This Saturday (May 31, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweights Francis Carmont and CB Dollaway will battle on the main card of UFC Fight Night 41, airing live on Fight Pass from O2 World in Berlin, Germany.
No. 9-ranked Carmont most recently lost a UFC Fight Night 36 decision to decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza. The loss snapped Carmont's 11-fight mixed martial arts (MMA) win streak, which included six inside the Octagon.
He'll look to rebound against Dollaway, the former NCAA All-American wrestler who last destroyed The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil" 1 winner Cezar Ferreira with a first round knockout at UFC Fight Night 38 in late March.
If not for a questionable UFC 166 loss to Tim Boetsch where Dollaway was deducted a point for eye pokes, "Doberman" would have four straight wins in the increasingly stacked UFC middleweight division. If he can get past "Limitless" in Berlin, Dollaway could be a surprise player at 185 pounds.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for Carmont vs. Dollaway:
Record: 22-8 overall, 6-1 UFC
Key Wins: Costas Philippou (UFC 165), Lorenz Larkin (UFC on FOX 7), Tom Lawlor (UFC 154)
Key Losses: Ronaldo Souza (UFC Fight Night 36), Evangelista Santos (WFC- Europe vs. Brazil)
Keys to Victory: French-born Carmont has a well-rounded mix of wins in the cage with 10 submissions, six knockouts, and six decisions. Training with former UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre at Montreal's TriStar Gym, Carmont's wrestling has become one of his strongest points.
He's going to need it against "Doberman," who has a long list of mat accolades to his name. Carmont was outclassed by "Jacare" on the ground, but that's no surprise.
While Dollaway may not have the mat ability of Souza, he has looked impressive with his controlling top game and power punches lately; it's on Carmont to prove he can defeat another solid 185-pound talent who has momentum.
Carmont has to avoid being taken down, no easy task given his opponent. He has shown his weakness lies on the canvas, a facet he's undoubtedly been training hard at since his loss to Souza.
At 6'3" "Limitless" needs to use his striking range and precision to keep Dollaway's power at bay. A steady torrent of jabs, varied kicks, and combinations will go a long way in disrupting Dollaway's offense.
Using the technical prowess he's learned at TriStar to outclass Dollaway on the feet will be the best way to accomplish that.
Record: 14-5 overall, 8-5 UFC
Key Wins: Cezar Ferreira (UFC Fight Night 38), Jason Miller (UFC 146), Daniel Sarafian (UFC on FX 8)
Key Losses: Mark Munoz (UFC on Versus 3), Tim Boetsch (UFC 166), Tom Lawlor (UFC 100)
Keys to Victory: Dollaway appears to be in top form right now. The former NJCAA national champion wrestler has used a smothering top game in his recent wins, and he added a surprising wrinkle to his game by blasting Ferreira in the first round.
He should be brimming with confidence heading into Berlin, but he can't let that turn into cockiness.
Dollaway needs to stay focused on the feet, looking for an opportunity to unleash his big shots rather than forcing the issue. Carmont should have the edge in terms of technical striking so Dollaway has to make sure he doesn't get picked apart.
That gameplan should include a decent amount of transitions to take this fight to the ground. Takedowns won't be easy to come by, but the opportunity to submit Carmont will be there if Dollaway can drag the bout to the mat.
"Limitless" has tapped out in three of his eight losses, proving there is a limit to just how far he will go. While "Doberman" isn't exactly known for his submission game, he does have the wherewithal and strength to put Carmont in some bad spots on the ground.
If he can make this fight play out according to his strengths, a big win could be in sight for Dollaway.
Bottom Line from Las Vegas: The bottom line for this fight is that it's a pivotal struggle for position in a wide-open UFC middleweight division full of talented contenders.
Carmont had the chance to prove he was one of the 185-pound elite against Souza but failed. Now he has to deliver nothing less than a convincing performance against Dollaway, and he could desperately use a finish in doing so.
"Limitless" has earned the unfortunate moniker of being a boring fighter as of late, so the pressure is on to pick up a win in Berlin.
Dollaway, on the other hand, probably has less of a burden. He won his most recent bout in emphatic fashion and looks better than he has at any other point in his UFC tenure.
Even though he's fighting close to Carmont's European home, Dollaway believes now is his time to rise up the rankings. He's got a mountain to climb in "Limitless," who's only been knocked out once.
But if "Doberman" can become the second man to do so, he should catapult onto the Top 15 rankings.
That makes this the biggest fight of his career.
With a ton of momentum on the line in Germany, expect a hard-fought battle from both sides.
Francis Carmont and CB Dollaway will clash in a battle of solid middleweights looking to rise. Will it be ‘Limitless' who rights the ship, or will ‘Doberman' continue his run through competition?