MMATORCH INTERVIEW: TUF vet Roli Delgado discusses life outside the UFC, three fight win streak and gives UFC 129 picks

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


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UFC may stay in Canada forever: White ticket tweet giveaway turns into near riot

Dana White thinks big, but he never saw this coming. Before each event the UFC president gives away his last tickets via Twitter. His 1.4 million-plus followers watch for #Hunt4UFC tweets, then have to meet him in a matter of minutes at specific locations. We’ve seen one of these ticket grabs go down in person at a place like Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Within minutes, a few dozen people arrive to grab a 20 or so tickets.

Watch what happens in Toronto when White tweets that he’ll be at Dundas Square.

Within 45 seconds, dozens arrive (2:55 mark). The crowd eventually swells to what looks like 500-plus fans. It’s a scary, but impressive scene. Canadians love their MMA.

You can watch UFC 129 on PPV (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) right here on Yahoo! Sports.


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Ellenberger opens Spike UFC 129 telecast with a knockout of Pierson

Jake Ellenberger sent a huge message to the rest of the UFC welterweight division by destroying Sean Pierson in just over two and a half minutes. Ellenberger quieted the pro-Canadian crowd with a thunderous left hook. The punch landed just over Pierson’s right eye and forced him to lock up. A native of Scarborough, Ontario, Pierson fell helplessly to the floor where he was saved by referee Herb Dean at the 2:42 mark of the first in the first Spike television fight at UFC 129 in Toronto.

Ellenberger (25-5, 4-1 UFC)  showed some moxie by taking this fight on just 17 days notice. Brian Foster had to back out after a brain issue was discovered during a prefight scan by the Ontario Athletic Commission.

The American rolled the dice against Pierson, a solid MMA veteran, and it paid off. He’s now won four straight and is knocking on the door for a fight against a top 10 UFC welterweight. His only loss with the promotion came in his debut against Carlos Condit. That was a very close decision. Ellenberger beat the snot out of Condit in the first, but faded a bit late and lost a split decision at Ultimate Fight Night 19.

UFC 129 has produced a highlight reel of finishes. Five of the six fights have ended in nasty fashion. Ivan Menjivar and John Makdessi scored KO or TKO finishes while Jason MacDonald and Pablo Garza landed submissions.


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VIDEO: Dana White’s UFC 129 video blog part three (feat. tour of Rogers Centre layout)


Dana White’s latest video blog for UFC 129 features a walkthrough of the Rogers Centre setup for the event tonight. Check it out below:

App Users Click Here For Video:


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Florian asks White for another title shot while on TV

Kenny Florian will have his first fight at featherweight at UFC 131 against Diego Nunes, but he wants to have his plans set for the year. On national television, Florian had no qualms about asking the UFC for the next featherweight title shot after Jose Aldo and Mark Hominick’s bout at UFC 129.

About 2:45 into Dana White’s interview on "MMA Live," Florian, an analyst for the ESPN show, puts White on the spot. "Dana, if I get through Nunes and Aldo gets through Hominick, can

"As far as you getting through the title shot, everybody knows where you stand. You get in there, and if you make that weight, yeah. You’re probably in for the next title shot," White said.

There are two obstacles standing in Florian’s way. First, the weight cut will not be easy. Remember that Florian entered the UFC as a middleweight on the first season of "The Ultimate Fighter." Lightweight was clearly his most natural weight class. Losing another 10 lbs. will not be easy.

Secondly, Nunes shouldn’t be overlooked. His last three wins include a decision over former WEC champ Mike Brown, and he is already comfortable at featherweight. Florian is also returning to the cage for the first time since August. A knee injury prevented him from a planned fight in January.

Another championship shot for Florian would be a change of tune for White. After Florian lost to Gray Maynard in August in a bout that decided the lightweight title shot, White accused Florian of choking in big fights. In addition to the Maynard loss, Florian also has lost in each of his lightweight title shots.

Perhaps this is why White told Florian that another bite at the championship apple is in the offing. This can be KenFlo’s chance to redeem himself.


