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Exclusive: Roli Delgado Talks TUF 8

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The Ultimate Fighter’s Rolando Delgado got his moment in the spotlight on last night’s show, taking on Junie Browning in a three-round split decision loss. In this exclusive Cage Potato interview, Delgado tells us what it was like to battle Lexington, Kentucky’s most outspoken representative, weighs in on Frank Mir and “Minotauro” Nogueira, and gives us a glimpse of what’s to come.

Now that you’ve seen the show and your fight, what are your thoughts?

Man, it’s painful to watch Frank Mir try and call me out on the show. I was definitely not looking forward to that, more than any other part of the show. Overall I thought it was a good show, it made for good TV. The fight was a fun fight. I definitely could have done better and Junie could have done better. You always have a lot of regrets when you don’t fight to your full potential. But overall it was a good experience.

So what’s the story with the black belt? How did that come up and how did it get to be such an issue? They just didn’t believe you really had a black belt?

Yeah, but I want to note that these were all guys who weren’t training with me. These were all blue team guys. I never trained with any of them. They didn’t interview anyone from my team. It was a little nerve-wracking. I’m not used to people questioning my integrity like that. It’s one thing if you say, ‘I don’t think you’re a good black belt.’ That’s a matter of opinion. But to say that I don’t have one, I thought that was very disrespectful.

Luckily I actually taped my black belt testing and it’s on Google Videos, so you can see it for yourself. I’m not someone who makes up stories and it’s not like I’ve just popped up on the scene. I’ve competed at every level. I competed as a blue belt in the late nineties, I did it as a purple belt, did it as a brown belt. I’ve done no-gi tournaments since I’ve gotten my black belt. I won NAGA twice. It’s not like I just popped on the scene.

Seeing Frank Mir question you and seeing him tell Junie to take you out, it kind of seemed like Frank had it out for you or thought you didn’t belong there. What did you make of that?

I don’t know what to make of it. I don’t know how I ended up on Frank Mir’s radar like that. He kind of has a weird personality. Maybe he’s really a good guy and he just came off wrong. I don’t think that’s the case, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Apparently he judged me wrong because he took his number one pick and put him against the last pick and it ended up being a split decision, which wasn’t what he was expecting.

Now that you’ve watched the fight again, if you had it to do over what would you do differently?

I probably would have gone forward more, tried to work in the clinch more. I think in the clinch I could have worked my muay thai. I would have had a better chance of taking him down with an upper body throw or inside trip or something. Just trying to shoot and get underneath him was tough. But you get so many conflicting game plans. Some people tell you to stay behind the jab or to move laterally or get it to the ground. It’s hard to do so many different things.

What did you feel like you got out of being on Nogueira’s team and having guys like Anderson Silva come in and work with you?

Oh, it was amazing. It was everything you think it would be. Nogueira’s an amazing coach and an amazing person. He really showed me what it meant to train like a champion. He’s an incredible role model. The training was amazing and that’s what I wanted to be on the show for. I didn’t just want to be on TV. It was by far the most influential experience on my martial arts career.

You mentioned during last night’s episode that you have a gym and rental property and you made it sound like this wasn’t a make-or-break thing for you to get into the UFC like it was for guys like Junie. Is that accurate, and if so, why go on the show?

Well, financially it’s not a make-or-break thing for me, but if you know what low-level pro fighters make, you know it’s not a financial thing for anybody. I was making $500 a fight. I fought Jason Ireland through overtime for $200 a few years ago. I don’t fight for the money. I was just making that point that I’m an established adult and Junie Browning is a child. That’s where I’m coming from. I’ve accomplished more in my short time on this earth than that guy is going to accomplish in his whole life. I was just trying to respond why I wouldn’t respond to his antics. But it didn’t take away from my will to win, just because I don’t absolutely need that money from fighting.

Do you see the UFC in your future?

I don’t know. I’m really more comfortable fighting at 145, to be honest with you. So I’d probably be better off fighting somewhere like the WEC. Whether they’ll take me now or whether I need to go get a few more wins, I don’t know. But I was happy to get the opportunity at 155. I’m just not a big-framed person and I don’t have the power to be at 155. Apparently I don’t have the striking for it right now, either.

So now that the show’s over, what do you think of Junie?

Here’s the deal, everybody hates Junie. Everyone talks all this trash about him and they think he’s just this big asshole. Well, Junie did a lot of things wrong on the show, but they’re not showing everything that happened.

