For Dale Hartt, it has become the shot seen round the world.
The video still, photograph or video clip has already evoked as many — if not more — gasps, winces and cries of horror than that of Joe Theismann’s leg being broken by NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor during a 1985 regular-season game.
“Man, it’s been crazy. This has been one of the most-watched fights in UFC history because of the injury,” said Hartt.
“The injury” is the broken leg suffered by Hartt’s opponent, Corey Hill, in the second bout of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s UFC Fight Night 16: Fight for the Troops benefit Wednesday night in Fayetteville, N.C. Hartt checked Hill’s leg kick with a shin block 20 seconds into the second round and Hill’s shin was snapped and both bones broken in his lower right leg.
“Both his bones were broken clean. He had some tendons flopping around, too, and he still tried to put some weight on it after,” said the 5-foot-11, 156-pound Hartt.
It was Hartt’s first victory in the mixed-martial arts UFC octagon, but he can think of many other more preferable ways to even his record at 1-1.
“It’s not funny, but I’ve been joking that I’m no longer Dale Hartt. I’m the guy who broke Corey Hill’s leg,” the 29-year-old Bangor native said.
The UFC has reported that the 6-4, 155-pound Hill will be out of action at least 18 months after surgery. For Hartt, the prognosis is more like five to six months — before he fights again. That’s fine with him.
“Right now I’m healing up. I have a slight tear in the LCL [lateral collateral ligament] of my knee and a small issue with my neck [disc],” Hartt said. “I’m hungry, though. I’m ready to go back to the gym and train hard.”
The event itself was especially meaningful to Hartt, a former communications officer in the U.S. Navy.
“I think I was one of five fighters with military experience,” Hartt said. “They gave most of the tickets to troops and being able to fight and help raise over $4 million for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund was great.
“I think the thing that affected me the most was hearing about some of the injuries these guys suffered, but a lot of them still had really positive attitudes. It’s very humbling. It made me kind of take stock of things that I thought were things worth complaining about before.”
Hartt said he gave away almost 400 T-shirts and signed more than 1,100 autographs.
“You have no idea,” he said. “[Bangor native] Marcus Davis fought at Miramar Marine [Corps Air Station] and I saw the craziness first hand. Those guys love the UFC, especially Marines.”
Over the last five months, it has been quite a reversal of fortune for Hartt, who had an inauspicious UFC debut in July when he lost via a first-round submission to Shannon Gugerty.
“Yeah, I’ve joked with everybody that I had to drive this far to get my butt kicked,” Hartt said. “Actually, it was good. I needed to get bashed around.”
Hartt has totally immersed himself in his training, going so far as to move girlfriend Ashley Joler and son Orion out to Las Vegas to live for the time being. He’s also spending at least six hours a day in the gym, where he has become friendly with former New York Yankee and current free agent first base-man Jason Giambi.
“I’m buying a house out here,” said Hartt. “This isn’t where I want to live, but there’s just a lot of opportunity out here and this is fight central.”
Hartt is so focused on limiting distractions he no longer has a cell phone.
“I lost it off the top of my car four months ago and I really don’t miss it,” he said. “I don’t see a cell phone in my foreseeable future. It’s just so hard for me to keep up with people.”
Hartt’s having all he can do keeping up with his training and rapidly changing future.
“The UFC guys have been really excited and happy with me and they’re talking about the next fight, but it’s way too early to know when or who it’ll be against,” he said. “I went out Saturday night and me and my girl got to sit cageside for a UFC fight and then went out with [UFC fighters] Diego Sanchez and Ryan Bader afterward. Everywhere I went, they gave me a table and a bottle. I think I spent $35 the whole night.”