TORONTO - The lone Canadian on UFC 152's main card certainly paid his dues getting there.
Halifax light-heavyweight Roger (The Hulk) Hollett fought 16 times before getting his UFC call-up. Then, due to a contract with another promoter, he was dropped from the Toronto card.
The 33-year-old is back, however, and will face Matt (The Hammer) Hamill on Saturday at the Air Canada Centre.
"I'm glad to be back on the card. I mean I was two days from heading back home, to figure out what I was going to do next," Hollett said. "So it was the best news of my life really."
Hollett (13-3) only got word he was back on the card on Sept. 11.
The fly in the ointment was his contract with Bellator, which included the right to match his next contract offer. Bellator eventually elected not to match the UFC offer, but the process took some time.
He was pulled from the UFC card in mid-August but elected to remain in training at Greg Jackson's camp in Albuquerque, N.M., with other fighters on the Toronto card.
The move paid off when his replacement, veteran Vladimir Matyushenko, tore his Achilles tendon, and Hollett was reinstated to the card.
The other good news was that friends and family who had bought plane and fight tickets to the show when Hollett was originally included had held onto them.
Jon (Bones) Jones defends his light-heavyweight title against former champion Vitor (The Phenom) Belfort in the UFC 152 main event while Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious (Mighty Mouse) Johnson meet to decide the UFC's first flyweight (125-pound) champion in the co-main event.
There are three Canadians on the undercard: bantamweight Mitch Gagnon of Sudbury, Ont., lightweight T.J. Grant of Cole Harbour, N.S., and welterweight Sean (The Punisher) Pierson of Pickering, Ont.
The Jackson camp has five fighters on the Toronto card. Hollett, Jones, Cub Swanson and Kyle Noke all held their training camps in Albuquerque, while Brian Stann trained closer to home in Atlanta.
Hollett, a former Maximum Fighting Championship title-holder who made his pro debut in 2006, says he's ready to show his skills in the Octagon.
"I'll be showing lots," he said.
"The confidence is up and I've got nothing to lose. So I'm going in there blazing," he added.
Sadly his father Ralph Hollett will not be there to see it. The former Canadian boxing and kickboxing champion, a member of the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame, passed away at the age of 59 in June due to cancer.
Roger Hollett's MMA journey has endured a few bumps.
He blew out his knee in an October 2007 loss to Lew Polley but returned 11 months later to beat Marcus Hicks. Despite that win, he says he came back too quickly from the surgery.
"I took a couple of fights I shouldn't have," he said referring to MFC losses to Emanuel Newton and David Heath in early 2008.
He has won all five fights since.
Another health red flag surfaced earlier this year on an electrocardiogram (EKG). But he was cleared after subsequent tests, although he was released by Bellator in the interim.
Hollett is a welder when he is not fighting and credits his boss at Wilson Titanium Products for helping allow the two jobs to co-exist.
The 35-year-old Hamill retired after losing to Alexander (the Mauler) Gustafsson in August 2011.
One of the high-profile graduates of "The Ultimate Fighter," Hamill's UFC record is 9-4. The other losses were to Michael (The Count) Bisping and former champions Rich Franklin and Quinton (Rampage) Jackson.
"I just don't have it in me to fight anymore and my last two performances have shown that," he said in announcing his retirement after the losses to Gustafsson and Jackson.
Despite his absence from the cage, Hamill has been made at least a 3-1 favourite by most bookmakers.
"He's a good wrestler, standup's OK," said Hollett by way of scouting report. "He's got a good chin so it's going to be a good fight.
"I'll be looking to test his chin."
The five-foot-10 Hollett has power, as witnessed in his April 2011 stoppage of Martin Desilets.
Asked about possible ring rust for Hamill, Hollett said: "It depends where his head's at.
"He left with his head a little shaken up. ... It's hard to say. Hopefully he's prepared."
The story of Hamill, who was born deaf, was captured in the 2010 movie "Hamill.''