For Team Takedown member Shane Roller it's all about helping his teammates out. Training with a group of wrestler's day in and day out offers him a sense of comfort and keeps his skills sharp. They all share in one another's joy when they win and pain when they lose. That is what being part of a team is all about.
Roller is all set to face The Ultimate Fighter season 12 finalist Michael Johnson this Saturday night as the UFC presents UFC on Fox: Evans vs. Davis. This is the first card under the deal with Fox, but in actuality it's the second show behind last November's one fight telecast that saw Junior Dos Santos defeat Cain Velasquez for the UFC Heavyweight title.
Roller knows there are no guarantees in this business and anything can and probably will happen once that cage door closes. You don't have to look any further than Johny Hendricks 12 second knockout of perennial welterweight contender Jon Fitch at UFC 141. To call it an upset would be putting it mildly unless you train with Hendricks all the time.
Both men attended Oklahoma State University and Roller was a coach when Hendricks was busy winning two NCAA Division I wrestling titles. In fact two other Team Takedown members, Jake and Josh Rosholt attended OSU as well. The bond is strong as one can imagine.
"We're like a close knit family," Roller explained. "We've all known each other for some time now. It's good to have a team that wants to see everyone achieve their goals and where everyone looks out for one another. We love to see each other have success; we feel as though we are all apart of one others success. We help prepare one another for all of our fights. Watching Johnny win his fight against Fitch gave me an overwhelming sense of pride."
A lot of wrestlers depend solely on their grappling skills going into a fight. These days with everyone training in all facets of MMA equally, wrestlers need to sharpen their skills in all of the other areas. Roller knows this all too well and is willing to do whatever it takes to improve his overall ability.
"I'm getting better every year, I lost my last two and have had some setbacks," offered Roller. "I do feel like I'm growing as a fighter and I feel like I am getting better at all positions. I am trying to blend my standup with my wrestling and my Jiu-Jitsu. I definitely feel like I'm getting better each fight. I feel as though my standup could get a lot better so I am concentrating on that more and more."
Having lost his last two fights Roller finds his UFC record at 1-2. Before the WEC was merged into the UFC he had an impressive 6-2 record with wins over Jamie Varner, Anthony Njokuani, Danny Castillo and Marcus Hicks. He began his UFC career with a win over Thiago Tavares in a bout that earned him Knockout of the Night, but subsequently lost to Melvin Guillard and TJ Grant. Roller knows its do or die for him as the UFC doesn't normally hold onto fighters with three losses in a row.
"I take the approach that every fight is a must win," said Roller. "I know what's on the line and I have to do whatever it takes to get my hand raised. I know I have a big advantage over Johnson when it comes to submissions and grappling. Wrestling is my biggest attribute and he is mostly known for his boxing so it would be in my best interest to get this fight to the ground. He has some power in his hands and he has a good standup game."
Johnson was originally scheduled to face Cody McKenzie, but Roller stepped in after an injury caused McKenzie to bow out of the contest. Taking a fight on short notice is never in a fighters best interests, but they make due with the circumstances they are given. Roller has no qualms about taking this fight a few weeks before it was scheduled to take place. In fact he is very confident things will go his way.
"To be honest this is the first time I've ever taken a fight on short notice," explained Roller. "I've always had a full camp to train and get ready, but rest assured I'll be prepared. I'm trying to take it to the next level and in order to do so I have to make sure I'm prepared. I'm cramming in as much as possible where as if I had 6 to 8 weeks I could take things a bit slower. I think my hand will get raised, I'm thinking I'll take him down with a submission. Like I said I have a big advantage in that area and I plan on using it."
To follow Shane Roller and his teammates at Team Takedown you can visit their website by clicking here. Shane would also like to thank Echo Unlimited for supporting him throughout his MMA career.
Get more great MMA news and analysis over at Fightline.