Once upon a time, Dustin Hazelett and his coach Jorge Gurgel decided to check out a movie one day. The two took in Superbad, the hilarious 2007 comedy that introduced the world to Christopher Mintz-Plasse, an awkward, bespectacled high school student better known now as “McLovin,” the false name he chose for his fake ID (over Mohammed) and the instantaneous new nickname for Hazelett.
As popular as the character remains, Mintz-Plasse has moved on from McLovin. This past year, the 21-year-old Los Angeles native started in the film adaptation Kick-Ass as Red Mist, a civilian-turned-masked man who is set to be the main antagonist of Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Because it’s time for Dustin Hazelett to continue following in Mintz-Plasse’s filmography footsteps and become his own version of Red Mist.
Since this is MMA and not professional wrestling, Hazelett certainly won’t be entering the cage in a costume and offering up a salute to Jack Nicholson’s Joker anytime soon as Red Mist does at the close of Kick-Ass, but the lovable, boyish charm of Hazelett and McLovin need to be eschewed in favor of a more aggressive approach. There is a chance that his employment with the UFC depends on it.
While Hazelett is certainly a well-liked fighter amongst the fans – how can you not like a guy with a Grizzly Adams beard known as McLovin? – fan appreciation doesn’t translate into continuous employment, as his coach can attribute. Winning is what keeps you employed, and a loss to Rick Story would be two-in-a-row for the 24-year-old Kentuckian.
Truthfully, Hazelett has been a victim of bad timing and other people’s bad decision over the last couple of years. He put together back-to-back impressive submission wins over Josh Burkman and Tamdan McCrory back in 2008, but torn the ACL in his right leg while preparing to face Ben Saunders in 2009.
Just as he was readying to make his return to the cage against Karo Parisyan a full year after submitting McCrory, the now-exiled Armenian pulled his final UFC vanishing act, withdrawing from the fight two days before UFC 106. That left Hazelett without a dance partner and itching to return to action. Unfortunately, he chose the wrong person to step in against in his delayed return.
When Carlos Condit pulled out of his pairing with dangerous British striker Paul Daley, Hazelett stepped up. Less than two-and-a-half minutes after the opening bell, Hazelett was down for the count, falling victim to the vicious left hand that has earned Daley his explosive “Semtex” nickname.
Now Hazelett is looking at close to two years without a post-fight victory interview with Joe Rogan, and while an injury played a part in that timeline, the welterweight division is loaded with emerging talents that are eager to take Hazelett’s place in the pecking order.
In the preamble to this fight, Hazelett has stated that his ill-fated idea for the Daley fight was to make the former UFC fighter believe he was going to stand with him before taking him down, joking that he just didn’t get around to the second part of the plan in time. As amusing as it is, especially coming stone-faced from the mild-mannered, heavily-bearded Hazelett, the reality is that this fight could determine where he’s earning his keep for the foreseeable future.
Rick Story is a tough wrestler who has never been finished through thirteen career bouts, and enters on a three-fight winning streak. He is the type of young, hungry fighter that is eager to get some of the name brand opportunities Hazelett has been afforded in the past, and a victory here will be the biggest of his career.
As such, Hazelett needs to avoid any amusing gameplan ideas and come out equally hungry. Story’s wrestling base works in his favor, as Hazelett is exceptionally comfortable off his back and has a tremendous submission game that should be on full display here. This is a fight where Hazelett has to play to his strengths and spend the duration of the bout finding a way to force Story to make the choice between tap, snap or nap.
Chris Mintz-Plasse has moved on from McLovin and embraced a darker, more dangerous role as Red Mist.
It’s time for Dustin Hazelett to do the same.