Dallas Winston. the Fighters Only man from Michigan, catches up with the long-time top-level fighter Dennis Hallman who among many achievements has a pair of lightning quick wins over Matt Hughes to his name.
FO: It's unique to find a veteran of the sport since 1996 with too many fights to keep track of quietly racking up wins against solid opponents on the undercard of a UFC in 2010.
Since we usually see more of a gradual decline in a fighter's career, it sounds like the adjustments you made after discovering you had Celiac disease played a big role.
Can you walk me through how you found out about it after the Howard fight?
DH: Well, I was really beginning to feel fatigued. I was sleeping like 14 to 16 hours a day, just feeling like I had no energy. I had taken so many tests over the last 8 or 9 years trying to find out what was wrong that I had practically given up on finding out.
I prayed to God to help me, went in for more tests and had almost zero testosterone, cortisol and DHEA in my body. My doctor referred me to a hormone specialist and after some more testing i was diagnosed with an Auto-Immune Disorder caused by Celiac disease.
FO: What specific changes you've made as a result?
DH: Well, I am on hormone replacement and I cut gluten out of my diet.
FO: Since you told Ariel Helwani that the difference is "night and day", how much of a resurgence are you planning? Would you say you're focused on rising to the top and/or pursuing the title?
DH: I just let things work themselves out. I will just go with the flow of the sport.
FO: You mentioned your faith as the biggest impetus for your success. Can you describe your pathway into religion and explain the different ways it's made you a better person and fighter?
DH: I have no religion, only faith in God through Jesus. It made me a better person by helping me try to walk the right path in life. It helped me become a better fighter by allowing me to understand that everything happens for a reason.
FO: You went out of your way to show respect to Karo Parisyan and acknowledge all of the great things he's accomplished after your win. Do you think that all the attention on his past problems was a little severe considering that we've seen even the most mentally and physically equipped fighters get caught early in a fight?
DH: Anyone can get caught just as Karo did, it's just part of our sport, that's why people like to watch. The thing is, most of us fighters are just as nervous as Karo, we just keep it to ourselves. A lot of us have similar problems; they are just not as public as Karo's problems.
FO: Has it dulled the luster of your victory for the way Karo seemed to be criticized more than you were given credit?
DH: I don't need people's credit; just as Karo doesn't need their criticism.
FO: Many years ago on the infamous Underground Forum, there was quite a discussion on your hometown of Yelm, Washington. I think I can get away with this, as I believe you posted this yourself, but you made a statment that you were no stranger to street-fighting in your youth because you "talked funny and played tennis". Tell me how accurate my memory is: did you post that, and did you find yourself in the occasional confrontation when you were younger?
DH: I think it was chess, but yes, I fought a lot as a kid. You see, when I was younger I had a problem with backing down from anyone. If you refuse to back down from people then you find yourself in a lot of fights.
FO: Another gem from the UG is your fascination with karate, which is ironic coming from a guy with 38 submission wins. Can you explain the karate thing?
DH: It really started off as a joke. Lance Gibson (former SEG era UFC fighter) used to always joke -- saying, "Karate just don't work" in response to a late 90's question about how MMA would stand up to karate. As a joke,when people asked what style we trained in, we would tell them "Cowboy Karate". It made us laugh.
FO: Another bit of gossip circulating about you is that you were the mysteriously masked Lucha Libre character that showed up at the TUF 10 tryouts. Confirm, deny, or plead the 5th?
DH: I heard that was a friend of mine by the name of ... Robin Phoenix!
FO: At age 35, you've been around the block and have gone 2-1 recently against solid welterweights. What do you think your major evolutions as a fighter were?
DH: Really, I am the same fighter that I was. I've just had cardio for my last two fights. I am a different person than I was a year ago though.
FO: What do you work on in the gym to keep improving?
DH: I really enjoy boxing and have improved leaps and bounds since training with Carlos Hernandez in boxing.
FO: What can we expect in the future? Do you have any specific opponents you'd like to face?
I can only prepare myself the best that I can for upcoming fights. I would like to fight the best in my weight class.
FO: The floor is all yours for any closing comments.
DH: Thanks to all of my trainers and training partners. Victory Athletics, Vision Quest, Team Quest, Brave Legion, AMC, London Shootfighters, and ATT. Eric Herrholz, my beautiful wife Brenda for putting up with me, and my parents for all of their help. Hello to Ryley, Richie, Jayden and Kylar.
May God Bless everyone.
Dennis Hallman spoke with Dallas Winston