Good things come to those who wait. The timeless proverb especially holds true for fans of Team Oyama member, Shane Del Rosario, who have waited well over a year to see him in the cage again. After a fantastic, first round submission victory over Lavar Johnson last February, Shane was involved in a car accident in which a female drunk driver hit his car from behind. He suffered a serious back injury that kept him sidelined for the rest of 2011. Now signed with the UFC, Shane's first fight back since his injury is against super tough Croation, Stipe Miocic at UFC 146. In a recent TapouT Radio interview, Shane discussed the impact he hopes to make in the UFC, training with Giva Santana and future plans for his career.
This is the biggest fight of my career. I'm finally in the UFC, and since it's been 14 months since I last fought, I've been really training my ass off. They took over my Strikeforce contract in December, but I was still working through my injury from the car accident. They told me to let them know when I was recovered, and it just worked out well for the May 26th card.
I was originally signed to fight Gabriel Gonzaga, but the thing with Overeem happened, and they switched me around to fight Miocic. It's probably a blessing that the fight got switched, because now Gonzaga is injured too. It's a bummer that he can't fight.
Training For Miocic
I'm doing all my normal training; my pads, mitts and sparring. Originally, when I thought I was fighting Gonzaga, I was training for a big heavyweight, and a black belt in jiu-jitsu. Now I've got a guy that's more my size, who is more of a boxer and wrestler type. Not to underestimate his ground game, but I don't think he'll be the same level as Gonzaga. I think it's going to be more of a boxing fight. I know he likes to throw because he was a Golden Gloves boxer.
From what I've seen from his fights, he's an athletic guy, and he has great cardio. When we get in there, I think we're going to go hard for all 15 minutes. I don't see him going straight to the ground. He's a boxer, and us stand up guys take pride in our striking, so we want to showcase that. I think the fans want to see that as well. Two big heavyweights throwing with each other.
I think we're both athletic guys, and we're both fast. I mean, if he does take me down, I'm fine with that. I've been training really hard with Giva Santana, my jiu-jitsu coach, and I feel real comfortable on the ground. I think if it goes there, my jiu-jitsu skills will be better than his.
Training With Giva Santana
It's great training with Giva. He's obviously a lot lighter than me, but we've been teammates and he's been my coach for four years now. Before, when it was stand up and muay thai, I was in there all day long, but when it was time to roll, I was the first one making a break for the door [laughs].
Over the past two or three years, I've seen the importance of having a good ground game and wrestling technique, so I really focused myself on that, and I've accomplished three submissions because of it. He;s a really great guy all around. He;s been like a father figure to me, and has pretty much taught me most of what I know in jiu-jitsu.
He's 40 years old and still fights. He's the kind of guy that I wish we could have seen him fight years ago, because I know he could have done a lot of things. He's the reason I train hard, and hopefully I can get either a knockout or a submission for him.
I started out as primarily a muay thai guy, and all I wanted to do was try to look for that knockout, but my last few fights, I've gotten submissions. It's nice to know that I've improved my jiu-jitsu game to that level. I don't mind going to the ground, and looking for that submission. I feel very comfortable both off my back or in top control.
Thoughts On Heavyweight Division
I think it's finally a full division now. Before it was always, 'The UFC guys are the best' or 'The Strikeforce guys are the best', but now, everyone is pooled in the same place. Now everyone is fighting each other. There are so many great guys. I think Dos Santos is a great champion. There's Cain Velasquez and Frank Mir, who is not only a great fighter, but is a seasoned veteran. I think with all of us being in the same place, it's going to make for some great fights over the next couple years.
Plans For The Future
I've sparred with the likes of Junior dos Santos, Brock Lesnar and Pat Barry, and I was able to hold my own with those guys. I think my game is up there, and obviously, with some more fights to get back into the swing of things, I think I'm definitely going to be a force in the UFC. I think after three fights, I'll definitely be looking to be a contender. I think I've paid my dues, and now it's my time to shine. I'm looking forward to showing everyone that I'm the real deal.
Follow Shane via his Twitter, @DelRosarioMMA