Saskatchewan’s Ryan Rohovich (4-4) travels from the prairies to the maritimes where he’ll meet Moncton’s Shawn Wallace (8-2) in the main event of Fight League Atlantic’s debut event, FLA 1, Saturday night in Truro, Nova Scotia.
Wallace, a veteran of the East Coast MMA scene and currently ranked 19 in Tapology’s ligthweight Canadian rankings, is gunning for back-to-back wins after a unanimous decision victory over then undefeated Dee Logue a little under a year ago.
A brown belt in jiu-jitsu, Wallace, 30, is always confident in his ability on the ground, but his skill set extends way beyond the gi.
“My biggest strength would be my grappling; it’s always been,” Wallace said in an interview with MMA Empire.
“But since I started I’ve learned so much about the fight game in general and how to mesh things together. My ability to mix striking and grappling, blur the lines, has been one of my biggest improvements, along with learning how to be more calm, pick my shots and just be less nervous on fight night.”
Meanwhile, Rohovich, 32, is looking to get things back on track after a tough loss back at BFL 55.
Being a purple belt in jiu-jitsu and feeling his biggest strength also lies in his ability on the ground, Rohovich is constantly looking for ways to improve all facets of his game. He said he’s ready to face one of his toughest tests inside the cage Saturday night.
“I’m a lot smarter now and I’m in a lot better shape also. My techniques have grown and I’m just always learning new things,” Rohovich said in an interview with MMA Empire.
“I know he’s going to be a tough opponent; it’s going to be a tough challenge. He’s a good all around fighter and I’m excited to test my skills against a high level guy. His last fight he threw a lot so I know he’s a striker too, I just have to be ready for everything with this guy.”
Wallace Expecting Tough Test
Wallace, a veteran of 10 professional fights, will never take anyone lightly in the cage.
When it comes to squaring off against Rohovich, Wallace said he’s ready for anything and everything.
“I don’t know too much about him. He looks like he’s well rounded-enough and I think that he’s definitely coming to fight,” said Wallace.
“I don’t think he’s scared to engage, with a record of 4-4 he doesn’t really have anything to lose. I think he’s going to have that go for broke mentality and try and take some of my momentum.”
For Rohovich, one of the biggest changes he made leading up to Saturday night actually came outside of the cage. It’s a change in diet for Rohovich, a prairie boy who grew up eating a little bit of everything.
“I’m completely vegan. I never thought I’d be a vegetarian, let alone a vegan, because I’ve always been a meat eater. I used to feel I needed to eat meat to feel full,” Rohovich said.
“Camp has been great; it’s been a lot of hard work. So far, I feel my diet change has actually helped me, so I’m excited for this matchup.”
Rohovich trains to be prepared wherever the fight takes place, but said he wouldn’t be surprised to see the BJJ brown belt Wallace try and get the fight to the mat.
“To be honest, I think he’s going to try and take me down,” Rohovich said.
“I think he might feel me out and I’m going to clip him with either a kick or a punch. He’s going to want to take me down after that.”
For Wallace, on the other hand, the focus is less about looking to take him down and more about looking to simply shut him down.
“I’m going to make him make mistakes and I’m going to make him pay,” Wallace said.
“Whether it’s him giving me his neck on the ground or giving me his chin on the feet, it’s kind of irrelevant. I don’t know what he’s going to do, but I’m going to try and make it my fight and let him worry about me more than I worry about him.”
With a nice looking resume already, Wallace can see himself making even more noise this year.
The dream of every fighter who makes the walk is to get to a big show, but Wallace is one of the very few with a realistic opportunity if he can string some big wins together.
“Ideally, I will get through this fight without many injuries and be able to have an active 2020. The last few years it’s only been one fight a year, and that’s not ideal if I really want to make a push and try and fight on a bigger show,” Wallace said.
“I just want any big opportunity to test myself. I can’t keep doing it on the regional scene. If I keep winning, a good shot should come my way.”
For Wallace and Rohovich, all roads lead to this Saturday’s main event of Fight League Atlantic’s first ever card. It’s a battle of East vs West, and Wallace expects the maritime faithful to be in his corner.
“The FLA card is a couple hours away from where I grew up, so I’ll have some people travel over I’m sure,” Wallace said.
“I think my last fight I gained a lot of fans just in the maritimes in general, so I think even some of the locals are excited to see me fight.”