It's a good thing for Mark Bocek that he fights at 155. A couple divisions up or down and it becomes much harder to find last minute fill-ins, especially only one week out from fight night. But, that's what Bocek has. After Evan Dunham was forced out of their bout at the TUF Nations Finale on April 16th, the UFC went out and snapped up recent featherweight (and previously lightweight) competitor Mike De la Torre. Bocek announced the news via Twitter.
Who is Mike De La Torre?
Hailing from the MMA Lab, home of Ben Henderson, Alex Caceres, and Joe Riggs among many others, 27 year old De La Torre certainly has a top camp around him for his UFC debut. He's almost eight years into his career right now, but has only 15 pro fights, carrying an overall record of 12-3. His losses have all come by submission, and to a fairly uninspiring level of competition, but most of his wins are over solid prospects and regional vets and he hasn't lost since early 2012 when he took fights in back to back nights and dropped the second one.
What you should expect:
De La Torre is a dynamic striker, he throws with power and has great timing on his strikes. He's very comfortable on his feet and shows it by mixing in flying knees with more conventional combinations. He's not a big kicker, and this may be because his takedown defense isn't all that great. He's not unwilling to shoot on opponents, himself, but seems to have trouble consistently defending takedowns and/or giving up top position. To his credit he seems to have pretty excellent endurance and an aggressive grappling game when he gets the opportunity to use it, but against wrestlers and grapplers who don't tire, or who take good opportunity of advantageous position, De La Torre may continue to struggle.
What this means for his debut:
This all depends on where you think Bocek is as a UFC talent right now. Nine years into his career and he's really only ever lost to the best lightweights in the division. The rest of the pack, he tends to be able to overwhelm, if not quite dominate. Frankly, given De La Torre's tendency to give up position, and Bocek's well honed wrestling and grappling skills, this is going to be a pretty tough fight for the newcomer. If he's cautious he could last to the final bell, but if he gets sloppy, Bocek will very likely make him pay.
To get us better acquainted, here's De La Torre's last fight against Cameron Ramberg (fight starts at 3:27:37):