Canadian bantamweight fighter Roland Delorme is now 2-0 inside the world famous UFC octagon after a brilliant come-from-behind victory against Nick Denis at UFC on FOX 3. After losing to eventual runner-up T.J. Dillashaw on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show, Delorme was determined to secure a UFC contract. After back-to-back submission victories to open his UFC career, the Winnipeg native now holds a comfortable spot on the organizations 135-pound roster.
Delorme accepted the bout against against Denis on short notice while heart, perseverance paired with a crafty submission game led Delorme to victory in one of the most exciting fights on the card. Shortly after his victory, Delorme talked to Fight Cove about his big win at UFC on FOX 3, his journey into mixed martial martial from origins in Judo, his only career loss and much more.
Mike Bohn: You had a really outstanding performance on Saturday night, submitting Nick Denis with a rear-naked choke in the first round of your bout. How are you feeling about the fight after having a few days to digest it all?
Roland Delorme: I feel great about the way things went you know what I mean, I mean I knew the first round was going to be the worst from him. I knew he was going to come out strong and big and powerful and he’s a big strong guy and he hits hard, so I knew that first round I was going to have to be really careful and not take too many punches, you know I wanted to be careful – I wanted to be cautious, but not too cautious where I make it a boring fight, you know what I mean? I just wanted to go out there and just perform to the best of my ability and I knew it was going to be hard at first, but I knew if I could weather the early storm I could come back and try to win the fight. I knew if I could last the first round I could win that fight.
Mike Bohn: Did you come out of the fight free of injuries?
Roland Delorme: No, you know I feel great. I feel fantastic. You know I didn’t get hurt, which is great. It was almost nice having like a quick little training camp for that fight because I almost didn’t even have time to get hurt, I didn’t have any time to get injured, my muscles really didn’t get exhausted, you know what I mean? But, yeah, after I feel good too right now, so, I’m going to get back in the gym right away here and just keep on keeping on.
Mike Bohn: Have you watched the fight yet?
Roland Delorme: Yeah.
Mike Bohn: It was obviously a rough one, but aside from the finish, what did you think you did well in the fight?
Roland Delorme: I think the best thing I did was just smother him when I tried to get – he was coming with punches, you know I got rocked a bit I was shaky for a nice little bit there but I just grabbed a hold of him, you know, tried to smother him. I didn’t want him to get any of those punches off, I didn’t want him to get those knees off, I wanted to get inside his body and make him work a bit. You know, I find I do that really well, you know, the fight kind of went the way I thought it was going too, you get beat up at first then you’re coming back and winning. I mean, I thought I did – it kind of went according to plan a little bit. I mean, nobody ever plans on getting rocked or dropped with a knee or all that stuff, but I expect to get banged up a little bit.
Mike Bohn: You took a couple big shots early on in the fight; were you hurt at all and how do you manage to keep you composure in a situation like that?
Roland Delorme: Was I hurt at all? Oh yeah, I was all over the place, you know what I mean, my balance was off a bit gone and stuff like that, I was definitely hurt, but it’s something that I was training for, I train to come back, I get hurt all the time in the gym and you know, it’s just a matter of keeping calm and cool and collected. I’m here to do a job and even if I get hurt a little bit I’m not going to let that change the way I fight. I like to be aggressive, but careful as well and I pretty much just took a few deep breaths, you know and I’m good to go again, take a second, try to recover. You know, if I can take time off, if I can get it to the ground I can get a few extra seconds great. It doesn’t take me long to recover, one thing I’ve always been good at it; it’s been the recovery for some reason. I have really quick recovery and you know, I proved it there.
Mike Bohn: Is Denis the hardest hitter you’ve ever faced in a fight?
Roland Delorme: Yeah probably, so far, definitely. You know, every time he hit me I felt it for sure, but those are the fights I like. If it’s not dangerous, it’s not fun. If it isn’t going to hurt it’s not worth it. I got to take a few to know I’m in a fight, you know, sometimes I like to take to get those shots, wake me up.
