Shane Roller Planning To “Bring Fireworks” Against Michael Johnson
By Kelsey Mowatt
When Shane Roller arrived in the UFC last March, it didn’t take long for the WEC vet to make his presence felt in the Octagon, as the decorated wrestler knocked out accomplished lightweight Thiago Tavares at UFC Live 3. Since then, however, Roller has incurred defeats at the hands of Melvin Guillard and TJ Grant, adding that much more significance to this Saturday’s bout with former TUF competitor Michael Johnson.
“I think every fight is the most pivotal one up to this point in your career,” said Roller (10-5), while discussing the importance of his upcoming UFC on FOX bout with Johnson. “So every time I get out there it’s real important. This is the first time that I’ve ever lost two in a row and I’m ready to come out there and bring fireworks, an exciting show, and do what I got to do to get my hand raised. For sure it’s a very pivotal fight for me and my career.”
Johnson (9-6) will also be looking to return to the win column, as the 25 year-old-fighter is coming off a first round, submission loss to the jiu-jitsu stylist, Paul Sass. Since advancing and losing by decision to Jonathon Brookins in the finals of TUF 12, Johnson has now gone 1-1.
“It doesn’t interest me at all,” said the 32 year-old Roller, when asked if he cares about the fact that Johnson might be a familiar name with UFC fans, due to his recent success on TUF. “The UFC will give me the fights that I need to get to the top ranked guys…I need to get some wins, get my hand raised and he’s a tough fighter. I take the same approach to every fight. I just need to get out there and get back on the winning track.”
While Johnson has demonstrated effective wrestling abilities since his run on TUF and afterwards, in Roller, he will be facing a three-time All American wrestler from Oklahoma State University.
“I believe so. I think any fighter should feel that way,” said Roller, in response to whether he feels confident that he’ll be able to dictate whether the fight remains on its feet. “You have to be confident when you step in the cage and I feel really confident in my wrestling and where I can take the fight.”
“I love to stand-up though,” Roller added. “I think I’ve really improved in my stand-up and every fight I’ve had, I think I’ve hit someone at least once where I could feel that I hurt them. I just need to follow up with some combinations. I’m still kind of new to the sport, been in it about three or four years, so I just need to keep adding and make it all work for me.”
While Roller clearly understands the importance of his next fight, and the need to end a two fight losing streak, his loss to Grant in October did include some controversy. Although Roller protested the stoppage at the time, due to the fact he never physically tapped out to the armbar, the fighter has chalked it up as a learning experience.
“I don’t blame anybody for losing, and no excuses at all, but I didn’t tap,” Roller told FCF. “I know how to get out of a fight if I need to get out of a fight. You can tap, or verbally say something to tap, which I didn’t do. He had my arm locked up pretty good, but I felt like I was still in the process of getting out. I did grunt. I remember letting out a quick grunt and the ref stopped it….I guess you shouldn’t get in those situations and that won’t happen. It’s nobody’s blame but my own.”
Roller continues to train under the oversight of Team Takedown, which also includes fellow wrestler Johny Hendricks, who is coming off an electrifying 12 second knockout of perennial welterweight contender, Jon Fitch.
“It was huge. It was a great thing not only for Johny but for our management company too,” said Roller, who accepted the bout with Johnson earlier in January, after Cody McKenzie was forced to withdraw from the bout due to injury. “It was what we needed. We needed one of us jumping up there in one of our divisions and I think Johny did that by knocking out Fitch.”
Photo via fighters.com