Mark Bocek Calls Out Dennis Hallman, Will Take “Whoever, Whatever” UFC Offers
By Kelsey Mowatt
Although it may not have produced many memorable moments for fans not interested in the finer points of grappling, Mark Bocek reasserted his presence in the UFC lightweight division Saturday night, by working his way to a unanimous decision win over Nik Lentz. Coming off a loss to current number one contender Ben Henderson in April, Bocek not only returned to the winner’s column with the win, but he became the first man in well over four years and sixteen fights to hand Lentz a defeat.
“It was very important,” said the BJJ black belt, who turned to his takedowns and controlling top game at UFC 140 in Toronto, to score his tenth pro win. “The loss to Henderson was bad; I was really disappointed. More than anything I want to be exciting, but with this fight in my hometown, more than anything I just really wanted to get a W. I’ve never lost two in a row and I never want to lose in my hometown again.”
Since making his UFC debut in 2009, Lentz had gone 6-1 with one no contest prior to facing Bocek, earning victories over vets like Tyson Griffin, Rafaello Oliveira and Andre Winner.
“Where this puts me? I don’t really know,” said Bocek, who has also won six times in the Octagon now. “Lentz was on a 15 fight undefeated streak and he’s a tough guy. There’s still some things I need to work on. I’ve only had 14 MMA fights, so if I compare that to how many jiu-jitsu matches I had before, I’m really starting to feel comfortable.”
The deciding factor in the bout was Bocek’s ability to consistently take Lentz to the mat, a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler. Although Bocek has drawn some praise for his takedown abilities in the past, his most recent defeats have come against experienced wrestlers like Jim Miller and the aforementioned Henderson.
“I’m just trying not to be as desperate with it,” Bocek told FCF. “It comes much easier when you can make someone think about striking for a little bit and then set up takedowns. It actually becomes much easier; you can be a better type of wrestler if you can set it up like GSP does.”
To Lentz’s credit, despite having an accomplished jiu-jitsu competitor on top of him throughout much of the fight, he defended well from the position and in turn threatened Bocek with several guillotine attempts.
“I wasn’t trying to pass his guard because he’s not just a BJJ guy, originally he comes from wrestling, so with guys like that you want to create less scrambles,” said Bocek. “So they don’t get back to your feet. My whole thing was to get the takedown and stabilize, chip away at him, but I would have liked to be a little more violent with the ground-and-pound.”
Up next, one would think that the UFC will look to schedule the 30 year-old-fighter’s next bout for sometime in the spring. Based off who Bocek has faced over the last two years, it’s likely that the Toronto fighter will face another of the promotion’s more established competitors.
“Who knows, maybe a match with (Dennis) Hallman would be a good test for me,” said Bocek, while discussing where his latest victory has positioned him and what fight might be next. “Whoever; whatever they decide.”
Of course, Hallman scored a quick submission win over John Makdessi at UFC 140, another lightweight from Montreal’s renowned Tristar Gym that Bocek now calls his training camp home.
“Yes and no,” Bocek said, when asked if Hallman’s most recent win has something to do with his interesting in fighting him. “I don’t really look at it like it’s revenge; it’s a small community and everyone kind of knows everyone, but it’s more so because if he can make the weight, he’s going to be a pretty powerful lightweight.
“I think he may be able to give people problem’s with his grappling and size, and with his experience, he’s not going to fight stupidly and take his strengths to your weaknesses, like he did this weekend,” said Bocek said, who also noted that he’d be interested in fighting the winner of the upcoming Joe Lauzon, Anthony Pettis bout. “I don’t know, I think it might be a fun, competitive match-up.”
Photo via MarkBocek.com