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TUF 8’s Roli Delgado: Frank Mir was a little immature

Lightweight competitor Rolando Delgado from the eighth installment of The Ultimate Fighter can’t buy a break thus far into the season. After catching flack for gaining admission into the TUF mansion as a result of a broken nose sustained by Brian McLaughlin, Delgado once again found himself in the line of fire after former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir decided to put him on the stand and cross-examine him regarding his credentials as a black belt.

The editors of the show didn’t exactly do any favors for Delgado in regards to how they presented his explanation, so we eager to get his side of the story during an exclusive one-on-one interview with

In addition to getting his response to Mir’s line of questioning, Delgado also shared his thoughts on Junie Browning’s decision to spit on a black belt; what it was like fighting Browning, whether he was intimidated prior to the fight; and more.

Sam Caplan: During last night’s episode, Frank Mir asked you about your black belt credentials. It seemed like that they chopped your answer up in editing, I wanted to see if you could talk a little more in-depth about how you got started in martial arts and what school you train out of.

Roli Delgado: I started training in ’97 and I currently train out of Westside MMA in Little Rock, Arkansas. I started training just jiu-jitsu and got started in amateur MMA about a year later and have just kind of been dabbling in MMA off and on for the past eight or nine years. I’ve been training jiu-jitsu for ten years now.

Sam Caplan: How old were you when you started?

Roli Delgado: 15.

Sam Caplan: How did your parents feel about you getting involved with MMA and jiu-jitsu at such a young age?

Roli Delgado: I didn’t start in MMA. Nobody really knew what MMA was back then, except for the hardcore people that were watching. It wasn’t a household acronym at the time. It was just me doing martial arts and it just happened that I was training Brazilian jiu-jitsu and kickboxing.

Sam Caplan: We don’t hear about many fighters coming out of Arkansas. What’s the MMA scene like down there?

Roli Delgado: It’s quiet. There’s only a few real good gyms in the state, so we have to travel to get around. Actually, out of the Westside Gym we have a lot of high-profile people. Seth Kleinbeck, he’s a medical doctor and a pro fighter that used to fight for EliteXC. He trains at my gym and then you have Hillary Williams, who is one of the top female grapplers in the country right now. She actually has a winning record against men. She’s won blue belt men’s divisions at NAGA (and) she won the Pan Ams within the past couple of weeks in New York. She’s a phenomenal purple belt and she’s out of our gym too in Little Rock, Arkansas. Then I made The Ultimate Fighter.

And we’ve got a heavyweight coming out of Little Rock that’s huge. The guy is a former strength and conditioning coach and weighs 250 pounds. The guy is an athletic machine and he’s 16-1 now. He’s 8-1 as a pro and about to bust out onto the scene. He has his first pro boxing match next week, actually. The guy is very talented and his name is Mike Wessel. He’s going to be huge.

Even though you don’t really hear much about Little Rock or Arkansas, we have a really good program down here and we travel all over the country just trying to find good competition and trying to stay busy.

Sam Caplan: So in order to fight, you have to travel out of state?

Roli Delgado: Oh yeah. Yeah. I’ve only had one pro fight in Arkansas. Most of the time it’s fighting for the AFC in Florida or like the Danger Zone in North Dakota. Whenever opportunities come up, I just take them.

Sam Caplan: Can you talk a little more about your background. You mentioned on last night’s episode that you were a college graduate and that you’re a investor in real estate. Is MMA your full-time job?

Roli Delgado: My main source of revenue is from my gym, Westside MMA. I’m a full-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor. That’s where I get the majority of my income and then I do own a few rental properties in North Little Rock. Those are more investments. They aren’t income producers, so I’m not a slumlord (laughs). They’re actually nice houses. I barely cover the notes with the rent but it’ll pay off in the long run.

Sam Caplan: When Frank Mir started to ask you about your jiu-jitsu credentials, did you feel at first he was just doing it to get to know you better, or did you feel he was putting you on the spot on purpose?

Roli Delgado: I think he was putting me on the spot on purpose. He was trying to call me out in front of his guys. I think he thought it was funny. I felt it was pretty immature on his part. The question wasn’t whether I was a good or bad black belt — everybody can have an opinion on that. But I felt he was questioning my integrity a little bit, and that what bothers me. Anybody that knows me knows that I’m not a storyteller and I’m not a liar. And my black belt testing is actually on Google videos if you type my name in. You can find it.

It’s really a shame that it was an issue on the show, because it shouldn’t have been. Like I said, I think Frank Mir was a little immature. What can you do? It’s out of my control. He asked me who I got my black belt from and I told him and he asked me a bunch of followup questions and they edited it to make it look like I was rambling about it. Like I said, it’s not something people have to take my word on, they can see it with their own eyes.

