Hallman says the best is yet to come
Story by David L. Hudson Jr.
Trivia question: What fighter submitted Matt Hughes twice in a total of a mere 38 seconds.
Answer – Dennis “Superman” Hallman.
Hallman insists that he has much more to offer in the Octagon and his mixed martial arts career now that he has been properly diagnosed. For years, Hallman fought best early on in fights and then would suffer some stamina problems.
Fortunately, his outstanding submission skills enabled him to defeat many opponents. He has won an astonishing number (more than 30) of fights via submission. But, the stamina problem cost him in some big fights.
Consider in his last UFC bout, he was ahead on the scorecards against John “Doomsday” Howard before falling in the last few seconds.
Over the years he had sought the advice of doctors who thought he had chronic fatigue syndrome, a thyroid problem and other ailments. It turns out that he suffers from Celiac disease, which means he is allergic to wheat.
“It has been such a blessing to be diagnosed properly after all these years,” Hallman said. “I got diagnosed last May and now I can control it through diet. I can train better and I will fight better.”
Later this month Hallman returns to the Octagon at UFC 117 to face the lanky and dangerous Ben Saunders, a fighter who has kayoed Brandon Wolff and Marcus Davis with knee strikes. Hallman knows that Saunders is a formidable opponent. “Ben is a big guy and good from the clinch,” he says. “Plus, he is a young, hungry fighter.”
For his part, Hallman is also hungry even though he has competed professionally since 1997 and compiled more than 40 wins in his career. “I’m really happy that I made it as far as I had with a disease that directly affects my ability to compete,” Hallman says. “It has caused many of the problems I’ve had in the sport. I don’t think the world has seen the best Dennis Hallman yet. I have much more to show.”
Hallman acknowledges that he has experienced the highs and lows in his lengthy career. Obviously, the two submissions wins over Hughes rank highly. “I’ll always beat Matt Hughes,” he says. “He can say whatever he wants but I submitted him twice in the first round in the opening minute.” The low point of his career he says is when he tested positive for steroids in 2007. “That was definitely my low mark; I was trying to heal my body quicker than I was supposed to.”
Hallman believes that he will compete in the 170-pound division rather than 155 pounds, though he acknowledges that his optimum weight would be somewhere in between those two classes at around 162 or 163. “I don’t think we should have as many weight divisions as boxing, but I do think we should have more than we do now.”
When asked whom he ranks as the best pound for pound, he says: “When motivated I think B.J. Penn is the best fighter in the world. I would also say Jake Shields and Anderson Silva – these guys haven’t lost in a while. I also would still rank Fedor very highly because everybody loses at some point in their career. It wasn’t a surprise to me that Werdum beat him, what would really be a surprise is if Werdum submitted him again.” Or like Hallman did to Matt Hughes.
The 34-year-old Hallman has set no timetable for how long he will compete professionally. “As long as I’m competitive I’ll keep fighting,” he says. “I’m excited that now I can actually compete and have recovery time. I will get out of the sport if I just become a stepping stone and can’t compete with the best in the world.”
More than anything, Hallman relishes the chance to return to the Octagon and prove that he belongs with the best. “The UFC represents the pinnacle of this sport and I’m going to do my best stay there and rise.”