TheGARV Exclusives



Many questions have arisen on how to interpret MMA's unified rules.  One of the most respected, knowledgeable, and experienced players in the MMA game is "Counsel to the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board", Nick Lembo, who also played a key role in the development and institution of the unified rules in 2001.

In the interview with Mr. Lembo below, we address topics such as how a takedown is intended to be scored, how avoiding a takedown compares to being successful with one (since each technique is listed under the effective grappling category), our opinions on how the Ryan Bader vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira fight and round one of Javi Vasquez vs. Chad Mendes was scored, and several other random musings on the state of modern day judging in the sport of mixed martial arts.

DW:  Give me your personal report card on the current state of MMA judging in America?

NL:  I can say that I am pretty happy with the state of MMA judging in New Jersey. I believe that the key to building better judges in this new sport is to start them in a commission-run amateur program and monitor their progress at each event. They are then afforded the opportunity to "shadow judge" at professional events while also being provided with seminars and discussion topics via e-mail.

I believe that if commissions get more involved in their amateur programs, they will develop better judges. I still firmly believe that you need a background in martial arts, preferably submission grappling and Muay Thai, and that you should not utilize boxing judges.

DW:  Since I had some strong feelings on the decision, how did you score the Bader vs. Nogueira fight from UFC 119?

NL:  As a fan watching on television, I scored round one for Bader 10-9,  round two 10-10, and round three 10-9 for Nogueira. It was a close fight in the second and third rounds.   Everyone expected a tough fight with Julia Budd. Were you surprised to finish it so early?

Amanda Nunes: Not really because the game plan was to come out and swarm all over her.  My coaches researched a lot of her Muay Thai fights and didn't think she could fight going backwards. This was a huge opportunity for me and the biggest fight of my life.  I wanted to go out there and make a statement.  I have a lot of faith in my hands and I know the power in have in them.

Garv:  Do you think you will fight Cyborg this year?

Nunes: Probably not. I still have a lot of work to do. I'm only 22 years old and have only been training MMA for only 3 years.  I know my time will come to fight her.  She is my ultimate goal but it has to be done in steps.  Julia Budd was step number one.

Garv:  When do you think you might be ready for Cyborg?

Nunes: I feel like I'm about a year away.  I need to tighten some things up and then I will be ready.  I don't think Cyborg has had ever had to deal with the aggressiveness and power that I will bring to her.  It will be a very exciting fight for the fans.  I look forward to it.

Garv: How will you prepare for her?

Nunes: I came into this fight with Julia at 143 lbs and I didn't have to cut any weight. When I fight Cyborg I need to bulk up.  I need to put some more muscle of my body so Cyborg won't have an advantage like she has had with all these other girls that she has fought.

Imre Gams: Hi Mark, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I first want to congratulate you on your victory over Dustin Hazelett at UFC 124 . That was a highly technical and entertaining fight, and it's easy to see how you're improving every time we see you step into the Octagon. When the Dustin Hazelett matchup was announced, what I was most interested in was to see how Dustin's Rubber Guard game would matchup against your more traditional style. In past fights, we've seen Dustin's fluid use of the Rubber Guard, and he's always looked comfortable off his back. In the actual fight however, it looked like you had little trouble in passing his guard and securing mount. Was this something you specifcally prepared for in camp?

Mark Bocek: Yeah, it was something I addressed specifically, but people have to remember that he's a great fighter and a great Jiujitsu player, but all his highlight reel submissision finishes were basically against guys where their weakest area is Jiujitsu. I train with a lot of guys who are really good at Rubber Guard, so I'm comfortable there and I know where not to make the mistakes, because with a guy like Dustin if you do make that little mistake there, he's gonna put you in that triangle or that omoplata because he does have a really good Rubber Guard.

Imre Gams: Right, because in that fight he did attempt to go for the omoplata, but you defended it really well.

Mark Bocek: Yeah, he had that good overhook and wrist control, and I could feel he had good grips there, and if I didn't do something he'd throw something up, or that omoplata would get a little deeper. I was able to stuff that one butterfly hook before he pulled his leg in front of my face so I managed to pass. But he's got a good guard, he's dangerous.

Imre Gams: My next question is whether you can confirm that things are in the works to match you up against Ben Henderson.

Mark Bocek: Not exactly in the works, more like confirmed 100%. UFC 129, main card.

Imre Gams: How do you feel about the fight? Ben's proven himself to be a well-rounded and tough guy, with great skills on the ground.