Sam Caplan: Last night’s episode was the first time they got into your blackbelt credentials. Had there been things that transpired that led up to that situation? Why did Frank Mir decided to start in on you?

Roli Delgado: Yeah, Vinny had asked me about it and I think it was just guys on the blue team — who, ironically, I had never trained with — just questioning my legitimacy. And I think that’s kind of what got it started. I’m not a well-known guy as far as the Brazilian jiu-jitsu scene. Living here in Little Rock, I’m not willing to travel to LA to do a single-elimination tournament like Pan Ams or Worlds, which cost me a $1,000 to go and compete and I might only have one match. Most of my tournaments have been — I’ve won a couple of the NAGAs — the North American Grappler’s Association tournaments. Because I can bring a team of 10 or 12 people and I can coach all of those guys and then compete, it makes more sense financially. It makes better use of my time but I don’t have as many people that are going to fly out to California to do some of those bigger-name tournaments.

So I’m not a well-known name. I am out in the middle-of-nowhere in Arkansas, so I think some guys were questioning it. Unfortunately, Frank Mir kind of jumped in on that.

Sam Caplan: I wanted to ask you about some of the pre-fight antics of Junie, with his decision to break out the black belt, throw it on the ground, and spit on it. Was that something you feel he thought of on his own, or do you think someone might have put him up to it?

Roli Delgado: He probably thought of it on his own. It made a lot of people mad but it didn’t upset me. It’s Junie Brown; it’s to be expected. You knew he was going to do something at the weigh-in. It didn’t catch me offguard and a kid like that, I’m not going to get involved in mental games with that guy. That’s just not how I am; that’s just not my personality. Honestly, I was just laughing. I thought it was funny. He’s trying to get me upset and he was doing a pretty poor job of it. He made a lot of other people upset but I wouldn’t expect anything less out of Junie.

Sam Caplan: I forget exactly who it was, but in one of the interviews they showed just before the fight, one of Mir’s team members claimed you were nervous.

Roli Delgado: They thought I was scared. Yeah, uh-huh. Those guys didn’t get to train with me. You can talk to anyone, I trained with the lightweights every day. I rolled with the lightweights every day. They rolled with me every day. I wasn’t scared going into the fight. I thought that I was going to win the fight. I never bought into the Junie Brown hype machine. They thought I was intimidated — the problem is that I don’t have a Type A personality like most fighters. I’m a really laid back guy. I’m very chill and it’s kind of hard to get me upset. I think that they took that as weakness and I think some people read me wrong.

I don’t think there is any correlation between how you talk and how you fight. You could say a lot about the fight; that maybe I wasn’t technical as I should have been. I didn’t fight a perfect fight by any means, but I don’t think anyone is ever going to question my heart or question me as a fighter. When it comes down to fighting, I want to do the fighting in the cage. I don’t want to do the fighting at the weigh-ins. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to tell you how I am going to beat this guy or do this. I just want to show you. And I just think some of the guys took that as weakness and me being a timid person. I just think some people read my personality wrong.

Sam Caplan: Do you think Junie is a UFC-caliber fighter?

Roli Delgado: No, not yet. Definitely has the potential. And I don’t think I am, either. I’ve learned a ton and I fought fairly early in the season. I had another month of training with Nogueira and his staff and it was amazing. I’m a much better fighter now than I was then, and I am sure Junie is to. But at the time, to be honest, I don’t think most of the guys in the house were ready but I think most of the guys in the house had the potential to be a UFC-caliber fighter.

But none of us were on that level, with the exception of one guy — and I’m not going to name who — in particular that I think is at the level. I think that most of us aren’t there yet, we’re just on the cusp of being there. We have the potential. But that’s what the show is about. It’s taking guys that have the potential and grooming them from there (and) trying to discover tough guys.

At that moment was Junie ready to fight in the UFC? No, he wasn’t. But neither was I and neither were a lot of other people in the house.

Sam Caplan: You performed really well in that first round. You won the round with some solid striking. Then in the second round, it looked like you might have gotten tired. Your hands started to drop a lot and Junie started to take advantage of that. Is it a fair assessment to say you were getting tired at that point?

Roli Delgado: Here’s what happened in the second round — and a lot of people are saying I got tired — and yeah, I was fatigued. But it wasn’t fatigue from not being in shape. We were all in shape. If you look at the end of that first round, he clocked me with three solid shots; shots that I felt would have stopped a lot of other fighters. He hit me a couple of body shots in that first round. The body shots and the head shots, man, that takes it out of you. Somehow your lungs are connected to your head.

