Shane Del Rosario was on the fast track.
The UC Irvine grad with a degree in psychology had been a surfer and basketball player at Dana Hills High, but went into the gym while in college and became a Muay Thai heavyweight kickboxing champion.
He slowly — and somewhat reluctantly — began to embrace the ground game, improving his jiu-jitsu and wrestling skills, which led him to a Strikeforce contract and a potential path to mixed martial arts stardom.
He was 11-0 in his MMA career, had just beaten the respected Lavar Johnson and was the first alternate in Strikeforce's Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament.
Then, crash! It all came apart.
On April 14, a couple months before a scheduled fight against another up-and-coming fighter in Daniel Cormier, Del Rosario was in his car at a stoplight when he was hit by an alleged drunk driver, totaling his car and severely injuring his back.