March 29, 2008
Bocek's fight hits home
First stop: Montreal. Next stop: Toronto?
In the near future, Mark Bocek hopes to step into a cage in his hometown.
On that night, in an arena packed with friends and family, he will unload on the unfortunate fighter standing opposite.
Though Ontario is one of the last major holdouts in North America in sanctioning mixed-martial arts events, Bocek is confident his home province will soon come to its senses.
"It's disappointing," says Bocek, 26, about having to go out of province to earn a living as a fighter.
"MMA is exploding. It is understood to be a pretty safe sport, so I don't understand what the problem is. I know people who are talking with the (Ontario Athletic Commission) and say that (sanctioning) will happen soon."
Before the lightweight fighter realizes his dream of bringing the world's fastest-growing sport to Canada's largest province, he will help Canada make history at its inaugural UFC event in Montreal on April 19.
UFC 83, which will feature a welterweight title match between Montreal's Georges St. Pierre and champ Matt Serra, already stands as the fastest sellout in fight club history and will become the largest mixed-martial arts event to be held in North America once the 21,000-plus fans take their seats.
"It will be a historic event," says Bocek, who will take on The Ultimate Fighter 6 champ and former King of the Cage lightweight title-holder Mac Danzig at the sold-out Bell Centre.
"I will not lose in front of the Canadian fans," he says.
Bocek, who is training with Dan Henderson's Team Quest in Temecula, Calif., first fell in love with the sport after watching the legendary Royce Gracie fight four times in one night to win UFC 2.
Bocek immediately sought out training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
"I was doing karate at the time and it really opened my eyes," he recalls.
Bocek embarked on a journey that would earn him a black belt in BJJ and numerous accolades along the way. He is a three-time Pan American medallist in the sport, World Cup BJJ champ and five-time Canadian grappling champ. He now teaches BJJ.
The veteran of two UFC scraps -- a decision win over Douglas Evans and a TKO loss to Frankie Edgar -- has a pro record of 5-1.
Most of his wins have come by submission and he lists the rear-naked choke as his favourite way to end a fight.
Bocek has respect for his UFC 83 foe.
"I think he is a great fighter and a great challenge," he says of Danzig. "He seems to be pretty well-rounded. This is an excellent opportunity for me and I'm ready for war."