CB Dollaway may be the team player of all team players on the UFC roster after fighting his last four fights in international locales, but this Saturday, “The Doberman” is staying home in the US of A, and he couldn’t be happier.
“It's a lot of stress off,” he said after visits to Canada, Brazil (twice) and Germany kept him from fighting in the United States since October of 2013. “With all the paperwork and visas and tax forms, it starts to become a stressor. This time, there are no passport issues or worrying about getting stuck in customs. This a lot more of a stress-free trip. I get on a plane, fly to Florida and focus on the fight. There are no in-between distractions.”
The lead-up to his fight against Nate Marquardt in Orlando can’t get more perfect than that. Plus, to add to the good vibes around his final bout of 2015, Dollaway and his Power MMA squad in Gilbert, Arizona got an injection of new blood in the form of several new world-class members, including Myles Jury, Johnny Case and Michael Chandler.
“It's kind of like a breath of fresh air having some different guys in there bringing different thoughts, different insights and different techniques,” Dollaway said. “They have stuff they may have done at their gym that they liked, we try it out, and they're trying our stuff out and we're just evolving our program as guys come in. We never stay the same. We keep getting better - every day, every week, every year.”
The 32-year-old Dollaway also takes pride in the fact that the gym he co-founded with fellow UFC contender Ryan Bader and former Octagon standout Aaron Simpson is becoming a go-to spot for elite level fighters.
“It's awesome,” he said. “That's what we intended on building and we're starting to see our dream come to life. We started this four years ago and we didn't know how long it would take to get to this point, but finally, everything is starting to come together for us. We're organized now and kind of know what we're doing a little more. (Laughs) When we first started, it was a little hectic, trying to figure everything out. There's a lot more to running a gym and setting up a team than you'd think, and I finally feel like we've got it figured out, and with Aaron retiring from fighting and working more on the business side and being the head coach and dealing with a lot of that stuff, everything's come together now. We've brought in more coaches, we have a good strength and conditioning guy there - Jason Kamens is doing a phenomenal job with everybody - and we're seeing the results.”
Yet co-ownership and coaching needs to get put aside for eight weeks when it’s time to fight, and that’s just what Dollaway has to do if he’s going to build on his No. 12 ranking in the middleweight division and keep moving up the ladder.
“We're all doing it together, but you're focused on your own thing and you have your own time,” he said. “Like Aaron and me will get together on our own time and train just for me and specifically for my fight. But then a lot of stuff's done as a team and you break off into your own separate things that you've got to do. We know every day around 3:30 there's a pro practice, in the morning there's strength and conditioning, and beyond that, there's your own stuff you know you need to work on.”
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For Dollaway, that means two trips a week down to Phoenix to work with his longtime boxing coach Jose Benavidez in addition to the sessions at his home gym. It shows that Dollaway, in looking to snap a two-fight losing streak, is leaving no stone unturned in search of victory, even if Marquardt is currently on a 1-5 skid leading up to Saturday night. His opponent’s current situation doesn’t matter to Dollaway. If anything, he thinks it’s going to make “Nate the Great” even more dangerous.
“I know I'm going to get the best version of him,” Dollaway said. “No one wants to go silent into the night without a fight. He's a fighter, he's been around a long time, and it's kind of like the Toby Keith song: "I ain't as good as I once was; But I'm as good once as I ever was." (Laughs) So you just know he's going to come out strong - his job's on the line, he wants that money, he wants to stick around, and I know he's not going to go away easy. So I've got to bring my A game, and I've got to fight smart. I do figure he's going to come out throwing heavy leather early. I just figure that's his game plan to try to get me out of there early. He knows the longer the fight goes, he just might not have the gas to go like he used to. So I'm expecting a very fast start.”
A one-round quickie, three rounds of trench warfare or anything in between, Dollaway is prepared for. Despite the two recent losses to Lyoto Machida and Michael Bisping, the Arizonan does look like he’s turned the corner, as he’s fighting more confidently wherever the bout goes. That’s the way he looks at things, with the quest now to fight that way and throw in that little extra to get himself the win.
“Truthfully, I see myself getting better,” he said. “All I can look at is the progression and not really pay attention to the record. How did I look in there? Did I look better, did I look worse? And I just feel like I keep getting better and I have to look at the guys I'm fighting. I love Joe Doerksen, a great, tough guy, but I'm not fighting that level of fighter anymore. The last guys I fought, Lyoto Machida is a former world champion and Michael Bisping has been in the top ten for the last ten years. Those are the best guys in the world that you're fighting now, and it sucks but you're gonna take some losses, but if you can learn from them and get better, eventually you've got to get a win, and once you get a win, your confidence goes up. I thought I was right in the fight with Bisping, and it could have gone either way, so it gave me a lot of confidence there.”
Now he’s prepared to put everything together, with Mr. Marquardt being the first recipient of Dollaway’s hard work.
“I'm ready to make that jump,” he said. “In the last year I've hopped in there with those (top) guys and got a taste of what it's like at the top of the division and now I feel comfortable being there. So now I've got to get wins against a couple of those guys and put myself in position.”