While one Bostonian, Kenny Florian, bowed out and retired from the UFC this past week, another has officially entered the scene.  Joe Proctor, a native of Pembroke, Mass., and a recent Ultimate Fighter alum, burst onto the professional scene with the promotion after landing a huge knockout against Jeremy Larsen.

“I think Kenny kind of brought us all up,”  Proctor told The MMA Corner at Cage Fighting Xtreme 20 in Plymouth, Mass.  “He was on The Ultimate Fighter and he showed us all what you can become from being on the show.  He led the way for us, and it’s a good feeling to know that you can come off of The Ultimate Fighter and have a career like he had.  It’s a great feeling.”

After spending 13 weeks in Las Vegas, Proctor had been back home in Massachusetts for only a week.  When he was asked about what it was like to be back at a local show in a town where he had fought in comparison to the bright lights of Las Vegas, he claimed that he was still the same guy.  Proctor was very open and welcoming to all of the fans at the show, posing for pictures and signing autographs while he was there to support two of his fellow Lauzon MMA fighters who were competing on the card.

“I’m the type of guy that doesn’t get all glamorous with the lights and all the cameras,” Proctor confessed.  “I am who I am, and I showed it on the show and I’m glad I did.  Just meeting everybody, all of the new faces here, and people coming up and congratulating me, it’s an unbelievable feeling having all that support after being gone for 13 weeks.”

But the fifteenth season of the show didn’t start without controversy.  It was discovered that one of the 32 fighters that were invited to the UFC gym with a chance to fight their way onto the show had previously been involved with gay pornography.  While Dakota Cochrane’s presence at the gym may have bothered some, it didn’t bother the Team Faber fighter.

“I looked at him as a fighter,” Proctor explained.  “I didn’t look at him as what he did in the past.  People do things when they’re in tight situations and whatever he did, that’s on him, that’s behind the scenes.  But him as a fighter?  He’s a great fighter.  He has some good wins behind him and he has a long future.  He’s a young, talented fighter.”

Proctor had the good fortune of having the first fight on the inaugural live show.  Because of that slot, he had the opportunity to watch all of the fights that followed and scout all of the action.  He got to take in his future opponents through Chris Tickle’s 24-second technical knockout of Austin Lyons and James Vick’s split decision victory over Cochrane, in a fight which the Bostonian thought should have gone the other way.

Tickle turned out to be one of the more polarizing figures in the house.  His coach, Dominick Cruz, said early and often that Tickle needed to improve his attitude because he has a lot of the skills necessary to be a top fighter, but he slacks off and doesn’t work to his potential.  Proctor doesn’t see it that way.

“Tickle is a very good fighter,” said Proctor.  “He’s very well rounded and when he fought (Daron) Cruickshank in the finale, he freakin’ gave it 100 percent.  He looked great against a very good opponent.

“And him as a person?  I liked him.  We got along on the show the whole time.  Sure, we had our differences, but for the most part he was a great guy and a great fighter.  I think he’ll definitely go a long way.”

However, Proctor acknowledged that Tickle did have that goofy side to him, “Tickle getting me with my own water… I think that was definitely a good prank.”

After defeating Tickle by first-round submission, Proctor went on to lose by unanimous decision against Vick, the same fighter who he thought lost the split decision to Cochrane on day one.  The Cochrane decision wasn’t the only one that the Team Faber fighter felt went the wrong way, as he thought he did enough versus Vick to have the fight go to a third round.

“I think I absolutely would have had that fight if there was a third round,” Proctor stated.

“He definitely had the first round, and he hit me with some jabs. But in the second round I had a takedown, I got a submission attempt, he got the takedown off of my submission attempt, but I got right back up and hit him with a couple good right hands,”  Proctor recalled.  “I thought it was 1-1, but that’s the thing with The Ultimate Fighter and the two rounds.  It’s kind of a good thing and a bad thing at times, but if it went to a third, I think I would have had it.  He does have good takedown defense, but I could feel him wilting away in the second and if it went to the third I feel like I would have been able to easily take him down and submit him.”

Proctor celebrates victory (Zuffa, LLC)

Proctor didn’t let the loss ruin the rest of his time on the show, however, as he trained hard and knew that he would eventually get another fight at the show’s finale. There, he handled his opponent rather easily.  Even though he realizes the depth of talent currently contained within the lightweight division makes for a crowded path to the top, he has no plans of fighting in any other weight class.

“The lightweight division is stacked, but I’m a natural lightweight,” Proctor said.  “I cut a good amount of weight to make 155, so I’m staying here because it’s where I belong.  Now I have to wait and see what Joe Silva and my managers and Dana (White) say.  As soon as they want me to fight, I’m ready to fight.”

When Proctor stepped on the scale in the house after Tickle was revealed as his opponent, he weighed 175 pounds, which left him to cut 19 pounds.

“I can’t make anything less than ’55!” he declared.

When he joked about his weight, you could see a natural, fun side come out of the fighter who had arrived home within the last week.

While in the TUF house, one of the funnier things that took place for viewers during the show was when Ronda Rousey visited to watch UFC 145 with the cast.  Proctor spilled the beans on the attitudes of the fighters towards the Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champion, and that it was properly represented to the viewing audience.

“When we found out that Ronda Rousey was training with Cruz’s team, all the single guys back at the house were saying, ‘I can’t wait to see her, I’m going to talk to her’ and literally when she walked in, not one person that was single said anything to her.  It was definitely crickets, so they didn’t play that off differently.”

With the victory over Larsen, Proctor improved his record to 9-1 and feels as though he solidified his spot in the UFC.  Considering the lack of depth in Strikeforce, the lightweight fighter wouldn’t jump to Zuffa’s other promotion if he was asked to go.

“With that finale fight, I think I earned and secured my way into the UFC,” admitted Proctor.  “If I lost that finale fight and they asked me to fight in Strikeforce, I definitely would, but I earned and fought my way into a UFC contract.”

That isn’t just his opinion, but that of many people in the MMA community.  What they saw in the kid from Pembroke is a lot of potential, and it doesn’t end there.  Proctor sees himself training back home at Lauzon MMA, but wouldn’t be opposed to doing some cross training with coach Urijah Faber and Team Alpha Male here and there.

The open mind that he holds for where he is training is one of many factors that will propel him to a long career in the UFC, which is exactly what happened with Florian, a guy that Proctor has looked up to and modeled himself after.

Joe Proctor would like to thank Sucker Punch Athletics, stating that they have been with him since his second amateur fight and have stuck with him ever since.

Top Photo: Joe Proctor strikes a pose at Cage Fighting Xtreme 20 (Brian McKenna/The MMA Corner)

About The Author

Brian McKenna
Staff Writer

Brian McKenna was born and raised in the suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts. A sports nut from as long as he can remember, he came to be a fan of Mixed Martial Arts from a roommate watching The Ultimate Fighter while attending Westfield State College. Brian came to writing by starting his own blog, Four Down Territory, which focuses on Boston based sports, life, and of course MMA.