A dangerous twist of fate thrust Sean ‘Shorty Rock’ Santella into the fast lane of an MMA career.

Cruising in the fast lane on his motorcycle en route to the gym for a lift, Santella suddenly spots a truck to his right. The truck’s signal begins blinking as it simultaneously merges into Santella’s lane, giving him no time to react and avoid a collision.

His bike is sideswiped. He loses control. He’s catapulted over the handlebars, torpedoing into the trunk hood of the car ahead, cracking his helmet and breaking his forearm.

“I was fortunate I put my helmet on that day ‘cause, I’ll be honest, I didn’t wear it all that much down there,” says Santella.

There is Florida, where Santella worked for a moving company at the time of the accident and, soon after, found himself unable to work with a broken arm.

“If it wasn’t for the motorcycle accident, I would have never gone back home to New Jersey and began training. It’s weird how everything works out – that’s why I train like every fight is my last and train my ass off.”

Currently for Santella, standing 5-foot-5 and weighing 125 pounds, the goal is “to be in the UFC,” where Santella says, “I think I can make a big impact.”

But to get into the UFC, Santella has to get past Matt Rizzo, considered one of the best fighters at 125 pounds, with a 9-2 record. The fight, which will be live streamed on TheMMACorner.com via GFL from Global Proving Ground (GPG) 21 where it is billed as the main event on Saturday, July 25, “has been in the making for a while now,” says Santella.

“I know he’s a professional. Doesn’t miss weight. And his goal is the same as mine, which is to get into the UFC. We’re just in each other’s way now.”

Then he adds, “I’m not a big trash talker unless anyone gets under my skin, which is hard to do cause I’m not that guy. But I do think I’m the toughest guy he’s fought.

“He definitely went farther than me in wrestling,” Santella admits. “I didn’t take it that seriously. During high school wrestling season, I would wrestle and, in the summer, I would get in trouble while he was going to camps and grinding.

“But I got into MMA and, between that and my jiu-jitsu, I do think I’m a better fighter,” he continues. “In the past, [Rizzo’s] only way of winning has been by decision or a rear naked choke. So whether that’s because the people he fights make mistakes, or it’s just something he does really well, it makes it easier to practice and prepare for him. I’ve also gone five rounds with the top guys in the world, something he’s never done,” Santella reflects.

Santella feels he has the advantage over Rizzo based on several factors. “It’s an endurance factor. It’s a pace factor. It’s a skill factor. I’ll be dangerous no matter where the fight goes.”

Santella assures that the fight will be exciting, but not without emphasizing how much he respects his opponent. “I have a respect for everyone I fight,” he says with the sincerest tone of voice. “Anyone who makes weight and shows up ready to brawl, I respect them.”

Unfortunately for Santella, nine of his last opponents have missed weight, cancelling his fights at the last minute every time. “I think a majority of people are ducking me,” he confides. “Obviously injuries happen. I know that. But I also think people are missing weight to try to get an advantage on me and weigh more.”

But for Santella, people missing weight is part of the job – a dream job of sorts. “I’d say I’m definitely living the dream!” he gushes. “I don’t even feel like I go to work. I get paid to workout and train other people. It’s amazing!”

“Ten years ago, I wouldn’t see myself doing this,” he adds reflectively. “I saw myself getting in trouble, just partying all the time and drinking.”

With an ironic touch of gratitude, Santella concedes that, “If it wasn’t for the motorcycle accident, I would have never started my MMA career.”