LastCall: Dennis, few people know that you were a Washington State High School wrestling champion in 1994. What weight was that at, and how did you get involved in MMA?
Dennis Hallman: I won the 135lb title my senior year. I was more of a scrambling wrestler than a ‘fundamentals’ wrestler so the transition to MMA wasn’t that hard. I had a local reputation for being a tough guy and got a call from a fella that said, “Hey, my friend wants to fight you to make a video.” That friend was Bobby Jacobsen…and I beat him. After that I started training with Bobby and a few of his guys, then Jeff Monson and I hooked up about a year later.
LastCall: When was your first fight?
Dennis Hallman: It was early in 1996. After about three weeks of training, mainly in submission wrestling, I fought on a Matt Hume card and choked out some Japanese kid in like 20 seconds. He said he wanted to go again and I ended up winning a decision the second time around.
LastCall: Since leaving AMC you’ve not had too many high profile fights. What gives?
Dennis Hallman: I’ve actually been scheduled to fight in the UFC twice since then. Once was against Romie Aram, then again against Jeremy Jackson. I’ve been keeping busy training and fighting as regularly as possible since then.
LastCall: Many fans credit Lady Luck for the two 1st round submissions of former UFC welterweight champion, Matt Hughes (winning twice in a total of 37 seconds) calling them ‘flukish’. Other fans maintain the argument, “Hughes was not the same back then” and “He’s much better now”…how do you respond?
Dennis Hallman: Hughes still does the same things he did when I fought him in Japan. The deal is that you either catch him when he makes a mistake or he pounds you to death. There’s no such thing as a lucky submission…just a prepared fighter that notices a mistake and the other fighter that doesn’t properly defend the submission. Hughes still makes mistakes, but BJ and I are the only ones that were able to capitalize on them. It’s impossible to say what would happen in a rematch…but if he made a mistake, I’d catch him again.
LastCall: Most in the MMA community last saw you against Ray Cooper at ROTR. What have you been up to since then?
Dennis Hallman: I’m a ‘stay-at-home-dad’ for my three sons during the day and I train with Benji Radach and the team (Victory Athletics) a few nights a week. There’s quite a few good up-an-comers training with us right now. I’ve also been dealing with all the bureaucratic crap over MMA here in Washington State recently. There’s a moratorium on amateur competition until the athletic commission writes it’s new rules…and they’re taking their sweet time. That’s why I haven‘t been promoting any events since early March. So I changed gears to focus on fighting for a while. Now I have great business partner running USA Mixed Martial Arts with me and we’ll be back in the swing of things before too long, but it’s given me the opportunity to look into bigger fights and still be able to maintain an active presence locally.
LastCall: So what are your immediate goals?
Dennis Hallman: My immediate goal is to choke that bitch, Trigg, out. The near future will bring, God willing, some fights against the best fighters in the world at my weight class because I believe I can compete against any one of them.
Dennis Hallman: Like…BJ Penn if he stays at WW; Matt Hughes; Charuto, Sean Sherk, Carlos Newton and anyone else the UFC would sign me to fight.
LastCall: Okay…well you’re scheduled to rematch Frank Trigg. In your first fight (for the WFA welterweight Title) you took a low blow during an exchange on your feet and eventually lost the match. Considering his wrestling background, and the fact that he initiated a shot right out of the gate against Hughes, what do you expect from him?
Dennis Hallman: Honestly? I just expect him to tap out. He won’t want to take the fight to the ground with me because he knows he’d be too busy defending submissions to even think about any kind of offensive maneuver. He’s not stronger than me, he’s not quicker than me…he’s just bald and talks a lot more. I saw his video clip on the Internet where he talked about me crying in the corner like an 8-year-old girl after our last fight. He said that like 3 times. Now, it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest that he knows what a sad little 8-year-old girl sounds like…but did you notice that he doesn’t dispute that he kicked me in the nuts…he just says that he won. No shit – and the NSAC changed the rule after that fight. I’m not worried about that ‘loss’. I know the real deal and so do the fans. It’ll be made clear here in a few weeks UFC 48.
LastCall: What are your thoughts on the current state of the UFC welterweight division and where do you stand among them? Specifically, I’m curious about your thoughts on Trigg’s loss to Hughes, Hughes’ subsequent loss to Penn, and Diaz’ recent knockout of Robbie Lawler.
Dennis Hallman: Well, BJ really blew the division wide open by moving up and taking the title in his first fight in the weight class. I had no doubt whatsoever that Hughes would beat Trigg, that was a given. I really thought Matt would pound the shit out of him though…not choke him out. Nick Diaz is a tough young kid with a huge amount of potential. I, too, thought he’d either submit Lawler, or Robbie would KO him. I never saw a Diaz KO coming. That was cool for him though. As far as the welterweight division goes…on any given day any of the top 15 guys could probably take one another. Shit happens.
LastCall: Okay…how about some word association to take us out. Let loose with whatever comes to mind.
Dennis Hallman: Sure…
LastCall: Frank Trigg
Dennis Hallman: tap tap tap…weak and unskilled, too
LastCall: BJ Penn
Dennis Hallman: Exciting, energetic…
LastCall: Matt Hughes
Dennis Hallman: Epitome of champion
LastCall: Nick Diaz
Dennis Hallman: the future…definitely
LastCall: Karo Parysian
Dennis Hallman: uh…Judo?
Dennis Hallman: skillful…I could probably tell you more after the Hughes fight.
LastCall: Robbie Lawler
Dennis Hallman: Reckless, tough, he’ll be back.
LastCall: Anything you want to leave the fans with?
Dennis Hallman: I just hope everyone tunes in June 19th and that my fight makes the PPV because I’m ready to show everyone what ‘Superman’ is all about.
LastCall: Thanks for taking the time to chat, Dennis. Good luck with the rest of your preparation.
Dennis Hallman: No problem, man. See you in Vegas.
Christopher “Last Call” Cope