get out of Little Rock and put them on the national scene such as we did with Mike Wessel and the UFC.
MARSH: Well your contributions and Matt Hamillton’s contributions to the local MMA scene can’t be measured in belts or competition. It can only be measured by the work ethic shown by all involved. Mr. Delgado thanks again for taking the time to speak with us today. Before I let you go. I do have to get your predictions for a couple of the fights tonight, Couture vs. Lyoto and GSP vs Shields.
DELGADO: Lyoto Machida is younger faster and is hungry. I love Randy and think the world of him. But Machida is too fast for him and Machida wins. On the GSP fight, I think the UFC has done an excellent job promoting the fight, but this is a one sided fight. Jake won’t be able to take GSP down and GSP’s boxing is just too much. One sided victory for GSP.
MARSH: Well thanks again Mr. Delgado and good luck to you in all you do in the future.
DELGADO: No problem bud, I’d also like to give a shout out to NAGA and Grappler’s Quest for all they’ve done.
YOU CAN JOIN WESTSIDE MMA @ 2124 MILITARY DR, BENTON, AR 72015 – (501) 663-3850