Shane Roller is perhaps the most well prepared fighter to make the transition into the UFC. As a three-time All-American at Oaklahoma State in college, Roller has perhaps the best base for a mixed martial artist.
His opponent on Thursday, Thiago Tavares, is a UFC veteran of nine fights, an advantage some may think would be fatal for a UFC newcomer. For Shane Roller, being in a situation with a lot of pressure is natural, something instilled into his DNA from being in amateur wrestling since he was four-years-old.
"I had three older brothers. I started wrestling when I was four-years-old, and I had a lot of success early on. My three older brothers, they were always showing me stuff on the living room floor, just teaching me wrestling moves. I can attribute my success to them."
The common worst enemy of BJJ practitioners are good wrestlers, especially ones with good submission defense. Roller has they type of well rounded skil set that allows him to be overpowering anywhere the fight goes, and he knows it.
"My wrestling, I think, is my biggest strength going into this fight. I feel good with my stand-up, and I'm very confident in my submission game."
Speaking of submissions, Roller has shown that he is as good at submitting opponents as he is at overpowering them with his wrestling.
"I like getting people's backs, you know, it's a dominant position and I'm always looking for ways to use my jiu-jitsu and wrestling, I'm looking to take the back or get mount. That's just where I've been ending up. Once I end up on someone's back, I look for the rear-naked choke. I've just been fortunate enough to get to that position to get the rear-naked choke."
As good as he is at submissions, Roller knows that he can win fights in different ways, and his record shows it, with two KO wins as opposed to only one fight going the distance. Despite his UFC experience disadvantage, Roller has an advantage in opponents faced.
In fights against past WEC champs, Roller is 1-2, with one fight going down to the wire before getting submitted against Anthony Pettis, another where he got TKO'd by Ben Henderson and yet another where he submitted Jamie Varner. Despite the losses to top-five fighters, Roller knows exactly who he wants to fight.
"I'm not going to call anybody out, but if you were to ask me who I want to fight in the top-10, it would definitely be whoever has the belt. That's where I want to be. That's why I got in the sport, I wanted to prove to people that I could become the best, and I won't be satisfied until I get there. That's where my eyes are. People have asked me if I want to call out Ben Henderson, but that's not me. If they match me up with him, great, but I'm not calling anybody out."
With this no nonsense approach he has to the game, it's no wonder that Roller has had as much success in the sport. At 31-years-old, with a 9-3 record in the sport with three fights against former champs, Roller has everything he needs to advance upward.
With such a great stable of fighters that he works with, as well as the experience given to him through countless hours of pounding wrestling mats, Shane Roller has the desire, the confidence and the ability to have a great 2011 campaign, and eventually, fight for the title.
"I'm just looking to get some wins, and get on track to hopefully eventually fight for the title."