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Fight Day Live: UFC 129 Pre-Show with Yahoo! Sports and Heavy

Yahoo! Sports and will host Fight Day Live, a preview show for UFC 129, a record-breaking pay-per-view event at the Rogers Centre in Toronto. Join us starting at 6 p.m. ET, 3 p.m. PT on Saturday. Look for Yahoo’s own Kevin Iole and Dave Meltzer, Heavy’s Matt Brown and MMA Junkie‘s John Morgan to be joined by UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones, heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez and featherweight contender Chad Mendes.


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HYDEN BLOG: Randy Couture Retiring and the Era of Georges St. Pierre

By: Frank Hyden, MMATorch contributor


Randy Couture recently announced that his UFC 129 fight against Lyoto Machida would be his final fight. That’s cool if that’s what he wants. However, there’s no need for Randy to make this his final fight. It’s not as though he looks impotent in the cage, and there doesn’t seem to be a real danger when he fights.

I think as long as Randy realizes that he’s not the fighter he used to be, he can fight as long as he wants. He just has to scale back his competition. I actually think that’s the main reason why Randy has decided to retire, he knows that he can’t compete at the level he used to be able to. I’m sure movie roles and other aspects of life factored into his decision, but elite athletes don’t like having lost a step. These guys are used to competing at a high level and when they can’t reach that level anymore, they lose interest. It’s only natural that time would eventually catch up to Randy, though he can be damn proud of how long he was able to turn back the clock. It’s time for the next chapter in his life. Randy has earned all the respect he’s been given, and then some.


I’ve made no secret of how I think the fight between Georges St. Pierre and Jake Shields for the UFC Welterweight title at UFC 129 will go down. I just don’t think that Shields has the tools needed to defeat GSP. It’s not that I don’t think Shields is a good fighter, it’s just that I consider GSP to be one of the greatest fighters of all-time. Even in 20 years, GSP will still be in the top 3 greatest fighters of all-time. That’s saying something considering how quickly the sport of MMA is evolving. Athletes keep getting better over time. Even an average NFL team today could beat most every great NFL team from the 70’s. It’s why you can’t compare eras, it’s not right. Athletes today are bigger, faster, and stronger than they’ve ever been. Breakthroughs in science and technology allow athletes to do things never thought possible before.

MMA has come a long way. Compare fighters from even 10 years ago to fighters from today, and you’ll see a huge difference. Even taking that into account, though, I still believe that GSP will stand the test of time. There are certain athletes that can be taken from their era and put into a different one, and still enjoy the success they had during their era. Maybe not as much success, but certainly enough to still be considered a great. I consider Bill Russell to be the greatest basketball player of all-time. Some would argue that Michael Jordan was better, but that’s an argument for another place and time. I believe you could take Russell and put him into today’s NBA, or any other era in NBA history, and he would still be one of the greatest players in the league. What made him great in his era would make him great in any era. Bill Russell stands the test of time.

I believe the same is true of GSP. What makes GSP a great fighter today would make him a great fighter in any era. GSP stands the test of time. I would also put Anderson Silva in the same category as GSP.

When I say that I don’t give Jake Shields much of a chance against GSP, I don’t mean that as an insult to Shields. I think he’ll join a long list of guys who didn’t, and don’t, have much of a chance against GSP. I could run through the list of guys who fought GSP and got dominated. I could mention Josh Koscheck (twice), Jon Fitch, B.J. Penn, Thiago Alves, Dan Hardy, Matt Hughes, Matt Serra; they’ve all lost to GSP in dominating fashion. That doesn’t make them bad fighters, instead it simply strengthens the case for GSP being an all-time great.

The guys I mentioned are really good fighters. They didn’t lie down and let GSP beat them. They fought him as hard as they could, but it wasn’t enough. I think the same will be true for Jake Shields, he’s a really good fighter, but I don’t think he can beat GSP.

In any other era, the UFC Welterweight Title would be one of the most hotly-contested titles in history. The division is stacked with really good fighters, and the belt could easily change hands every time it was fought for. However, this isn’t any era, this is GSP’s era. He stands head and shoulders above everyone else. Every time he fights, GSP just adds to his legend. Nothing against Jake Shields, but he’s just going to be another Wikipedia entry under guys GSP has dominated. There’s no shame in that, and he’ll join a long list of fighters in that entry. But as long as GSP is around, it seems as though everyone else will be competing for second place.

Comments and suggestions can be sent to me at


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