C.B. Dollaway had his back against the wall in his last fight, and he never, ever wants to be there again.
Heading into his bout against Jason Miller at UFC 146, "The Doberman" was on a two-fight losing streak. Normally known for an exciting pressure-based style that attacks his opponents with wrestling, submissions and heavy strikes, he had to tone everything down and win a very conservative unanimous decision against "Mayhem" drawing the ire of many MMA fans.
Now, eight months later, The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) season seven veteran is back and ready to put on a show for the fans. If everything goes according to plan, he won't have to fight conservatively for a second.
Dollaway will be taking on TUF Brazil standout Daniel Sarafian on Saturday night (Jan. 19, 2013) in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The Power MMA fighter spoke with MMAmania.com earlier this week about no longer having his back against the wall, finally having a professionally run training camp and why he's not concerned about the hostile Brazilian environment in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Heading to Brazil to face a Brazilian in Sao Paulo is practically terrifying for many fighters. Is there anything you did to prepare the type of environment that you'll experience down there?
C.B. Dollaway: No, not really. I've wrestled in tournaments in hostile territory and I've fought in places where the crowd wasn't on my side before, particularly the last fight against Mayhem Miller. He had a lot of supporters there so I heard a lot of boos coming out. It's whatever. They're the crowd and I'm only fighting the guy in the ring with me.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Speaking of that fight against Mayhem, you were criticized for fighting conservatively but it was effective, it got you the win. Does that criticism get to you at all, or perhaps alter your style heading into this fight?
C.B. Dollaway: This fight I won't have to be as conservative. Mayhem Miller was such a dangerous fighter. He's a guy that hangs around and catches people in submissions. If you go for stuff and he gets a chance to be on top, he's very dangerous there so I knew that the only chance of winning was if he got on top of me. I had to play conservative and I got caught a few times too on the feet. I wasn't expecting to get caught or hurt in the fight and I had to alter a few things and do what I needed to do to get the win. I had my back against the wall. It was a "must-win" situation and sometimes you've got ot do what you've got to do.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Hopefully, with your back not being against the wall for this fight against Sarafian, do you feel like there's less pressure, that you can open up a bit more?
C.B. Dollaway: Yeah, yeah I can come out and really fight guns a-blazing and look for the finish. I think I can let it all hang out and put the pressure on him which is normally how I fight. I usually try to finish fights and get in there trying to mix it up but just that fight I had a lot of pressure, a lot of different things going on and especially knowing that if I lost that fight I would have been cut from the UFC so it was a "must-win" situation.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): How do you bounce back from a situation where you're fighting for your livelihood to getting back to the mode where you're wanting to get back in the mix in the division again? Is that just a mental switch you have to flip?
C.B. Dollaway: Nah, not really. That's what I want to be. I know what I want to do. For those last few fights I was coming right off of hip surgery and it probably wasn't the best idea but the second I was cleared to start training, I went right into a training camp to face Jason Miller. I don't feel like I was 100 percent for that fight and I feel now I'm bigger, stronger and I feel better. It's been over a year since my surgery in November of 2011 so I feel 100 percent now.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): So was it to your benefit that you haven't fought since May, basically allowing your body to fully recover?
C.B. Dollaway: Well I would have preferred to fight before the end of 2012 but with the whole Jon Jones situation at UFC 151, everyone's fights got pushed back a bit, although it did give me time to develop my game, become a better and more well-rounded fighter and work on the areas that needed improvement.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What areas did you feel needed the most improvement? We always hear that guys wanted to be more well-rounded fighters. What did you really need to focus on during that extra time you had?
C.B. Dollaway: Well obviously the focus was on my stand-up which is one of the weaker points of my game. I feel it's come a long way and it keeps getting better the more time in the Octagon. I worked a lot on my ground game, although I feel that it's one of my strengths. I feel like I can attack and go for submissions and finish guys. I'll be looking to finish Daniel Sarafian on Saturday night.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): In your last three fights, you've been caught with pretty big shots. What were some things you really put some extra time in for in the stand-up whether it's defensive tendencies or whatever?
C.B. Dollaway: It's been a lot more about tightening up my defense, making sure my hands were in the right positions, head movement, footwork. I've been working with a new boxing coach and I feel like we've made a lot of progress. People remember Mayhem hurting me, but I landed a lot of good shots against Mayhem on the feet as well but he's just a guy that moves forward.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): After having your back against the wall, what would it mean for you to get on a two-fight winning streak and have a bit of breathing room in the middleweight division?
C.B. Dollaway: It would mean everything. I really feel like we have the right training camp now. When I did take those two losses, we had just broken away from Arizona Combat Sports and opened our own training facility and everything wasn't in place yet. We knew that with the shift in camp we could suffer some losses by not having the right program in place but now we have Tom Vaughn our head coach and Ray Stafford our boxing coach and Jason Kammans our strength coach and everyone is there in place. We have the right team now and everything runs smoothly. There's no guessing with my workouts, it's all planned out and we're very organized and structured now compared to when I had that losing streak when we were just sort of doing our own thing. I feel like we're a much more professionally run program now.
There's no thinking for me anymore. My coach creates the gameplan, he looks at my strengths and my opponent's strengths and we work on the gameplan. It's a lot better.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): With your coach breaking down your opponent, what do you feel is something you'll have to be most concerned about with him?
C.B. Dollaway: Probably his top game. His Brazilian jiu-jitsu when he's on top, he's pretty good there with good ground and pound. I obviously don't want him on top of me a whole lot and on the feet he has some pretty good boxing too. He's pretty well-rounded and his wrestling's not bad. I haven't seen much of his bottom game because he's usually on top in all the fights I can find. I'm sure he's got great attacks there too. I've just got to be prepared for everything. It'll be an interesting fight.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): How do you picture victory when you're thinking about it?
C.B. Dollaway: I just see myself coming out, putting the pressure on him right away, breaking him down and either finishing him late in the second or in the third round.
C.B. would like to thank all his training partners, his team Power MMA, his strength coach and his agent Dave Martin. You can follow him on twitter @CBDollaway.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Will Dollaway be able to regain his more aggressive form? Or will Sarafian hand him a major reality check?