POSTED ON AUGUST 22, 2012:
UFC contenders and alumni prepare for action
It was only a matter of time. We can only keep things positive for so long in life before reality takes a bite out of your rear end. Same goes for mixed martial arts.
For all the reputable promoters, decent managers and dedicated fighters in Oklahoma you are bound to run into someone looking to screw you over.
Up and coming Tulsa fighter Chavous Smith upped his record to 3-2 with a big win a week ago in Oklahoma City. He earned his third victory in a row and what he thought was a nice payday.
Unfortunately, the check did not clear on Saturday or Tuesday when promised, Smith said. Fighting for a Better Youth was the promotion and Tim Wilson was in charge. He ran the show but decided to stop payments on all checks issued because he did not like the results.
All four pro fights ended inside the first round. Wilson declared shenanigans. He was scheduled for a hearing with the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission on September 5.
Smith said that with the impending commission hearing, as well as the threat of a lawsuit by the fighters, Wilson paid the fighters six days later. This might not sound terrible, but if you are counting on a paycheck and it arrives a week late think about the ramifications.
All is well that ends well in this case. And the moral of the story is simple. Cash beats check.
What drives a UFC contender to uproot, cross state lines and join a new training team? The typical answer would be a falling out with management or teammates. This is not the case for Bixby native Shane Roller.
"I moved back here to be closer to my family," said Roller. "My parents and my wife's parents -- all our family is still here. It is easier for my career. I have three kids. They missed their cousins and grandparents. It was the right fit for me."
Roller, you may recall, wrestled for Bixby High School before joining the Oklahoma State wrestling team. A chance to learn from Head Coach John Smith was impossible to pass up for the now 33 year old.
As we mention over and over, there is something about the collegiate program in Stillwater. The number of solid pro fighters emerging from OSU is remarkable.
"You have to work in order to get to the next level and be successful," he said. "I'm sure everybody that's been to OSU has taken that same training they learned from the wrestling program over to their mixed martial arts."
He has another big fight on the horizon. Back on July 7, he decisioned veteran John Alessio on the biggest UFC card of the year. He escaped with no injuries and told UFC management he was ready for another battle.
"Any time they call me up I'm excited to get in there so I took the fight," he said. Next up is Jacob Volkmann at UFC 151 on September 1. This is the quickest turnaround fight of his career. You can watch Roller's clash for free at 6pm on the UFC's Facebook page.
Volkmann's name may ring a bell. He is the fighter who threatened bodily harm to President Obama during a post-fight interview. The choice words earned him a visit from the Secret Service. None of this effects Roller's preparation.
"I've watched most of his fights," said Roller of the former Minnesota Golden Gopher wrestler. "He is going to keep coming after me. He has a good ground game. He is kind of awkward on his feet. His approach is to hit the ground. That is where he wants the fight. It will be interesting because that is where I like to be too."
Roller has shown steady improvement in his striking game. He now calls Ghost Dog Boxing home. Tulsa offers many high-level training facilities but GDB was the right fit.
"Gerald Harris, Daniel Roberts -- they have been in the UFC at the top level. It was more about going where I needed to go for my training partners. I've also worked with the head trainer there, Peppe (Johnson), before. I liked what he was showing me." Team Takedown still serves as his management team.
Having fought against the best the 155-pound division has to offer, Roller feels he matches up well against anyone. He battled current champion Benson Henderson into the third round back in the WEC.
He should expect more time between fights moving forward. Not that it will be considered free time. He is a full-time fighter and full-time dad.
"I spend a lot of time with my family," he said. His 7-year-old son Jace wrestles and plays baseball. His 5-year-old daughter Jadyn played softball this summer but has her eye on soccer and gymnastics now. His 7-month-old daughter Jordyn has a little time before picking out which sport dad gets to help coach. He is involved with all activities.
Keep track of Roller via his twitter @shaneroller or on Facebook. He will engage unless of course he is pounding another foe in the Octagon or coaching a little league team near you.
The build up to September 21 continues. So far main events and co-main events have been announced for the dueling promotions vying for your fight dollar.
King of the Cage is relying on Josh Bryant headlining at the River Spirit Event Center. He takes on KOTC Middleweight Champion Sean Strickland. Also on the card is former TU defensive end and MMA prospect Kinny Spotwood.
Meanwhile across town inside The Joint, Xtreme Fight Night 9 brings another special guest for the ages. Randy Couture not only helped usher in MMA to mainstream, he is now a movie star featured in Expendables 2. He is a true ambassador for the sport.
The main event features former UFC fighters Jake Rosholt and Anthony "Rumble" Johnson in a light heavyweight clash. The winner is one step closer to a UFC call-up while the loser is pushed to the brink.
The co-main event features a rematch for the XFL welterweight title. Levi Avera bested Dillon Smith in a back-and-forth tilt earlier this year. Smith seeks redemption while Avera hopes to put the final stamp on this feud.
Decision, decision and hopefully a few knockouts and submissions.
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