I Have a Dream:
Roland “Doomster” Sarria Interview
By Michael Onzuka – Mike@onzuka.com
With the mixed martial arts movement gaining approval from boxing commissions and the general public, promoting fights has been and will continue to be big business. It seems as though American events other than the UFC are slowly climbing the ladder to gain popularity to match Japanese events. Each territory has its big name. Hawaii has T. Jay Thompson, California has Terry Trebilcock, the East Coast has Jamie Levine, the Midwest has Monte Cox, and Roland “Doomster” Sarria is becoming or may already be the man in Arizona. Coming from an athletic background and moving on to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Sarria is also an accomplished instructor who is breeding fighters by the truckload, mainly to fight in his events. He run events monthly so not only his fighters, but the fighters in the vicinity have a venue to stay busy and get experienced. Sarria is trying a different approach in order to spice up mixed martial arts events by bringing more entertainment aspects to his shows. While in Arizona, I stopped by to talk to Doomster at his BRAUSA [short for Brazil USA] Academy shortly before his March RITC event.
FCF: First, let’s start off on how you got the name “Doomster”…
Roland Sarria: Maybe about seven years ago I was training at the Rickson Gracie Academy and I came from a football background…I really didn’t know much about the martial arts and I guess you could say that I was blessed with a lot of physical strength and I had a tendency to lift people up and drop them thinking I was playing football, and then some guy just goes, “Whoa, you doomed that guy,” and ever since then, I just kept that name. That’s how it happened.
FCF: How long did you train with Rickson?
RS: I started with Rickson in ’94…the summer of ’94, right when he came back from his Vale-Tudo [in Japan]. I was with him roughly about a year and a half.
FCF: At what belt ranking did you leave?
RS: I was blue belt when I left in…I want to say ’95, and I moved to Orange County and I trained with Rodrigo Gracie, Ken Gabrielson, and John Lober and that’s where I was promoted to purple and brown. In the last four and a half years, I’ve been here in this state [Arizona] by myself. I guess I did the biggest no-no you can do in martial arts, I pretty much self promoted myself and I competed recently against David Meyers from the Machados in a black belt super fight and I tied him, but I lost on an advantage point. Since that tournament, I have been approached by half a dozen black belts–pretty well known black belts–that have been wanting to promote me to black belt, but unfortunately I just decided to stay to myself. That’s the route I’m taking as far as belt system, as far as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
FCF: Why not go with someone who could legitimize your black belt?
RS: It’s pretty personal, but I think it stems back to when I was competing as a brown belt. I felt like I was…you could say set up each tournament going against Margarida Pontes and Roger Ruiz, I can’t remember the rest of the names and I always came in about 170 pounds. I walk around about 200 pounds. I feel like I was always ambushed with these tournaments and all they had to be is up front with me. I’ll go in at 195 against Margarida anytime, but don’t tell me he’s 170. Just little things like that and I think the reason I decided to stay by myself is because I think the only reason a black belt would want to promote me maybe because of my reputation as a promoter, not really because of my skill and I think it revolves around money and I’m not in a position to let a so called famous black belt promote me because to be honest with you, for the last four and a half years, I pretty much trained on my own. Why should I go under a black belt when he never really taught me anything? That’s how I look at it. That’s my attitude.
FCF: How are you gaining in technique and skill since you are by yourself?
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