Roger Hollett Says Returning to UFC 152 Line-Up “Greatest News Ever,” Plans to Test “Granite Chin” of Matt Hamill
By Kelsey Mowatt
It’s come with more drama and frustration than he would have liked, but at the end of the day, Roger Hollett is back on track to make his Octagon debut at UFC 152. In what’s turned out to be an odd series of events, Hollett has been confirmed, replaced and then re-confirmed for a September 22nd bout with Matt Hamill.
“It’s been nothing short of a roller coaster I tell you that,” Hollett said, who left his native Nova Scotia several weeks ago to go train with Jackson’s MMA in New Mexico, after it was announced he would fight Hamill. “I was just two days away from going back home, going to back to work, and try to figure out what I was going to do. It was the greatest news ever that I got today.”
Hollett had of course been set to return back to Canada, due to the fact that he had been replaced by Vladimir Matyushenko for the UFC 152 bout with Hamill. When the switch was initially announced, it was reported by some media outlets that an injury to Hollett was the reason for his removal.
“I have no idea where the injury rumor started, but I was never injured,” said Hollett, who competed for Bellator last November and earned a split decision win over John Hawk. “It was a contract dispute with Bellator. They have a clause in my contract that they could match any of my next offers.”
According to Hollett, due to delays with the aforementioned clause, the UFC was forced to move Matyushenko into the bout with Hamill. Although Hollett eventually was cleared for the fight, it wasn’t until Tuesday’s announcement that Matyushenko had been injured, that “The Hulk” knew his Octagon debut was back on.
“As soon as I got the fight from the UFC I flew right down here,” said Hollett, who has been traveling south to train with the renowned Jackson’s team for several years now. “I had started training, getting ready for it, and then we got a call from Bellator, saying they had the right to match…it was quite a bit of chaos.”
After scoring a win in his Bellator debut, many believed Hollett would be tapped for one of the promotion’s light-heavyweight tourneys. This past spring, however, Hollett was prevented from fighting UFC vet Jeremy Horn at a Extreme Cage Combat card in Halifax, due to concerns over a pre-fight EKG.
Although further testing demonstrated that the fighter was fine, Hollett’s immediate MMA future remained in doubt. That is, of course, until he was signed by the UFC.
“It feels great; this is something I’ve been dreaming of doing for my whole career,” said Hollett, who will make his Octagon debut having won five straight fights. “It was a wish of my father as well, before he passed three months ago, so, it would have been great if had been here to see it, but, he was pretty sick.”
Not only will Hollett (13-3) compete on the main card in his first UFC event, but he will do so against accomplished veteran Matt Hamill. The decorated wrestler will also have plenty riding on the tilt, due to the fact it will mark Hamill’s (10-4) return from a year plus retirement.
“He’s obviously not a can, so it’s a big step up for me and it’s going to be time to show what I can do,” said Hollett, who has scored stoppage wins over noted Canadian fighters like Victor Valimaki and Martin Desilets. “He’s no slouch. He’s got a chin of granite but I plan to test it.”
“Of course we’re getting ready for a wrestler,” added Hollett, while discussing Hamill’s skillset. “It is what it is. We have great wrestling here, and there’s a lot of great guys down here helping Jon (Jones) out.”
UFC 152 will be hosted by Toronto, Ontario’s Air Canada Centre and will feature light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones taking on Vitor Belfort in the main event.