Introducing Roger Hollett

By Andy Cotterill Jun 22, 2007
There's a lot of buzz that surrounds Roger Hollett (Pictures) in the Canadian mixed martial arts scene. He's undefeated. He's built like a tank. His father was a Canadian boxing and kickboxing champion. And he's fighting this weekend.

The 28-year-old Nova Scotian battles Shane Biever at Maximum Fighting Championships' "High Stakes" tonight in Edmonton, Alberta for a shot at Victor Valimaki (Pictures)'s light heavyweight title.

So why is there so much talk about a guy with just a handful of pro fights to his name?

Maybe it's the way in which he's mowed through his opponents; in five bouts, the longest contest ended in less than four minutes.

Pedigree doesn't hurt either, and Hollett has a pretty good one. His father Ralph "The Heat" Hollett is formerly a middleweight boxing champion of Canada. He has one sister and two brothers, and he told that as soon as they could get gloves on their hands they were learning to fight.

"Growing up around it, it was normal," he said. "You see your father on TV -- obviously you're going to want to mimic him."

But that was just fun. When he was a little older he says he was put into karate, mostly for discipline and exercise. When asked if he needed discipline, a big smile spread across his face and he laughed.

"Probably. I can imagine I did," he said.

After that Hollett tried a little boxing, and when he was 19 he made a short trip that turned into the long road he's still on now. He went to Titans, a local Halifax jiu-jitsu club where he met Peter Martell and Kevin Taylor, both now Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belts under Renzo Gracie (Pictures).

"When I first met him he was a boxer, and a pretty good boxer -- lots of power -- and like everybody he learned the hard way that there is something to a ground game," Martell said. "But unlike everybody he was smart enough to open up and say that he wanted to learn this stuff."

Added Taylor: "You knew he had that natural talent. He was one of those guys."

Although Hollett's official belt in BJJ is blue, Taylor figures that he's actually at a brown belt level. This is plausible considering that four of Hollett's wins have come via submission, and Martell confided that sometimes the two of them can roll for 20 or 30 minutes without subbing each other.

In addition to what Hollett is learning from Martell and Taylor, he's also got the services of former world Muay Thai champion Rob Walker, which is probably a good thing considering that he loves to trade punches.

"I enjoy standing and banging," he said. "I can read guys."

Despite his accomplishments, Hollett is very humble about his abilities, and seemed genuinely bashful when asked about his strengths. All that could be dragged out of him was that he sees room for improvement.

"I pick myself apart when I'm training," he said, "so I could never say, ‘Oh yeah, I'm the best' because I'm always trying to improve myself."

Yet Hollett did concede his conditioning "is pretty intense."

This weekend's fight will be Hollett's second foray in the MFC. In Feb. he knocked out Mike Maurer of the Canadian Football League's Edmonton Eskimos in 36 seconds flat.

His opponent for Friday has gone through several incarnations, as first Jason Day decided to drop to middleweight, then Floyd Sword dropped out so that he could meet Thales Leites (Pictures) on The Ultimate Fighter 5 finale on Saturday, and finally American Top Team's Tom Lawlor injured his ankle.

So his opponent ultimately will be Biever, who hasn't been too terribly successful in MMA. For the past several years, Biever has pursued a pro boxing career and has a record of 4-1. Yet Hollett said that he'll have his hands full and isn't taking a win for granted.

Said Hollett about Biever: "He's probably going to come in pretty hungry because if he beats me he'll be the No. 1 contender.

"This guy's a brawler, which I like to do, so we'll see."

So what happens if -- or when you ask Martell "when" -- Hollett wins this weekend?

His next bout will likely be in his hometown for Extreme Cage Combat in Sept., and perhaps soon after that, another MFC match -- this time versus UFC veteran Victor Valimaki (Pictures).

Sherdog asked Hollett if he would beat Valimaki, but again he demurred, saying he considers Valimaki the top light heavyweight in the country and that he's only thinking about one fight at a time.

But Martell wasn't so shy: "I think Roger will beat him. I hate to say that because Victor is a great guy, but I have faith in Roger's ability. I wouldn't want to be Victor -- I wouldn't want to be anybody fighting Roger is how I look at it."

"If they beat him, my hat's off to them," he concluded.

Come the end of tonight, we'll find out if Martell will be tipping his hat to Biever.
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