Mike Bohn: You got the submission with about one-second left in the round. Were you surprised he tapped out with so little time left or did you know that once you had that choke in he was done?
Roland Delorme: I knew the choke was on, but the thing was some people are hard to choke out. Some guys you have it on, they’re not totally choking, other guys, you know, survive. All I did was grab the neck and I felt it under his chin I just squeezed for dear life. I squeezed with everything I had to kind of finish it. I was trying to put the last nail in the coffin and you know, I just felt like it was there, but I was kind of surprised he tapped. I thought he was either going to go out, or the round would end. That’s what I thought was going to happen. Then I felt the tap, man, and it was like – I can’t even explain the feeling you get, you know what I mean. You can’t explain it, how good that felt.
Mike Bohn: That’s your second straight rear-naked choke win and fourth submission by RNC in your career. Is it safe to say that is your favorite submission? Or does it just the one that tends to come the easiest?
Roland Delorme: It’s not so much that it’s my favorite submission, it just seems like whenever I get there I can finish, you know, it’s one of those instances where I am comfortable and when I take somebody’s back, for some reason I always find the neck. You know, it’s something I’ve always been good at, it’s just the way I do it. I learned jiu-jitsu and have been doing Judo my whole life, I’ve been grappling for so many years that there’s so many moves that I do naturally, I do it without thinking. Taking the back and going for the neck is one of those things I do – I take the back and I grab the neck immediately, I just seem to lock on. I can sneak it in there before people get their chin down.
Mike Bohn: When did you start doing jiu-jitsu? How old were you?
Roland Delorme: I started doing Judo when I was like, probably about 8. I did that until I was about 18, then I started doing jiu-jitsu when I was like 20.
Mike Bohn: How did you get into that? Did your parents place you into it or did you have family who did it?
Roland Delorme: My parents put me in it. What it is I was getting in a lot of trouble when I was a kid, you know what I mean I was fighting a lot. My parents wanted to put me in something that was aggressive, that was cheap, you know, that was affordable for them because we didn’t have much money right, so they put me in Judo, like kid’s programs. They started me off, put me in there and I guess because – I really liked the part of competing and throwing people around and you know what I mean, getting thrown and the whole atmosphere of like competing and watching, you know when I started doing that I really liked it. I did it for a long time, for like 10 years and I stopped because I really wanted to fight and I started doing jiu-jitsu and it just felt like it was a natural progression of my life. It was just a natural progression.
Mike Bohn: What was the highest level you competed at in Judo?
Roland Delorme: I won the national championships. I won the Canada World Games in Judo. I placed at many national/international competitions and within Canada of course. I never go overseas or anything like that.
Mike Bohn: So you must like watching people like Ronda Rousey fight then?
Roland Delorme: Yeah, man. They’re exciting. I really liked Karo Parisyan too back in the day, you know. Manny Gamburyan and stuff like that, he has a good Judo background. A lot of times, you know what I mean, it’s just different. Having Judo is – I have takedowns that are different than most peoples and sometimes it’s hard for people to train for because you never really know which one I am going to go for.
Mike Bohn: Your fight originally scheduled to be a dark match; the UFC wasn’t even going to broadcast it. Then they decided at the last minute to put it on Facebook. How happy were you that they made that decision?
Roland Delorme: I’m happy, I think they’re happy they made the decision too, you know what I mean? I think they’re definitely happy they made the decision. Think of all the people who never got to see that exciting fight if it would have went dark, and how many disappointed people there are going to be man. That was a fantastic fight; it deserved to be on TV, let alone on Facebook.
Mike Bohn: I agree. I’m surprised they didn’t find a way to squeeze it in there somehow.
Roland Delorme: Yeah man, me too. Especially for one round, you know what I mean. That was one crazy round, I figured they might fit that in somewhere, but hey, next time you know, now they know who I am and they know how I fight. Every time I fight I mean, it’s always like that.
Mike Bohn: Did that switch from it being a dark match to even them putting it on Facebook, does that have an effect on your sponsorship? Do you get more attention from them?