There were plenty of times when Junie was a nice guy and plenty of times when he was friendly. I think he has a good heart and he’s a good kid, I just think he’s young. He needs a little direction in life and he needs better people to surround himself with. I don’t know if Lexington, Kentucky has those types of people, but I was fortunate enough that when I was coming up all the guys I looked up to were professionals in life and in the cage.

That’s how I tried to build myself and I think that’s what Junie needs. He’s a good person and he just needs a little help. He may need to be medicated. And I’m not saying they’re not accurately portraying him, but they could show some other sides to him that we saw. You saw him after our fight being a little more modest, and I was glad to see that.

It seems like the show has really revolved around him to a great extent so far, does that get tiresome for you to watch?

No, I knew I wouldn’t be on the show a whole lot. You’re going to see some of the crazy stuff that happens this season, and it was stuff that there’s no way I’m going to do, especially with a camera and two million people watching. There was a lot of craziness that I’m a little too old for. I didn’t expect to see myself on the show a lot.

To see a lot of Junie, I don’t care. I lived it and that was the most exciting stuff going on was him going off the deep end. Without him in the show they’d be searching for some other kind of drama. It doesn’t bother me like it bothers some other people. But all that stuff, that crazy stuff, it really happened, so it makes sense that it’s going to be on TV.

Everyone I’ve talked to says that house has a way of driving you crazy. Did you not feel that?

Well, the house does make you crazy but that’s just a cop-out for people’s mistakes to say that the house made them do things. Everybody’s an adult and you do what you’re going to do. If you’re going to get drunk and act like a fool, that’s on you. Especially if you get drunk before you have your fight. Once you’re done fighting if you want to get drunk, I can understand that. You have nothing left to do. But it’s not the house that makes you do it.

Living it is different than watching it. You go from training one way to training a different way and that affects some people, they leave the house in worse shape than they came in. The house part of it is tough, but it’s not going to make you do something you wouldn’t do.

Do you think you left the show as a better fighter for the experience?

Without a doubt. I left the show as a better fighter and a better coach. Just a better martial artist in general. I had a lot of great training partners. John Polakowski is a phenomenal striker and I got to work with him a lot. Philiipe Nover has some great jiu-jitsu and great stand-up. Efrain is a top-level wrestler and he used to take me down all the time. And of course you have the coaches. I learned a ton and I’m really looking forward to taking that and applying it to my career.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Yeah, if you don’t mind, I have a gym in Little Rock, Arkansas called West Side MMA. I’ve also got a heavyweight who’s a big up-and-comer and he’s just a beast and his name is Mike Wessel, and I just want people to be looking out for him. He’s already having trouble finding fights and I just wanted to plug him.

Cagepotato Comments

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Deez Nizzles- October 26, 2008 at 7:03 pm
Anybody who watched the fight knows Junie could've finished him in the second round. When they were on the ground. You can clearly hear Mir tell him to let him up. Junie should've finished him but he chose to punish him. Which left him gassed all to hell, but he still one. Honestly Junie makes the show more interesting to watcy. Any publicity is good publicity! Just my 2 cents
jai- October 24, 2008 at 10:02 pm
i'm not saying the clip wasn't wachy, but it does say gracie barra on the walls.
Anonymous- October 24, 2008 at 10:02 pm
i'm not saying the clip wasn't wachy, but it does say gracie barra on the walls.
KTFO- October 24, 2008 at 9:28 am
Rumor has it Roli's punches feel sort of like butterfly kisses, only not as violent.
ithertz- October 24, 2008 at 1:39 am
didn't frank mir say he got his black belt by beating tim sylvia? what kind of test is that? was he joking?
Blackleg- October 23, 2008 at 3:34 pm
It's a credibility issue dummies. I don't put anymore stock into what shade of belt a guy has anymore than I'd try to equate wrestling expertise to how fucked up a guy's ears are.
Black Belts 101- October 23, 2008 at 3:08 pm
This is so funny.

People are all up in arms about whether the guy is a 'Real' Black belt. What does that even mean? In American Judo someone can become a 'real' Shodan in about 2 years of training 2 nights a week by demontrating a bunch of throws, a few hold downs and submissions on a willing opponent.

BJJ in Brazil someone that's studied ten years or more and is world class can be a purple belt or a brown belt. Black belts are not, and never will be a measure of someone's martial arts ability. Tournament and match victories are the best and only real measure of that.

