Photo via Sherdog.
When C.B. Dollaway was first introduced to the UFC fan base on Spike's hit reality program The Ultimate Fighter, the former ASU wrestling standout was portrayed as an arrogant college graduate with the potential to have an extremely bright future in MMA. Fast forward nearly three years and the kid who spent six weeks vying for his chance to shine is gone and standing in his place is a 185 lb. man who is ready to make his mark in the UFC middleweight division. "The Doberman", who is currently riding a three fight win streak, has twice earned the "Submission of the Night" bonus with the most recent coming by way of a highlight reel finish guillotine against MMA veteran Joe Doerksen at UFC 119.
Up next for Dollaway is friend and former NCAA Division 1 Champion Mark Munoz. "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" recently defeated Aaron Simpson, one of Dollaway's closest friends, at UFC 123 in Detroit and now the two rising stars are set to collide at UFC on Versus 3 in March. The winner of this fight is guaranteed passage into the upper tier of the division and Dollaway knows that a victory in Louisville puts him into the contention mix. I recently caught up with C.B. and in his Bloody Elbow Exclusive interview Dollaway talked about his his upcoming fight with Mark Munoz and making a run at the title.
"I'm in full on camp for Mark Munoz," Dollaway began. "I've also been helping Ryan Bader get ready for his fight with Jon Jones coming up here on Feb 5th. So I've been going at it now for awhile and everything is going good."
The topic of friends facing one another in the octagon has been a hot button issue on the docket for UFC President Dana White for the past few years. When Dollaway's friend and business partner Aaron Simpson accepted a bout against his long time confidant Mark Munoz, many UFC fans paid close attention to both the outcome and the aftermath. Ultimately Munoz pulled off a hard fought victory and when the UFC announced that it was now Dollaway's turn to face Munoz, Dollaway pushed aside the alternate storylines and chose to focus on the task at hand.
"It was just one of those things," Dollaway replied when asked about facing a friend in open competition. "Not to take anything away from Mark, he won the fight and beat Aaron, but I wouldn't say that was Aaron's best camp. He was in the same situation I described earlier where he didn't have a steady place to train and he was going back and forth between Arizona and California to train at the American Kickboxing Academy. It wasn't an ideal situation and I know you can't blame it on that but from me looking at it from the outside I know that not having the comfort and stability of having somewhere wasn't the ideal situation for Aaron going into that fight. Now we have our own gym put together and we are all set to go."
Both Dollaway and Munoz come from elite level wrestling backgrounds but both fighters have proven capable in other aspects of the mixed martial arts game. Where Munoz has used his NCAA championship caliber wrestling to set up a vicious ground and pound attack, Dollaway on the other hand has used his wrestling foundation to strengthen a transition game that has lead to several exciting submission victories.
"With any fighter you are always looking for the best way to beat him so with Mark I'm keeping my eye on any mistakes that he makes," Dollaway confirmed. "I'm sure he's doing the same thing and watching my videos looking for an area of my game that he can expose but every fighter has weaknesses. Eliminating those weaknesses is just something that you have to work on and you have to become a better fighter every time you step out there. I've definitely been watching a lot of tape on Munoz and putting together a solid game plan for our upcoming fight."
Dollaway has looked sharper with each appearance with his most recent bout against Joe Doerksen possibly being his finest performance yet. Known as a wrestlers with a developing ground game, it was projected that Dollaway would look to apply a grinding style to negate Doerksen's jiu-jitsu prowess. Instead "The Doberman" created a highlight reel finish as he latched onto a guillotine choke and held on tight as Doerksen attempted to roll himself out of the submission. Ultimately Dollaway was able to keep the hold locked up and Doerksen was forced to tap in the first round. The finish earned Dollaway his second "Submission of the Night" bonus and has placed him in a position to now go toe to toe with Munoz.
"It wasn't so much the win itself but the way that I got the win catapulted me up the ranks," C.B. stated. "Before that fight I was hardly mentioned in the Top 20 but after getting that win it really shot me up the ranks to where I'm making some Top 10 lists. I have to keep my head down, keep grinding away and keep getting those wins. I need the fights to get bigger every time out and that's something that I believe is possible so I can definitely say the way I finished the Doerksen fight has done a lot for my career."
Dollaway's wrestling base allowed "The Doberman" a smooth transition into mixed martial arts but it was an immediate infatuation with jiu-jitsu that created the catalyst for his growth. Only seven fights into his UFC career Dollaway has already claimed two "Submission of the Night" bonuses with his most recent coming against Doerksen in Indianapolis. As Dollaway becomes increasingly dangerous on the ground he is also working diligently to ensure a stand-up war will be an aspect his opponents hope to avoid as well.
"I work on my stand-up just as much as I work on everything else," Dollaway replied when asked about expanding his skill set. "The last fight I wasn't able to show a lot of what I've been working on but people can expect to see a much improved striker when I get in there with Mark Munoz. It's been almost a year since the Goran Reljic fight and I believe I've gotten substantially better. It's a part of my game people haven't really been able to see as much and I'm going to surprise a lot of people in my upcoming fight."
While Dollaway made it look like an easy night's work in the cage against Doerksen, the training camp for the fight was anything but. Dollaway, along with Simpson and Bader decided to open their own gym (Power MMA & Fitness)which meant parting ways with long time trainers Trevor and Todd Lally. The trio gave their best effort to keep matters civil in the media but this was not a favor that was returned from the now scorned brothers and several other fighters at Arizona Combat Sports.
