A Jiu-Jitsu black belt on team Ataque Duplo in Florianópolis, Brazil, Thiago Tavares has Shane Roller ahead of him as his next challenge, coming up at UFC Versus 3 on March 3. In a conversation with GRACIEMAG.com, the lightweight speaks of the matchup and offers his breakdown of the new troop coming into the UFC from the WEC following the fusion of the two events and discusses the acrobatics of Anthony Pettis, the champion of the now-defunct event.
Here’s what he had to say:
Tell us about your opponent, Shane Roller…
He’s good, comes from a wrestling background and is a three-time All American. Besides that, he holds Grapplers Quest titles. That means he’s also seasoned in Jiu-Jitsu. Standing, I feel he’s inconsistent. He impressed me against Ben Henderson, but after that I felt he was lacking against other guys. So I don’t know what to expect from him there: will he fight standing like he did against Henderson or like he did against the other guys I saw him against? But the truth is I feel he’ll look to take it to the ground, given the quality of his takedowns. That doesn’t mean anything either. I don’t know what qualifiers they use, but it seems like all the wrestlers were All American. So I figure he’ll try to take it to the ground and I’ve faced other good wrestlers before.
What are your thoughts on the new lightweights coming into the UFC from the WEC?
The level is just getting more and more competitive. The WEC was a little below the UFC, with some exceptions, like Ben Henderson, Anthony Pettis, Donald Cerrone, and Shane Roller himself. Those guys bring it on. So things will get even more complicated. Jamie Varner was going to fight in the UFC but isn’t anymore… I think the UFC has a roster of sixty-four lightweights now, so there will be a lot of heads rolling. I hope I won’t be one of them!
Pettis joins the fray as the champion of the WEC and will get a shot at the UFC belt in his next outing. Does he have a chance? What did you think of that incredible kick he landed on Henderson (watch here)?
Pettis, like Ben Henderson, is coming into the UFC strong. He has what it takes to snatch the belt. Pettis has a lot of quality about him. These acrobatics depend on the occasion. I’ve noticed that Pettis goes for things in the final seconds of each round. He may very well try that in the UFC, but as great a fighter as he is, he won’t be able to land those too often.
What will it take to move up the ranks in such a stacked division and get near a title shot?
I have to give it my best. I had fights were I had good showings, others where I didn’t. I have to concentrate. I feel really strong in this division and I have a lot of qualities. What matters is staying in the mix, and I’m going to focus on doing my best.