Mark Bocek: I like it. Definitely a big opportunity. Former WEC Champ. Last fight was a loss, but I think he won 10 fights in a row before that so… I've studied him a little bit, not a lot. He seems to be the WEC's version of Clay Guida. Not the best with the hands, but good wrestler, good cardio, good at avoiding the submissions, little taller than Clay. But you know, I mean I don't think he really has any one area that outshines mine. From now till then, I'm just going to do everything in my power to improve and get ready for him.


It's rare to find a competitor with 65 professional MMA fights stemming back to 1996 still actively competing in MMA.  It's even more unique to find that same fighter not only in the world's biggest and best MMA promotion, but still racking up wins.  Enter Dennis "Superman" Hallman:  karate aficionado; Yelm, Washington native; two-time submission victor over legend Matt Hughes; active and legitimate threat to anyone on the UFC's impressive roster of welterweights.

Currently surfing a 9-2 wave, the last two being impressive wins over solid 170-pounders Ben Saunders and Karo Parisyan, I caught up with Dennis Hallman to discuss how the realization and treatment of Celiac disease has affected his performance, his infatuation with "Cowboy Karate", his rough and tumble days of street-fighting in his hometown, whether he was the curious man in the mask at a recent TUF tryout, and what the future holds.


He is the captain of the Brazilian Top Team (BTT).  He is the former UFC Middleweight champion who submitted Matt Lindland twice in one fight.  He is one of the most respected and revered icons in the sport.  He is, quite simply, a legend and a pioneer in mixed martial arts.

I hope you enjoy this interview with Murilo Bustamante, which was a true honor for me to conduct.  Murilo discusses how the sale of Pride Fighting Championships affected his career and MMA overall, his relationship with the UFC and why he chose to leave to fight overseas, his toughest fights and the fighters he admires most, and why he thinks he's maintained such a special position within the hearts of hardcore MMA fans.

DW:  You were consistently active in MMA up until Pride FC was sold, after which you were absent for some time.  Can you explain how the UFC’s purchase of Pride affected your career?

MB:  When Pride was sold my contract was already finished, so I didn’t have any fights remaining. The problem about Pride being sold was that the UFC didn’t keep making the show and they couldn’t keep all the fighters, because the UFC already had a lot of fighters.

Then, they dismissed some of the Pride fighters, and some of them were from BTT.  We had at least two BTT fighters fighting on each Pride show, which was perfect for our team.  The best part about having two big shows like Pride and UFC was that the fighters had more options, because there were two big and different markets of MMA:  Japan and USA.

At only 26, Ben Askren has already reached the pinnacle of amateur wrestling and less than two years removed from his professional mixed martial arts debut, is widely regarded by many as one of the sport’s most gifted prospects—but the Cedar Rapids, Iowa native isn’t nearly done yet.

One of the most accomplished grapplers to ever enter mixed martial arts, Askren is a two-time NCAA National Champion as a wrestler at the University of Missouri, competed in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China and despite only taking up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu two months after the Games in 2008, has earned a brown belt, to boot.

Since turning professional in early-2009, Askren has compiled a perfect record of seven wins with no losses en route to both winning the inaugural Bellator welterweight tournament and claiming the jump-start organization’s 170 pound championship with a dominant five-round decision victory over Lyman Good at Bellator 33.

Although Askren has only been a professional for less than two years, the man they call “Funky” is confident that he is destined to be one of the greats.

“Sure, I’m at the beginning of my career, so I still feel like a prospect.  I was born ready—whoever they throw me in the cage with I will be ready to fight,” explained Askren, “My goal is to be the best fighter in the world, and not just a champ of an organization—I never really thought about (winning a championship), I just wanted to improve and continually get better.”

Amanda Nunes, aka The Lioness of the Ring, may not be a household name yet, but if she beats Julia Budd at the Strikeforce Challengers show in Nashville on January 7th, people will definitely sit up and take notice.  Nunes is 5-1 in her MMA career, with her only loss coming in her very first fight.  Since then the Brazilian fighters has racked up five straight wins, all of them by TKO.

She faces her biggest test in Julia Budd on January 7th.  Budd is a former Muay Thai fighter--the only one to beat Gina Carano in Muay Thai--who is known for her striking.  This match up is sure to be explosive, as well it should be, because there is so much at stake.  The winner will more than likely get a title shot against Christine Cyborg, so expect this one to end inside the distance.

I interviewed Amanda Nunes recently.  Here is the transcript: How is your training going for your fight with Julia Budd at Strikeforce on January 7?