If you go back and watch the fight, a lot of people talk about people gassing. It’s not necessarily that their lungs just burn up, I mean a lot of times it’s related to some decent shots. And I think the shots just took it out of me. It took until the end of the second round for me to recover. I came back stronger in the third. But it wasn’t general fatigue. All of the fighters in the house were in great shape going into the fights.

But man, I took some shots and my defense was poor. And I think that was what made me slow down in the second round.

Sam Caplan: Frank Mir really put over those body shots and said he felt those were some of the strongest body shots he’s seen. Do you feel like that was a fair assessment?

Roli Delgado:
I’m not going to lie, they were good shots. But never did I think they were going to break my rib or anything. You’ve seen fights when like Kalib Starnes got hit to the body and kind of had to stop fighting because he had cracked his ribs. So I don’t think that’s accurate. Mir just got excited. He gets excited and he says stuff and sometimes you just wonder what is this guy thinking? No, I don’t think those were the best body shots in the history of TUF. But definitely good body shots.

People are kind of questioning the power in Junie’s hands but I haven’t been knocked out and I’ve had over 20 MMA fights. He hits hard and his body shots hurt — they were good shots, for sure. I respected him for throwing them. And I threw body shots on him and on one or two, I could actually see him grimace but most of them didn’t have an effect on him.

Sam Caplan: Right after the fight was over, the camera zoomed in on you and Junie and he walked up to you and said something in your ear. Do you remember what he said to you?

Roli Delgado: Oh G-d, no. He was just telling me it was a good fight, I think. I was very upset. I’ve never lost a fight that close and when you lose a split decision like that, you realize that maybe if I hadn’t thrown that front kick in the third round that he caught and put me on my back where he just stood over me for a minute, that if I hadn’t thrown that front kick that I might actually got to fight again and maybe have even made it to the finale. It all comes down to just one thing here and one thing there that could have changed the fight and that really eats you. And it’s like my trainer says, if you’re not upset after losing a fight, you probably don’t need to fight anymore. I was very upset. It was probably the most emotional I’ve been in a long time. I was crushed.

  • finkrod says:

    Great interview, Sam. It’s nice to get a bit more in-depth post fight stuff like this. Top be honest, I wasn’t really blown away by this fight. It was just two guys with crude stand-up punching each other in the face. And with that reach advantage, I was surprised how much the little Gary Busey guy was picking him apart on the feet. For a BJJ black-belt, he sure didn’t seem to be trying too hard to get it to the mat.

  • garth says:

    guy needs to spend (how does joe rogan say it?) four weeks at wrestling school.

  • Ok, let me say that Roli proved to be a tough SOB. He took some good shots, BUT on the flip side he has no power whatsoever!!! He was throwing off balance punches and kicks that were thrown only to keep Junie off him or outta range! He will never knock anyone out or even scare them for that matter! And for his BJJ where the hell was it? A terrible gameplan if u ask me. He shot once! And it was awful! He has no business being on the show and I am sure after the fight Mir probably said Black belt my ass!!!

  • Evadmils says:

    Did you really censor the word God? Really? LoL

  • Guy Gaduois says:

    I learned that the ultimate test of humanity is being stuck on an elevator with someone. I was stuck on an elevator with some buisness associates for 2 hours – emphasis on the ‘ass’ part of associates.
    If I have to be trapped in an elevator with either Junie or Roli Delgado, I’d pick Roli.
    He can build strength and muscle; he can learn better skills – he’s already a decent guy, articulate and thoughtful, calm and composed . . . and as for Junie – the comic said it best: “You can’t fix stupid.”

  • Eric says:

    I was stunned that Roli didn’t try to take it to the ground more often. But then I read on another site that he doesn’t have very good takedowns and last night was evidence of that. Too bad, because I would have liked to see how Junie would have coped with a loss.

    It was too bad that Mir succumbed to the immaturity of his team and felt the need to call out another fighter and try to embarrass him in front of everyone. As a coach, Mir should be setting the example, not acting like a clown and feeding into the negative stereotype. I haven’t liked Mir on his season so far and I don’t think he has carried himself as he should have. After watching last night, I’ll be rooting for Big Nog in December.

  • Patrick says:

    Evadmils, shut up.

  • HexRei says:

    Censoring “god” is most likely a religious thing. I believe Jews do this (you’re not allowed to write the name of god or something) and perhaps other religions as well- not sure what faith Delgado is tho.

  • HexRei says:

    Pardon me, just did a quick search- the reason is that you aren’t allowed to DESTROY the name of god, and some people consider closing a web page, for instance, to be destroying the name of god.

  • JollyDV says:

    Nice article.You scooped me Sam, lol. I enjoyed watching the fight. I learned that Junie is not as good as he thinks he is. I hope his next opponent was watching closely and can come up with a good game plan and follow through.

