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Del Rosario keeps moving up ranks

Pro MMA fighter, a UC Irvine alum, improved his record to 11-0 with a win last week.

February 19, 2011|By Joe Haakenson, Daily Pilot
(Kent Treptow / Daily…)

Make no mistake about it, Shane Del Rosario was excited about his last fight, a first-round submission victory over the respected Lavar Johnson in last Saturday's Strikeforce card in East Rutherford, N.J.

But as Del Rosario sat back in a chair this week at his training facility, Team Oyama MMA and Fitness in Irvine, the up-and-coming heavyweight mixed martial arts fighter seemed just as thrilled about his shorts.

Those shorts, adorned with the colorful logos of his sponsors like Power Balance, Extreme Endurance, Innovative Results and others, were "misplaced" at the IZOD Center in New Jersey. Somebody found them and sent them to Del Rosario for him to wear again.

Things are certainly looking good for Del Rosario these days, as his armbar submission win over Johnson improved his professional MMA record to 11-0. It positioned him as the first alternate in Strikeforce's current Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament, which included the MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko before Emelianenko lost his quarterfinal-round fight.

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That Del Rosario has emerged as a potential heavyweight title contender in the next few years seemed improbable, considering where he's coming from. He didn't grow up on the mean streets of Brazil, learning jiu-jitsu to feed his family. And he didn't roam the ghetto in South Central and box his way out of oblivion.

No, Del Rosario went to Dana Hills High, hung out at the beach, surfed and played on the high school basketball team. After graduating from Dana Hills in 2001, he went to UC Irvine and graduated with a degree in psychology.

"In my last year of college one of my friends went over to Colin's gym," Del Rosario said of Colin Oyama, owner and operator of Team Oyama. "So I decided to go over there too. Not competing in anything was driving me crazy."

Oyama, who himself fought as an amateur Muay Thai kickboxer, guided Del Rosario to the WBC World Muay Thai heavyweight title in 2008, a belt he still holds today. Del Rosario, though, initially resisted the transition of becoming a "mixed" martial artist. He didn't want to get on the ground where he didn't feel comfortable — "I didn't want to roll," Del Rosario said with a smile.

Oyama didn't push him, but eventually Del Rosario began working with Team Oyama's ground coach, Giva Santana.

"That was the plan all along," said Oyama, whose gym currently trains 16 professional fighters and previously trained Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Tito Oritz.

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