Speaking from a warm Albuquerque, New Mexico, Mark Bocek took time out of his busy training schedule to discuss how things are going just a week away from his UFC lightweight debut against Frank Edgar, slated for July 7 in Sacramento, Calif.
The Canadian has been with Greg Jackson and his team of professional fighters for three weeks now, and said he got the inclination to travel there from countryman Georges St. Pierre, a training partner he respects.
"I was going down to Montreal to train with GSP and he recommended it to me," said the Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist. "Georges put in a good word for me and I gave Greg a call and then I went down."
Bocek finds that the camp environment suits him very well so far.
"It's going really good -- it's a really good camp; there's lots of good guys to battle with every day. They're helping me with my whole game, even jiu-jitsu," he said, quite a proclamation from last year's winner of the Abu Dhabi Combat Club submission-grappling North American trials.
His daily activities in New Mexico include a wake-up time of around 9:30 a.m., then sparring with takedowns, conditioning, kickboxing, and running in the mountains and sand dunes. Twice a day, five days a week, Bocek trains late into the night.
Mark said that the whole group at Jackson's are great, but he has grown especially tight with light heavyweight Rashad Evans, who is in the middle of preparing for his own bout against Tito Ortiz the same evening Bocek faces Edgar.
"He's looking really ready, and he's going to take it to him," Bocek said of Evans' chances against Ortiz.
When MM-eh! first spoke with Bocek several months ago, he announced that the UFC was a destination he set for himself from a young age, but did he truly expect it to happen in his fifth pro fight?
"Yeah, I thought it was possible," he said. "I want to fight the best guys, and to do that you have to go to the UFC. I knew it would happen at some point, so I've always kind of been ready for it in the back of my mind."
Bocek said his manager, Mary Oliveira, set up the whole deal for him. "I deal with the UFC in the same fashion that I deal with all other organizations," she said. "I got in touch with them and they decided to have Mark fight. I think part of the success of any deal with any MMA organization is based on the credentials of the fighter. I just did my part as a manager."
Edgar is coming off an incredibly exciting unanimous decision victory over Tyson Griffin that some have labeled the fight of the year, but this doesn't daunt Bocek in the least.
"He's a tough guy and a good wrestler," said the Canadian lightweight. "But it's not a wrestling match -- it's a fight, and I look forward to testing myself against him."
In addition, Bocek doesn't feel the need to replicate a "Fight of the Year" contender, claiming, "I hope it's not the fight of the year, because then it'll have to be a close fight, you know? I'm planning to finish him."
How does he plan to finish Edgar?
"It's hard to make a prediction in a fight," Bocek said, "but I'll find a way to win."
Patrick Cote on Kendall Grove and his return to the UFC
After Patrick Cote's successful venture against Jason Day at TKO 29, the rough and tumble French-Canadian has been invited to make a UFC return when he'll meet Kendall Grove at UFC 74, Aug. 25 in the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
MM-Eh! spoke to "The Predator" in the middle of him throwing a house-warming party to show off his new Montreal home to family and friends.
"It's a good fight for me," said the middleweight. "Maybe Kendall thinks it will be an easy fight for him, but everybody knows that I'm better than my record in the UFC, and I'll be ready for sure."
"I'm going to train like a dog for this fight," he stated emphatically.
Cote feels like he has a lot to prove to the UFC. Though his last outing in that organization was a unanimous decision victory over Scott Smith at UFC 67, Smith was invited back almost immediately, but Cote was told by UFC matchmaker Joe Silva to go and win a "fair and square" victory at a smaller show.
Cote admits that his performance in that win was a little more tentative than usual, but that was due to a combination of respect for Smith's power, as well as his feeling that he had to win at any cost. Cote, like many others, is very aware that regardless of how many fights they have remaining in their contracts, the UFC can and does reevaluate after every match.
"I needed this win very bad, so that's why I stayed with my game plan and was trying to go in and out," he recalled. "The win was the important thing for me in this fight."
Considering how the Californian knocked out Pete Sell with one punch when he appeared to be down for the count, Cote also admitted that he had been wary about a seemingly wounded Smith.
