(‘I’m here to eat some hummus and kick some ass. I am all out of hummus.’)
Mac Danzig may be one of the most accomplished fighters yet to win Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t feeling the same pressure to live up to the hype that other winners have labored under. His submission victory over Mark Bocek on his first UFC pay-per-view this past Saturday was a good start to his UFC career, but Danzig is hoping that it’s just the beginning.
In this exclusive Cage Potato interview Danzig talks about the price of celebrity, about his future in the UFC’s lightweight division, and about his hard-fought victory in Montreal.
CagePotato.com: First of all, congratulations on your victory. Looking at this matchup beforehand, it seemed like you were a pretty heavy favorite, 5-1 according to some of the betting lines. Were you expecting Mark Bocek to be as tough as he was?
Yeah, I knew it would be a really tough fight. I thought it had potential to be tougher than it was. The betting lines don’t really mean anything to me and I try not to look at them. I was kind of pissed when I did see them, actually, because I thought to myself, ‘Man, they’re not giving this guy enough credit.’
It’s kind of a tough situation for me because everyone’s just expecting me to steamroll this guy. He didn’t have a big name and so people didn’t realize how tough he was. It’s really a no-win situation because people just expect me to win and if I don’t it really messes up my status in the sport. If I do win, it’s like, hey, no big deal. But I knew how tough he was. He and I have a common opponent, this guy named John Mahlow, and he took me to a decision while Mark Bocek submitted him in the first round. So I knew what he was capable of and I knew it was going to be a tough fight.
Toward the end of the fight when he was cut and his eye was swelling up pretty badly it looked like you were able to land the straight right at will, like he couldn’t see it coming at all. Was that something you noticed right away and did you try and exploit that?
When I first cut him with that knee and I saw how bad it was I thought there was a chance they might stop it because of the cut. But I wasn’t going to wait around for that to happen. I wanted to finish him. It was a pretty nasty cut, though. The blood was squirting about two feet out at one point, so I was thinking to circle to my right and stay on his left side where he might have trouble seeing.
When the doctors checked him out he got a little breather and he came back in there with a sense of desperation, trying to swing for the fences and get a knockout. I felt like I was on my way to setting up a pretty good knockout before they stopped it to look at the cut, but who knows.
Going into this fight – your first since winning The Ultimate Fighter – what was the pressure like? Were you feeling that burden of being a TUF winner?