26-year-old fighter Roger Bowling (6-0 pro record) is quickly making a name for himself on the regional scene. Bowling, born in Neville, Ohio, is a welterweight that combines strong striking with a raw physical strength seldom seen in the welterweight division. There has been a lot of buzz in the past year about Roger's potential and there seems to be a strong indication that he will soon be signed by one of the sport's largest organizations. Roger knows that the going will be tough once he gets to the highest levels of MMA. But if there is anyone up to the challenge, it's this young man. From a working class background, Bowling goes about his job in the cage with a blue collar mindset. I recently caught up with Roger to find out more about the fighter that goes by the nickname "Relentless":
Rich Wyatt: Tell our readers a little about yourself. What's your fighting background and how did you get into MMA?
Roger Bowling: I started out in amateur boxing and had about 7 or 8 fights and was undefeated. Then I began training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu after that. It wasn't long before I thought I'd try out fighting and did really well. I won a couple amateur bouts and decided to go pro. I've done well ever since, winning a couple of pro belts and have been working really hard with my team.
Rich Wyatt: Tell us a little about your team. Who are your trainers and who are some of the folks that you've worked with?
Roger Bowling: I'm training at Vision MMA in Cincinnati. We've got a really good team with some awesome fighters. Many of us went pro around the same time. Dustin Winterholt is 9-1 as a pro and is doing awesome. Victor O'donnel won the Ring of Combat 185 pound championship. We've got a lot of really good amateurs as well. T.J. Ball is a 205 pounder about to turn pro and is a really good wrestler. We train together every day. We've got a good boxing coach, a Muay Thai coach and some of the top Jiu-Jitsu guys in the area. We've got 3 different gyms in Cincinnati. We've got the best coaches in the area and our fighters just keep learning more every day. I just want to keep learning, getting better at boxing and all other aspects of the game. Rob Radford is Rich Franklin's boxing coach and I'm working with him some now as well.
More after the jump:
Rich Wyatt: What would you consider to be your strengths as a fighter and what is one area of your game that you'd like to work a little more on?
RB: I train with a lot of good wrestlers so I've seen a lot of improvement in that aspect of my game. One of my training partners wrestled at Syracuse. I've ground and pounded people and I've submitted people. I'm not a cocky guy at all but I'd say I'm well rounded. I've got heavy hands and am a decent wrestler. I try to be explosive and I like to get off first and take the fight to my opponent early. I'd say Jiu-Jitsu is something I need to focus on more. I get lazy with it sometimes and need to work more on it. I have some things that I need to improve upon and I need to stop using so much strength instead of technique.
Rich Wyatt: You've had a nice beginning to your professional MMA career, rattling off six consecutive first round victories. What's next for you?
RB: It looks like Strikeforce is who we're getting ready to do a deal with. I'll do one more title defense this year and then, hopefully, make my debut with Strikeforce in January. My understanding is that someone from Strikeforce is going to be on hand to see me defend my title on November 28th and then I'll be signing with them after that.
Rich Wyatt: I understand that you injured your hand in your most recent victory.
Roger Bowling: It's been a rough year for me. I broke my left wrist at work. I had to have a plate and seven screws in it. My left is my power hand even though I'm a right handed fighter. Then I injured my right hand in a fight, so it's been rough but I'll be ready for my next fight on November 28th.
Rich Wyatt: You had a fight scheduled on September 5th against War Machine (formerly known as Jon Koppenhaver) and had to cancel due to the injury. After the cancellation he had some less than flattering things to say about you and basically vowed never to schedule another fight with you. Is there anything that you'd like to say regarding this situation?
Roger Bowling: There is a lot that I'd like to say, actually. Honestly, I've canceled two fights in my life. This isn't water polo and most people realize that you get hurt in training and things happen. I had those two injuries back to back. I was the one pushing my manager to try and go through with the fight anyway. War Machine is a C or C+ level fighter. I think he would have been a great stepping stone for me. By no means would it have gone out of the first round. I would have mangled him. He knows it. His people were calling local gyms around here asking about my weaknesses, yet he claims to not be concerned about fighting me. He's a mouth and that's all. We'll cross paths eventually and when we do I'll land some extra punches before the ref pulls me off. I look forward to my fists meeting his face. That's for sure. For as much as he runs his mouth he sure does cry a lot. He cried on the Ultimate Fighter. He cried after his victory over J-Roc. He likes to talk some shit about how I haven't fought anybody but if you look at the records of the guys I've beaten, overall, they have better records than the guys he has wins against. I try to be respectful. This is a sport. I don't have to fight. I make great money where I work. I fight because I love it.
Rich Wyatt: A much more serious issue that you had to deal with around the time of that cancelation was the passing of your father. That's something that is difficult for any man to overcome. I've heard some trainers say that it's key for fighters to keep their lives balanced and to keep family at the forefront. How are you and your family doing now?
Roger Bowling: We're doing great. I've got two younger sisters, one 23 and one 14, and I'm trying to be strong for them. It's important for me to still watch over my sisters and make sure their lives are heading in the right direction. We're doing great, though. Thanks for asking. I know that he's in a much better place now. I'm fortunate to have surrounded myself with a lot of positive people and I try to keep my life balanced and stay healthy mentally and physically.
Rich Wyatt: How many more times would you like to fight in the next year? Do you like to keep a busy fight schedule?
Roger Bowling: I like to stay fairly busy. Maybe three or four fights a year. Any more than that, though, and I feel like I'm not learning. Making that weight cut more times than that is hard on your body. I'd rather focus on fighting the best guys available so fighting three or four times a year would be perfect for me.
Rich Wyatt: Switching gears a bit, who do you like in the upcoming world title fight between Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua?
Roger Bowling: I love Shogun. He's an awesome fighter but it's Machida's time. He's really strong mentally. He's got that swagger and is really tough to beat now.
Rich Wyatt: Is there anything that you'd like to say in closing to your sponsors or supporters?
Roger Bowling: I'd like to say thanks to Rod Housley from Vision MMA and my manager Jason Appleton. T.J. Ball has been a really good, positive person who's been there for me during the loss of my dad. Vic, Jordan, Mickey and all the guys at Vision MMA. I'd like to thank sponsors like Fight Fuel, Actual Fighter, Beacon Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, MVP and CallDoctorPaul.com. And thanks to MMA For Real for the interview. I'll try and stay in touch with you guys in the coming months.
MMAForReal.com thanks Roger Bowling for taking the time to speak with us and we wish him the best in his upcoming fights.