Black belt ranks especially about about 3 to 4 dan are mostly political and given for things like lifetime contributions to popularizing the art. So there is your 101 lesson on the meaning of a black belt. Now leave this poor guy alone about it. He's probably done as much to deserve his BB as most American black belts.

If not it isn't like its a credential worth the effort of faking anyhow.
Me- October 23, 2008 at 2:34 pm
Could have worked his Muay Thai skills in the clinch? For real? I'd prefer to believe he invented BJJ before ever believing he has any Muay Thai skills. No offense.
Jay Smith- October 23, 2008 at 12:29 pm
Get off this dudes back. He seems geniune. There's no doubt in my mind that he has more training than most of you posting (including myself). He's been to Brazil to train. We're sitting on our asses posting on this website. Congrats Roli, and good luck. Shake the haters off Roli.
Blackleg- October 23, 2008 at 12:22 pm
Awesome, Roli makes himself out to be even more of a douche with this interview than he did with the show. Looks like the kid is just a lot of smoke. He's the guy at the party telling people he was a fighter pilot, then when you corner him on it he says 'Well I rode in a hot-air balloon once.' What a joke.

hahah WEC? Sure, with his obviously 'world-class' skills he could crush Faber's soul 15 seconds into the first round.
C-Bus Allstar- October 23, 2008 at 12:05 pm
The guy's got a blackbelt from a small gym in Arkansas, of course it's not got the weight behind it that a Gracie Black Belt does, but it is a blackbelt none-the-less.. the thing about Delgado is he's not built for 155'ers.. not at ALL.. he's a 145 guy and would probably have a pretty good career as a Featherweight..
Anonymous- October 23, 2008 at 11:17 am
BJ- October 23, 2008 at 10:37 am
Olie- October 23, 2008 at 9:05 am
The fight was a pretty close run thing and IMO Junie should be embarrassed.

Delgado is a BJJ ground game submission artist. He isn't built to stand and slug it out and Junie to his credit kept Delgado where he wanted him - on his feet to exchange. That IS Junie's game. If it went to ground then I have no doubt especially in the closing stages that Delgado would have made Junie tap in seconds.

Junie running his mouth off and then gets taken all the way by someone who didn't get into the house legitimately and isn't even a stand-up guy! I mean FFS Delgado had never used a speed ball before!

I don't know why Delgado didn't try to take Junie down to be honest, should have made some better shoots for his legs but hey like Delgado says, he knows he could have performed much better - not in terms of stand up but in terms of trying to get Junie to play his game, not the other way around.

Junie is jumped up and over hyped.
Deadpanda- October 23, 2008 at 7:57 am
So if I land a flailing up kick I can have a black belt too?
Markdog- October 23, 2008 at 6:20 am
NAGA, the land of broken bones and torn ligaments.
Markdog- October 23, 2008 at 6:10 am
Has anyone seen the 2nd part of the video?
Seth- October 23, 2008 at 4:23 am
roli got owned by cagepotato fam
Deadpanda- October 23, 2008 at 3:11 am
Considering I only train judo & muay thai, I can't say I know a whole lot about BJJ...

But I was laughing my ass off at Roli getting tooled around in that video. All he did was get sweeped a bunch of times while getting punched in the head & chest. So it's safe to say he went to Brazil for a training clinic, but... I don't see how that qualifies him as a black belt.

On a side note, he seems like a very hard working & rational guy and I think that he handled himself very well on the show; it's ruff to get dogged like that & hold composure like he did.
ikcedar- October 23, 2008 at 3:03 am
thats his black belt video? what a joke. trainer must be color blind
ikcedar- October 23, 2008 at 3:02 am
thats his black belt video? what a joke.
Nate- October 23, 2008 at 1:53 am
His BJJ video is a joke. We have white belts at my gym with better skills. No one does a Black Belt test without the gi with guys boxing you. He's full of shit.
homy- October 23, 2008 at 1:24 am
Junies a douche bag with drinking and anger issues. Roli the weakest link not only made it out of the first round he took that dumb redneck to a questionable spilt decision. I am more impressed with Roli and to not expect Junie to amount to much in the MMA universe.
Mirjitsu- October 23, 2008 at 12:34 am
Also....this damn popup everytime I click on a link on cagepotato is annoying as HELL!
Mirjitsu- October 23, 2008 at 12:33 am
In ironic fashion..when I went to watch his Blackbelt testing video.. it said.. "This video is not available". HAHAHAHAHA. just thought that was funny.