"For them to say they are better off without us...whatever," Dollaway declared. "We left because we wanted to do our own thing. There was no future for us there or after we were done fighting and you see that a lot with boxers and even MMA guys. When your fight career is over what do you do? So by leaving Arizona Combat we were securing our futures after our time in the sport. We were being smart about it and if people want to hate about it...whatever. There was a lot of criticism but sometimes you have to take chances and do what's best for you even though no one else is looking out for you."
As if the turmoil of leaving Arizona Combat Sports wasn't enough, next the trio of Dollaway, Bader and Simpson encountered more friction at The Lion's Den training facility. Despite being open about their time at the gym being a temporary situation, once it became clear the fighters intended to follow through on their plans after UFC 119 conflict arose.
"We had gone there to train and we were upfront about what our plans were as far as opening our own gym. They were open to us training there and then half way through our camp he found out that we were really opening our own gym and things took a turn. I don't know if he didn't believe us or didn't think we were going to be able to get our stuff together but once he knew it was really happening he kicked us out. After that we were just going wherever we could to train. We went to Arizona State to do our wrestling and Rage in the Cage to do our sparring. It was a hectic camp for Bader and I because we were fighting Doerksen and Nogueira and had to jump around to different places just to get our camp in. Ultimately though we made it through, both of us came away with wins and now with owning our own gym things are looking up."
More from Dollaway after the jump.
In addition to the continued success of his fight career, Dollaway is also one third owner of Power MMA & Fitness Training Facility in Gilbert Arizona. The decision to open their own facility was the underlying motivation for their exodus from Arizona Combat Sports but with the trio of Bader, Dollaway and Simpson all being relatively young in the fight game, taking on a large business endeavor could easily create a tremendous distraction. With that being said, Dollaway's focus and determination inside of the cage are equaled outside as he has planned carefully, leaving zero questions as to where his priorities fall at this moment in time.
"It feels great to finally move the equipment from my garage to the gym," Dollaway laughed. "We are not technically open yet but we are looking at February for our grand opening. I'm learning the business side of everything and I know that these things take time. It's a whole new experience but I think we did right and everything is going to work out. We hired people to run the gym and take care of the administration aspect of things. We also hired trainers and instructors so it is not going to take away from our careers. Ryan and I are both very young in this sport so our focus needs to be on our careers right now. We also believe if our careers are successful it will play a big role in the success of the gym so we have made decisions to keep the priorities. Other than that everything is set up now. We have a full sized cage, boxing ring and 5,000 ft of mat space. It's ready to go. When we open we want it took look top-notch and professional, not a rinky dink operation. We have made sure everything is done right so when we open it is full speed ahead after that."
Dollaway has also been working diligently to help another friend Ryan Bader prepare for the biggest matchup of his young career. The former TUF winner is scheduled to face rising star Jon Jones at UFC 126 on Feb. 5th. The collision of the two young stars has generated plenty of hype and the winner of the matchup will stand alone as the organization's brightest championship prospect.
"I know people say all the time that a guy has never looked better but I'm telling you that Bader looks better than I've ever seen him," Dollaway stated. "His preparation is going great and I don't know what it was about this Jon Jones fight but it has motivated him to an entirely new level. He is faster, stronger and in the best shape of his life. I spar with him everyday and all I know is that Jon Jones better be ready for a war at UFC 126."
2010 was a solid year for C.B. Dollaway that saw him begin with a victory over Goran Reljic and cap it off with a memorable finish of MMA veteran Joe Doerksen at UFC 119. The win over Doerksen bumped "The Doberman" onto several Top 10 lists around MMA and with a win over Munoz, his stock will continue to rise this year as well.
"My goal for 2011 is to do the same thing that I did last year," Dollaway answered when asked about his goals for 2011. "I want to keep steadily working my way up the ladder, improve every fight and just make a solid progression. I think that is just the way you have to go about it because you can't look too far ahead into the future. I think you have to achieve and chip away at your small goals first but I truly believe if you are a fighter on this level and if your ultimate goal is not to win a title then you shouldn't be in this sport."
Dollaway continued, "I feel like I'm right there. It's kind of nice being around Cain Velasquez who is my ex-teammate from Arizona State. He just won the title. Ryan Bader is right there and who knows? Maybe I'm next? Those guys are close friends of mine and seeing their hard work pay off makes me realize that level of success is obtainable. It's something that I know I can do, my friends have done it and if you just put your mind to it anything is possible. You have to believe in yourself and quit listening to the all the bullshit on the internet. You have to understand that people are going to talk shit about you and you can't let that get to you. Get your mind right, focus on the task at hand and winning a title is definitely an obtainable goal."
With the interview coming to a close Dollaway wanted to take the final moment and send a message to all of the UFC fans that will be tuning in on the Versus network to watch "The Doberman" and the "Filipino Wrecking Machine" throw down.
"March 3rd...Tuesday night, make sure you tune in because there are going to be fireworks," Dollaway exclaimed. "The matchup alone guarantees a tough fight. Mark is a great competitor, a national champion, I know he's coming to bring it but so am I. A lot of times two wrestlers nullify that aspect of each other's games so it turns out to be a stand-up war. Look at Aaron and Mark's fight. So come March 3rd, I don't know what is going to happen but I can guarantee it will be an exciting fight where both guys are going out there looking for the finish."