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Talking with Superman: an exclusive PRO MMA interview with Dennis Hallman

Being from the Northwest, I have always been slightly partial to hometown/NW fighters and Dennis Hallman is no exception. Known to many by his nickname, Superman, Dennis is an exciting and very experienced grappler/submission wrestler with an amazing 30 submissions out of 40 wins; 75%!

Hallman may be most well known as the first man ever to defeat Matt Hughes. The first win was a guillotine submission in just :17 seconds and the second win was an armbar in :20 seconds.  

From his amateur Promotion, CageSport, to his year long suspension for steroids, which until now, he has not discussed publicly, Dennis Hallman opens up and gives us a glimpse at Superman.

PRO MMA: First off, let me just say that, being originally from Tacoma, WA and living in Yelm, Wa in the past, I am a huge fan. Thank you for agreeing to talk with me. Your agent, Ken Pavia, recently discussed a possible return TO the UFC while on TAGG Radio. Can you elaborate for us?
Dennis Hallman: Well, Pav is doing a good job trying to get me back in the mix. I guess I was in line for a fight with Fitch but Gono was able to heal up enough to accept the fight. I would love to be able to step back into the UFC and fight a guy like Fitch.

PRO MMA: Ken also aluded to the fact that you are going to drop back down to welterweight. What weight are you most comfortable fighting at and why? Also, which weight do you feel you can be most competitive at and why?
Dennis Hallman: I really need to fight welterweight or lower. I walk around between 179-183lbs. I am willing to fight middleweight if the money is good or if its the right opponent. But I will be fighting at welterweight. I think I can compete at the top level at welterweight and lightweight.

PRO MMA: Not many people know about CageSport, can you tell us a little about it and what it’s like working on the other side of the business such as match-making and owning a promotion?
Dennis Hallman: CageSport is a local MMA show that gives guys the opportunity to prove themselves at a regional level. I have been promoting amateur shows in the Northwest for almost nine years. I have been involved with over 80 shows on the amateur level so I am very familiar with the other side of the fight business. Most of the pros in the Northwest have fought on my amateur shows at some time or another, so making matches for CageSport is an easy job. I am very familiar with almost every NW pro.

PRO MMA: At age 33, you have amassed quite an impressive record of 40-12-2, with 30 wins by submission. Do you have a favorite fight, or most memorable win?
Dennis Hallman: Well really I have about 25 more fights than my Sherdog record shows. One of my favorite fights was against a guy named Shane Sandoval. I was about 20 years old and the guy was a popular local Martial Arts competitor. MMA was still no-holds-barred then (most people had only one style) and I was still pretty much just a wrestler. I shot a double on the guy, at the same time I grabbed him he jumped in the air. It made it look like I picked him up over my head and threw him. The guy fell to the floor and hit himself in the mouth with his knees. I was in awe of what happened and it looked really cool on VHS.

PRO MMA: What organization do you think best suits you as a fighter? Not just money wise, but match-up wise, where you can be competitive and/or a title contender?
Dennis Hallman: I am 100% sure that I can beat anyone on any given day.And No B.S., I honestly believe that if I am on, then the other guy is in big trouble. So as far as title contention goes, I think that with proper preperation I can win anywhere. That being said, I really like Scott Coker and Strikeforce. Strikeforce is a fighter’s organization. I like the UFC, they have the best guys at almost every weight. I would also like to fight for Bellator, just because it would be cool to get exposure to the Spanish speaking MMA fans that may not have been exposed to alot of MMA.

PRO MMA: You are an 11 year MMA veteran and 33 years old. How much longer do you think you can really be competitive? Why?
Dennis Hallman: I think that MMA mirrors wrestling more than any other sport and wrestlers really mature in their 30′s, so that is good news. I have spent the last year and a half learning about my body and proper nutrition so I think the best Dennis Hallman is yet to come. If God is willing I hope to be active in fighting as long as my body can keep healthy.

PRO MMA: I ask everyone this; Many fighters now have clothing lines, radio shows, etc. Are you working on any projects outside of the cage?
Dennis Hallman: I am pretty busy raising my three sons Ryley, Richie and Jayden. My daughter Kylar Grace is being born via C-section tomorrow morning so I will be pretty busy with my kids. I also coach a junior wrestling team with 50 kids, we have matches every weekend. I also manage about 10 up and coming pro fighters, and ask Pav, each guy is a project by themselves.

PRO MMA: If you had your choice of anyone, who would you want to fight and why?
Dennis Hallman: I will seriously fight anybody but if I have the choice I would say GSP or Penn, they are the best two in my weight range, I would love the opportunity.

PRO MMA: You have an awesome and exciting fight style. As a BJJ practitioner myself, I would like to know, what is your favorite submission and why?
Dennis Hallman: My favorite sub is the guillotine because it is so easy to get. For years I quit doing it because it was so easy to get, I would just pass it up in practice but as of late I have been bringing it back and I love it.

PRO MMA: Finally Dennis, I have to ask…You were suspended for a year (for a positive steroids test) and you served your suspension as directed. Alot of fighters choose to go to Japan and fight there after a suspension. What, if any, were the reasons that you didnt? Can you elaborate at all about the suspension/fine, etc?
Dennis Hallman: I took steroids to help my neck injury heal after I had a discectomy on my C-5, 6 and 7. I wasn’t taking them to get huge or strong, just to heal faster. I honestly think that taking steroids is counter-productive for MMA, they do not improve how you punch or how good you are at subs. They actually hurt your cardio which is the biggest factor in MMA. That being said, I made the decision to take steroids, even though I believe that in my circumstance they should be allowed (for healing injuries). I did what I thought at the time would be best for me and got in trouble for it. I didn’t want to be one of those guys that whined about what happened to me when I tested positive. I did not give any interviews explaining my circumstances. My friends and the people I care about knew the reason that I was taking steroids and that was all that mattered to me. I am an adult, I made my choice and I paid for a bad decision. I was suspended for a year and fined $2500 bucks. Lame. Looking back, it was a good thing getting suspended. It showed me that I didn’t “have” to fight everytime a fight came up. I had fought unprepared and unhealthy many times in my career. The year break showed me that there will be other fights, it kinda made me grow up a little as a fighter. The next time I am in the cage I will be properly prepared and oh so hungry.

PRO MMA: Thanks Dennis, for being so open and honest with us, and taking the time out to answer my questions the night before your daughter is to be born, I appreciate it. Good luck with your newborn, I wish you nothing but the best in all of your future endeavours and hope to see you in the cage again real soon.

You can learn more about Dennis Hallman’s MMA promotion, Cage Sport at www.cagesport.net

-Jeff Howard

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