From the time he turned pro, Roger Bowling was a big fish in a small pond.
Now that's not to say he had no competition when he was coming up in the Ohio fight scene, but there was very little maturation process for the powerful young fighter who made quite the splash in his first few fights.
Bowling ran through two opponents to kick off his career, then he was asked to face undefeated prospect Shamar Bailey in the main event of another local show with a title belt on the line.
“I was 2-0 when they asked me to fight Shamar Bailey and he was like 8 or 9-0 at the time, and I was like yeah, I want to be tested cause I was yet to be tested. I went out there and did extremely well against Shamar, who is a great guy,” Bowling told MMAWeekly Radio this week.
Bowling blasted Bailey out in only 28 seconds. From then on out, it was only main events for the quickest rising star from Ohio since another Cincinnati native named Rich Franklin burst on the scene years earlier.
Two fights after beating Bailey in less than a minute, Bowling then faced future Ultimate Fighter cast member and current UFC welterweight Seth Baczynski. Amazingly enough, Bowling outdid himself in the fight with Baczynski, winning by knockout in only 9 seconds.
“The Baczynski fight, both (he and Bailey) would have been wars if they would have went longer than a minute, but they were both quick fights. It was awesome getting to fight them early on,” Bowling stated.
The expectations were very high as Bowling made his transition into Strikeforce, but the Ohio superstar quickly found out that things can change in an instant when you become the small fish in a big pond.
Bowling went 2-2 in his first four fights with Strikeforce, losing twice to Bobby Voelker, before picking up back-to-back wins in his last two fights.
Now Bowling stands on the precipice of returning to a main event level fight as he steps in against Tarec Saffiedine this weekend at Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman. Heading into the fight, Bowling is the underdog, and not the main event.
For once in his life, Roger Bowling is slipping under the radar, and he's completely fine with that scenario.
“It is nice. Ever since I was an amateur I had like two fights and then every fight after that I was the main event, the pressure was always on me to perform in front of my hometown,” Bowling explained.
“Coming into this fight an underdog is nice. I feel like I can just go out there, give 100-percent, and I'll definitely get my hand raised.”
If he is successful, Bowling will likely jump near the top of the welterweight rankings in Strikeforce where new champion Nate Marquardt currently sits as king. He's not going to be asking for title shots with a win, but Bowling knows beating Saffiedine would be a huge statement towards achieving that goal in the near future.
“It throws my name right in the mix,” said Bowling. “That was definitely the top reason for taking the fight. He's somebody that forces me to train and bring out the best Roger Bowling. Those are the guys that I want to fight.”