Amanda Nunes: My training is good. I miss my trainers in Brazil because we have spent so much time together and I wish they could experience America and Strikeforce with me.  But the actual training in New Jersey is very good.  Much more structure and a better facility.  I am training at Team Carvalho in Paterson and at Martial Maxx MMA in Teterboro with my master Sensei Edson Carvalho.  New Jersey has very good boxing and wrestling, but there are more blackbelts in Brazil for jujitsu (laughs). What do you expect for this fight?

Amanda Nunes: I expect a very tough fight. Julia Budd is a Muay Thai Champion and the only person to beat Gina Carano in Muay Thai. She is bigger than me and has great striking but I think my overall MMA skills will get me the victory.  But I expect a war with me stopping her at some point in the fight Assuming you win this fight, you could be fighting Cyborg next. What do you think about her?

Amanda Nunes: I think Cyborg is a awesome fighter and she is a great champion.  My focus is on this fight because without a win here then I will never fight Cyborg.  But I see Cyborg as the ultimate goal.  When I reach her then I know that all my work and sacrifice has paid off and I will go in there to take the belt.  I believe her other opponents went into the fight scared and fought not to get hurt.  I will bring the fight to her and let her deal with my pressure. Who are some of your favorite fighters?

Amanda Nunes: Cain Velasquez is my favorite.  He has no weakness and he has the right mindstate for fighting. I also love to watch Jacare, Anderson Silva, Vitor Belfort and of course Wanderlei Silva. I  love to watch fight videos and take the best from each fighter. Anything else you'd like to say before you go?

I would like to thank all my family in NJ and Brazil and all my sponsors and coaches.  Please watch me on Jan7th on Showtime.  You won’t be disappointed!

Edson Mendes Jr., also known as Edson Barboza, is one of the most electrifying up and coming fighters in the sport.  He is undefeated at 7-0 and made his UFC debut last month against Mike Lullo.  He stopped Lullo with his famed leg kicks, which had also stopped his previous opponent, Marcelo Giudici, at Ring of Combat 30 back in June of this year.  I had the pleasure of watching Edson fight at two ROC shows, and I knew right away that he was going to be a big star in the sport of mixed martial arts.  In fact, he was our Featured Up and Comer back in July before signing with the UFC.

I interviewed Edson today, and got his take on being in the UFC, making the transition from Muay Thai to MMA, and on his upcoming opponent at UFC 128, Anthony Njokuani. How did you feel fighting at the UFC after only 6 pro fights?

Edson Mendes Jr.: I felt very well.  I was very well prepared physically and psychologically, and it was one more day’s work.  I didn’t feel any pressure on me, and when the cage door is closed it is like any fight that I ever fought before.  The pressure is outside of the cage.  It was a great experience for me. Did the fight go as you planned?

Edson Mendes Jr.: I had planned to do a good job and to do my game in the cage, and thanks God it happened. What did you think about the Pettis kick at WEC 53?

Edson Mendes Jr.:  I think it was fantastic.  It was really nice for sure. You moved to the USA and are now training at the Armory.  You started out as a Muay Thai fighter.  How is your ground game coming along?

Edson Mendes Jr.: My ground game has been coming along really well.  I have been training five days a week on my ground game for the last two years.  I moved to the US in January of 2009.  I did some ground in Brazil, but not nearly what was required of me to be able to fight at the UFC level.   I have the great benefit of training with my team mate Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida who this past year has won the Worlds, Mundials and Pan Ams as a Black belt....also our head BJJ Coach, Rodrigo Cavaca who has the won the Worlds, Europeans, Mundials and a list of other titles as a blackbelt.

It is important to note that my MMA team understands there is a huge difference between BJJ/Submission Grappling and BJJ for MMA. My 2 main ground coaches, Raphael Chaves and Eduado Guedes, really work with me on making sure that my BJJ is converted correctly for MMA. This is so important as just because a person is a worlds class BJJer dos not mean that they will be a world class MMA fighter.


Time is a funny thing.  It seems as if just yesterday we eagerly awaiting the match-up between Josh Koscheck and Paul Daley to discover who would go on to fight Georges St. Pierre for the UFC Welterweight Championship.  Now we are in the aftermath of the Daley’s vicious knockout over Scott “Forehead Defense” Smith at the memorable Strikeforce card in St. Louis.  I recently caught up with Paul to reflect on the victory, get to the bottom of the reasoning behind calling out a lightweight, and much more.


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