(Rolles Gracie vs. Sam Holloway, 9/20/07)
A quick look at the four fresh talents who will be hunting for success in the Eight-Sided Shape on Saturday night…
PHIL DAVIS (LHW)
Experience: 4-0 record (3 wins by first-round stoppage) in various regional leagues. Last competed in June ’09, choking out David Baggett at a UCFC event in Pittsburgh.
Will be fighting: Brian Stann (8-2, 2-1 UFC)
Lowdown: They call him "Mr. Wonderful." A four-time All-American and 2008 Division I National Wrestling Champion for Penn State, Davis began his MMA education with Greg Jackson before moving to San Diego, where he now works out with Brandon Vera at the Alliance Training Center. His fighting mentality was instilled in him from an early age, as he had to scrap with his two older brothers for two available seats at their family’s dinner table. By the age of 12, Davis was “eating dinner almost every night.” [Ed. note: Wow, that's kind of fucked up.] Davis thinks it’s pretty cool that Brian Boitano gets roses thrown at him after his performances, and would like that to happen for him someday.
RONNYS TORRES (LW)
Experience: 14-1 record (12 wins by stoppage), with all fights taking place in Brazilian leagues including Shooto Brazil and Jungle Fight.
Will be fighting: Melvin Guillard (22-8-1 with 1 no-contest, 5-4 UFC)
Lowdown: Due to a series of injuries, Torres has been out of action since September 2008, when he scored a first-round submission over Eliene Silva at Jungle Fight 11; Torres was originally supposed to face Guillard last April. The Nova Uniao prospect with the oddly-pluralized first name has had to cut over 30 pounds to make the lightweight limit. He plans on making his cage-entrance to gospel music. "It is step by step that I will arrive to the top," Torres says. "I only ask that God illuminates me."
ROLLES GRACIE (HW)
Experience: 3-0 record (all wins by first-round submission), with appearances in the IFL and China’s Art of War promotion.
Will be fighting: Joey Beltran (see below)
Lowdown: The first Gracie to compete inside the Octagon since Royce (Rolles’s second cousin), this 31-year-old up-and-comer has a lot of expectations to live up to — and judging from his grappling credentials, which include three Pan American jiu-jitsu titles, Rolles should do just fine in the promotion that his family built. But make no mistake, Rolles represents a new generation of Gracie fighter. As he told UFC Magazine: "I’m not going to walk into this holding on to the things that happened two decades ago. If I had that line of thinking, I’d get crushed…With the training I do, I can show it all. That includes the striking, the footwork, and the wrestling. People can have their doubts, but believe me, they’re in for a big surprise." Rolles does most of his training at his cousin Renzo’s gym in New York, but he has also spent time expanding his MMA toolkit at Greg Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque.
JOEY BELTRAN (HW)
Experience: 10-3 record (9 wins by TKO) with appearances in Strikeforce, King of the Cage, and Bellator. Last competed three weeks ago, scoring a second-round stoppage over Houston Alexander at a 5150 Combat League event in Tulsa.
Will be fighting: Rolles Gracie
Lowdown: Nicknamed "The Mexicutioner," Beltran comes in as a late replacement for Mostapha Al-Turk, who was scratched from the card earlier this week due to visa issues. As Beltran writes on his website: "I would say my biggest strength is my willingness to stand and bang no matter who is front of me. I would definitely say I’m a scrapper with a strong wrestling base. I definately have worked to clean up my technique and my Jiu Jitsu is coming along. But as soon as I get hit in the face, it is no longer a sport. It is personal. And I am going to try to break someones face!" Also, he cries every time he watches the movie Rudy. Beltran trains at The Compound in Oceanside, California. Two excerpts from this Triumph United interview are worth sharing…
On his spotty background: "The big thing for us back then was breaking into cars, stealing stereo systems, if we were lucky someone woulda left behind their purse or wallet too. The one time it got real hairy, my one homie who I was doing it with, went around the corner to get into a car, and I started hearing all this rustling and banging up against the parking lot fence. I came running around the corner and saw this dude with a gun, the metal flashing in front of my face. It all happened within a split second, but I just reacted and ‘BOOM’, I hit him, and all I can remember is the ding, ding, ding sound of the metal gun clanging around on the ground after he dropped. I remember taking off, hoping a fence and running into these bushes by a school in my neighborhood. I just broke down and started crying, asking myself what the fuck I was doing with my life."
On his first exposure to MMA: "I remember like it was yesterday, watching the first UFC in my bedroom with my brother-in-law and thinking, ‘This is what I wanna do. I wanna beat people up for money.’ Watching that big Samoan guy getting his teeth knocked out was pretty cool."