Story & photos by Chris Cozzone
He may joke a lot, take chances with weight loss and spend too much time on the Internet watching YouTube, but when it comes to throwing down in the cage, Dale Hartt is about as serious as . . . well, a Hartt attack.
The born-and-bred Bangor banger, 6-1, slated to fight June 13 at UFC 99 against the rugged German Dennis Siver, 13-6, has recently joined up with the Greg Jackson camp in Albuquerque, N.M.
“I still consider myself Team Irish,” says Hartt. “My heart and soul is still there, though I may be here physically.
“Team Irish are a bunch of tough guys like to pound. With them, Jiu-Jitsu is for losers – they prefer to side mount, then beat someone’s face in.”
Hartt fought most of his fights under coach Marcus Davis, and Team Irish, including his first UFC bout at “Fight Night 14.”
Against Shannon Gugerty, that night in Houston, Hartt suffered his first loss when he was taken out by a rear naked choke hold in round one.
“I learned the hard way,” says Hartt. “Before I knew what was going on, I’d given up my back, and it was over.
“It showed me I had some holes in my game.”
After Gugerty, Hartt came west, to Las Vegas, where he currently resides with his girlfriend and son. Five months later he was back on a UFC card, defeating Corey Hill in round two with a bizarre TKO.
“It was sick, man,” says Hartt. “He kicked my leg and his … just shattered. I remember my reaction. He went down and we were just staring at each other. He was yelling – I wasn’t gonna jump on him and wail him in the face when his leg was just … hanging there. His foot was touching his knee, just hanging.
“That adrenaline buzz you get in the cage? Gone. It killed that. I didn’t even feel like having a beer after.”
Though he won, Hartt says that training did not go especially well. A couple weeks before the fight, Hartt ended up in the hospital for three days with a lung infection – what’s worse, he came out seven pounds heavier.”
“I felt terrible that night, especially in the first,” recalls Hartt. “But when I sat down on the stool between rounds, I suddenly woke up and was ready to go.
Hartt was cornered by Greg Jackson that night, and he was instantly impressed. Afterward, he got the invite to come train in New Mexico.
“What a cool guy,” Hartt says of Jackson. “There’s no one like him out there.”
The master plan, says Hartt, is to go back and forth between Las Vegas and Albuquerque.
“I’ll work on everything physical in Vegas,” he says. “Then come here to train for a specific fight. It’ll be technique there, sparring here.
“It’s better to be away from my family this close to a fight, anyway. My girl, she goes bonkers. It’s like, ‘You okay, you okay?’ Insane. So, off I go . . . . It’s motivation, anyway. Makes me want to see them that much more when I go back.”
Hartt won’t be back in Vegas until after UFC 99, after facing Siver on the Wanderlai Silva-Rich Franklin headliner in Cologne, Germany. His opponent will have hometown advantage.
“I’m not worried about 13,000 fans cheering for Siver,” says Hartt. “Because I’ll . . . uhh, well, I’ll have four cheering for me. Maybe I’ll get them microphones, or pass out beer to the Germans if they scream my name.”
Hartt expects a war in Germany.
“Siver is a good boxer, just a tough, tough guy, and very physical,” says Hartt. “I just hope he doesn’t fight like a chump and try to take me down.”
Ironically, Siver has been training in Las Vegas, at Xtreme Couture, which is just a mile away from Hartt’s house.
“He just had to invade my territory . . . well, I’ll be invading his next week. He’ll take a beating.”
After Siver, Hartt hopes to take it one fight – one win – at a time.
“I just plan on winning,” he says. “Winning this, getting another, winning that, then just keep on going. See how far I can get.”
As far as challenging the champion at his weight, Hartt has no delusions about his current skill level.
“Fight my idol B.J. Penn?” asks Hartt. “I’m definitely not ready yet for that.
“Sure, I’d like to be champion some day, but, in the end, I just hope they talk about me and say, ‘Dale Hartt? Man, he had some great fights!’”