Roland Delorme: Not so much, I think it’s more if I actually go on TV, that’s where it makes a big difference. All it does is that it makes me popular, it makes me more people see what I can do, more people watching the fight. Putting it on Facebook was more for, I mean pushing me a little bit, that was pushing me better than my sponsors really. The big difference with sponsors is if you make it on TV. On TV you make big money, on prelims not so much.
Mike Bohn: You’re 2-0 in the UFC now, but before that you were on The Ultimate Fighter and then before that you actually had the first loss of your career to Eric Wilson. What was the process of going on the Ultimate Fighter from a loss, what was that like for you?
Roland Delorme: I mean really, anybody who has seen that fight knows that it was a damn close fight. I thought I won that, I thought I did enough to win that, you know what I mean, but two of the three judges didn’t think so, but that’s fine. You can’t win every fight, if I go to the judges, then that’s just my bad. It was a close fight and could have gone either way, so I never really felt or took that as a loss for me. I took that as an “Okay, I should have done a few things differently to win, maybe if I would have done this or I would have done that”. But, you know, it was so close that, what are you going to do, right? I felt that I didn’t get blown out of the water, I didn’t get knocked out-concious, I didn’t get tapped out, you know what I mean? So I felt like, I took it more as a learning experience. I never felt like it was really a loss, you know so when I went to The Ultimate Fighter to try and get in, I used that as motivation. I almost really, you know I should be 9-0 right now, that’s how I feel. There’s a big difference between 8-1 and 9-0, you know? I mean, I take it as a learning experience, I went onto “The Ultimate Fighter”, I made it like I won that fight. I felt in my heart that I won that fight so I was able to still be confident and hope that I would make it, and obviously they like what they saw.
Mike Bohn: So when you made your UFC debut last December was there a lot of – there’s obviously pressure on everyone when they fight in the UFC, but was there even more knowing that if you had lost, you would have been on a two-fight losing streak even though you though you felt like it wasn’t a loss?
Roland Delorme: No, I never thought about that that way at all. I thought about it as I’m coming here, I’m winning this fight and I’m going to get my contract with the UFC. That’s all I thought about that fight I didn’t care about my last fight. I didn’t care about the past, I didn’t care about the future, I was in the now, and right now I want to win this fight, and that’s how I felt going into that. I believe in myself, I believe in my abilities and I believe in my coaches, my training partners, so when I go out there I’m prepared for whatever. I’m prepared for war. I’m prepared to go three rounds if I have too, you know, and just every fight that’s just how I think about it. It’s about this fight; it’s about right now. I got to win this fight, and if I win this fight, then everything else will fall into place.
Mike Bohn: Well it’s all worked out for the best, obviously, and how soon would you like to fight again?
Roland Delorme: Right away actually. I was hoping to get on the Calgary card, but I think it’s full right now, which is too bad, but I definitely want to fight in Canada, that would be huge for me, to fight on a UFC event in Canada. But hey, whenever man, whenever they need me, you know. I always stay in shape, I’m going to keep running, I’m going to stay on those sprints, I’m going to stay in the gym and just prepare, take a short notice fight again if I have too.
Mike Bohn: When you don’t have a fight are you the type of guy that just likes to train and just work on everything or is there like specific things you like to do? Do you just train broadly then once you have an opponent you focus in on more specific things?
Roland Delorme: Yeah, for sure. I try to train everything generally. I’m always working on my kickboxing, always going to jiu-jitsu school, always going to wrestling and stuff like that. Once I get a certain opponent, I start tweaking what I’m doing from there. If this guy’s really good at knee taps I need to work on my knee taps, if the guy’s really good at picking people up, I just work on my sprawl a little bit better. It’s all in general, and once we find an opponent we work to beat this guy, we start honing my wrestling classes, my jiu-jitsu classes, my striking classes to beating a certain type of person.
Special thanks to Roland Delorme for doing this interview. You can follow Roland on Twitter at @rolanddelorme1.
The interview was conducted by Mike Bohn, founder and lead writer of FightCove.com. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @FightCoveMike. Also, be sure to follow @FightCove on Twitter and “Like” Fight Cove on Facebook.