Photo by Ron Chenoy via USA Today
MMAmania.com has a complete preview and breakdown of this Saturday night's UFC on FX 7 co-main event between middleweights C.B. Dollaway and Daniel Sarafian. What's the key to victory for both men? Find out below.
Dollaway had his back against the wall heading into his last fight and he fought conservatively against a game Jason Miller, winning a unanimous decision on the UFC 146 preliminary card. It wasn't pretty, but it kept him employed. Now, he's looking to get back in the pack of UFC's middleweight division.
Sarafian has been considered one of the top prospects in the middleweight division hailing from Brazil. The talented jiu-jitsu black belt was a wrecking machine on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Brazil last year, advancing to the finals in devastating fashion but was unable to fight on the Finale due to an injury. Now, he's looking to prove he belongs against a legitimate UFC middleweight.
Will Dollaway continue to get back in the middleweight mix? Or will Sarafian make an emphatic statement in his UFC debut? What's the key to victory for both men?
Record: 12-4 overall, 6-4 in the UFC
Key Wins: Jason Miller (UFC 146), Joe Doerkson (UFC 119), Mike Massenzio (UFC 92)
How he got here: C.B. Dollaway was a standout wrestler in college, which made his transition to mixed martial arts a very easy one. After easily winning his first six fights, he was given a shot on The Ultimate Fighter season 7, although he would lose to eventual winner Amir Sadollah in the semifinals. After finalist Jesse Taylor was kicked off the show, he was given another shot against Sadollah but again was defeated.
Dollaway stepped up and finished Taylor with a beautiful Peruvian necktie to make a statement with his first UFC victory, and after a tough loss to Tom Lawlor, he went on a solid three-fight winning streak to attempt to break into contention at 185 pounds.
Those dreams were crushed in 54 seconds by Mark Munoz and a follow-up defeat at the hands of Jared Hamman had him fighting for his job this past May. It wasn't pretty, but he ground out a decision victory against Jason Miller. He'll be trying to get on a win streak this Saturday night.
How he gets it done: Dollaway needs to take what worked against a seasoned veteran like Jason Miller and ramp it up a notch. He'll be fighting in major hostile territory against a very big fan-favorite in Sarafian, who turned into a rock star based on his appearance on TUF Brazil.
Sarafian is a very dangerous top control fighter with good ground and pound and submissions when he's got his opponent on their back. But what we haven't seen before is how good he is off his back. That's what Dollaway needs to test this weekend. Dollaway is a very good wrestler and has taken down people much more experienced than Sarafian in his career thus far.
If he can put Sarafian on his back and keep him there, he'll need to make sure to be active with top control. If he stalls at all, the fight will be stood up because the crowd will turn on him in a hurry. Punches and submission attempts will keep him on top without being separated and that's how he wins.
Record: 7-2 overall, 0-0 in the UFC
Key Wins: none
Key Losses: Mike Whitehead (Platinum Fighting Productions)
How he got here: Daniel Sarafian has been a lifelong martial artist, beginning training as a child in both judo and karate. When that wasn't enough, he switched to full on mixed martial arts training before he was done with high school.
Sarafian made his professional debut in 2006, but his career did not go as expected in the early goings-on, losing his second fight to UFC veteran Mike Whitehead in the Philippines. He would take his talents to the United States, winning two straight bouts via submission, but again would be set back on the inaugural Bellator show, losing via TKO.
Since then, he's taken his skills up a notch, moving back to Brazil and dominating his opposition, winning four straight fights and then becoming a standout on TUF Brazil last year. He advanced to the finals, stopping Renee Forte and Sergio Moraes in the process, but an injury kept him from competing on the Finale.
He'll finally get an opportunity to debut in the promotion this Saturday night.
How he gets it done: Sarafian has a strong background in judo and he'll have to use those skills to either keep the fight standing or to reverse Dollaway's momentum during a takedown attempt and wind up on top. We've seen in Dollaway's last three fights that if he gets tagged with a good shot, he can be put on serious trouble. All it takes is one big blow from Sarafian and he could be finishing this fight.
Another thing to consider is whether this fight can last all three rounds. Dollaway faded badly in his loss to Jared Hamman so even if he gets off to a good start, Sarafian could come back if he begins to slow down.
As long as the Brazilian can keep himself from being stuck on the ground facing the ceiling all three rounds, he'll be much better off.
Who will come out on top at UFC on FX 7? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!