    I can understand that Junie’s bad behavior makes the show more interesting for a lot of viewers. What will he do next? Can you believe that? He is crazy! It doesn’t work for me. I just see a confused, immature young man that hasn’t learned to respect others or even himself. He is young and I hope that he matures sooner than later, because he has much to offer. A little self control goes along way.

    As for Roli, I thought he looked much smaller than Junie. He is tall but I wonder if he couldn’t cut weight and fight at 145lbs?

  • rudy says:

    Rolli is an idiot. He comes across as very arrogant. How many times do we have to hear about his rental property and degree and other fighters not being on his same level. I have seen you fight twice and you got beat both times I have seen in several fighters blogs that he was not liked by either team. If they were rolling with him I am sure it was to snap one of those twig arms or legs. As far as a split decision WTF I dont think it should have went to a 3rd round.

    Go smoke another pole dude. Thats how you got your blackbelt isnt it?

  • ctownhood says:

    Rudy……really? Roli may not be the most gifted fighter, and admits as much. But arrogant? Questioning someones sexuality is really mature too

  • John says:

    I think it’s completely unfair to call Roli out on his decision to stand up with Junie, because everytime it went to the mat, Junie got scared and stood up and just waited. He criticized Efran for just laying on his opponent all fight long, but Junie didn’t even lay on the guy. He just stood there and looked at Roli. All Junie wanted to do was stand up, and that says a lot about what he really thought of Roli’s jiu-jitsu. If it wasn’t for Roli being ok with having the fight on their feet, that fight would’ve gone nowhere.

  • Jason G says:

    Frank Mur is that you?

    any yes that’s how I like to say it so that’s how I’m going to spell it

  • rudy says:

    his arrogance comes from saying people are not on his level becauses he owns a gym and rental property etc not because he says he is the best fighter

    Although I am the first to post the sexuality issue with him I promise I am not the first to think it. I can tell you this. Littlerock Arkansas is not a hotbed of metrosexuals and no str8 dude would wear the pink thing he wore to draw attention to himself he refers to in junkies interview. He wanted to be the first queer on the show

    Editor’s Note: First off, there would be nothing wrong if Roli Delgado happened to be homosexual. However, the man is married to a female and has a daughter so your assertion is factually incorrect.

  • rudy says:

    oh by the way I would sayit to his face because I know he does not punch hard enough to hurt anyone and he cant get anyone to the ground either :)

  • Jason G says:

    Congratulations on being:

    1) a homophobe
    2) a keyboard warrior
    3) a self proclaimed badass

  • Patrick says:

    Damn straight I am.

  • Evadmils says:

    Why the “shut up?” I just found it amusing that they censored the word god.

  • matthew says:

    john, i completely agree. Roli’s willingness to engage was what made watching that fight, regardless of lack of power. Junie should be ashamed of his performance and should perhaps learn from some of the greater fighters that don’t need to continually tell the world how great they are. I completely agree with the split decision.

  • ProudMinnesotan says:

    Jason G said
    “Congratulations on being:

    1) a homophobe
    2) a keyboard warrior
    3) a self proclaimed badass”

    Well put.

    I enjoyed watching the fight.
    (Great interview as well, keep them coming!)

  • matthew says:

    stupid double click…. grrr

  • HexRei says:

    John on October 24th, 2008 8:49 am

    I think it’s completely unfair to call Roli out on his decision to stand up with Junie, because everytime it went to the mat, Junie got scared and stood up and just waited. He criticized Efran for just laying on his opponent all fight long, but Junie didn’t even lay on the guy. He just stood there and looked at Roli. All Junie wanted to do was stand up, and that says a lot about what he really thought of Roli’s jiu-jitsu. If it wasn’t for Roli being ok with having the fight on their feet, that fight would’ve gone nowhere.

    Um, no it wouldn’t. The ref would have forced him to stand up if he had refused to get back up. This isn’t 1993 where a BJJ guy can lay on his back and refuse to get up because he doesn’t want to strike. Junie wanted to keep the fight on the feet, nothing wrong with that, and Roli had literally no ability to take Junie down. If Roli had not been as you say “ok with having the fight on their feet” he would have had to forfeit cause he sure as hell couldn’t force the fight to the ground.

    matthew on October 25th, 2008 5:45 pm

    john, i completely agree. Roli’s willingness to engage was what made watching that fight, regardless of lack of power.

    Did we see the same fight? I saw Roli backing away for most of the fight and trying to go to the ground at every opportunity, unfortunately he shoots like a twelve year old girl and couldn’t take the fight where he wanted it. Don’t confuse inability to secure a takedown with willingness to stand up.

  • jonb says:


  • big b says:

    rudy i trained with rolli in arkansas and not only would he kill your internet nerd ass, ichallenge you to a fight, say it my face, ill destroy your punk ass


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