"Yeah, I was very calm in this fight, and when I rocked him in the second round, for sure I thought about that," Cote said. "Everybody saw what he did against Pete Sell. So even though I rocked him, he still has that very heavy right hand."
Cote has continued his jiu-jitsu training with BTT Canada leader Fabio Holanda, but to prepare for this fight he has expanded his efforts by heading south to spend time with former TUF coach Mark DellaGrotte at his Boston based Sityodtong USA Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts Academy.
Patrick said that DellaGrotte has helped him a lot, and he realizes that getting ready for an opponent as tall as the 6-foot-6 Grove presents a challenge.
"I respect a lot Kendall Grove; I think he has a lot of skill, and he's improved himself every time he fought, but I think I will be more angry than him. Another thing I say is that his coach wasn't able to finish me, so I can't see him do it," said Cote, referring of course to Tito Ortiz, whom he took the distance in his first ever UFC appearance in 2004.
Cote won't be the only Canadian on this card, as fellow French-Canadian training partner Georges St. Pierre will make an appearance against Josh Koscheck in his first bout since losing the UFC welterweight championship to Matt Serra.
Although Cote said that being on the same card as his friend is exciting, it's not something that he's thinking about too much.
"Every fight is important for you," he said. "Fighting on the same card as Georges is exciting, and it's good that two Canadians are fighting on the same card. We train together sometimes, but we each have our own job to do."
On Aug. 25 Patrick Cote has one goal in mind: "With this fight everybody will see what the real 'Predator' can do."
Hardcore Championship Fighting coming to Edmonton
Hardcore Championship Fighting CEO Keith Crawford revealed exclusively to Sherdog.com that his organization is three weeks away from conducting its first self-promoted event, and it will take place in Edmonton's River Cree Resort and Casino on July 21.
Up until now, HCF has provided MMA content to The Score television network by showcasing fights from various Canadian events such as APEX and Rumble in the Cage. So far, HCF's debut card looks to be off on the right track.
The scheduled main event will pit former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez against Ron Waterman. Crawford wanted to clarify that both camps have the contracts in hand and have agreed to terms, but as yet haven't signed.
The co-main event will provide a terrific opportunity to Lethbridge's Dan Chambers, as he'll get a chance to test his heavy hands against veteran Joe Riggs.
Chambers said that he's ready.
"It's a sweet fight for me," said the Canadian middleweight. "The way I look at it is I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. If I go in there and beat him that will surely open a lot of doors for myself and my teammates I would think. He is as good as they get and I am looking forward to this."
Chambers will be joined on this card by his Canadian Martial Arts Centre teammates Jordan Mein and Tim Tamaki -- but maybe not by Jason Day, who said he's likely headed to the UFC, possibly as soon as September.
Also fighting, said Crawford, will be Sarah Kaufman, who is signed to a six-fight exclusive deal with HCF. She's currently undefeated with a tally of 5-0 and is fresh off a victory over Valerie Letourneau at TKO 29 in June.
Edmonton mixed martial arts fans are among the luckiest in the country, having three major organizations putting on events there. In addition to HCF, they also have Maximum Fighting Championships and King of the Cage.
Finally, Crawford revealed that he plans on having a card every six weeks, and the next one is already scheduled for Aug. 18 in Vancouver.
Joe Doerksen's got a seminar
MM-Eh! attended Joe Doerksen's seminar at FitPlus in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, this weekend. The middleweight imparted a lot of great practical knowledge to a score of inquisitive minds, including TJ Grant and upcoming KOTC Canada participant Ryan McKenna.
Doerksen is a terrific guy who lived up to his reputation of being as down to earth as he is skilled. After this weekend he'll be heading home to Winnipeg, and then almost immediately he'll drive down to Utah in time to make the American Independence Day celebrations with his friend and training partner Jeremy Horn.
Ultimate Cage Wars 9 announced
UCW co-promoter Krzysztof Soszynski announced that the next installment of his popular Winnipeg based event is scheduled for Sept. 7.
Andy Cotterill covers mixed martial arts in Canada for Sherdog.com.