“I have a swollen ankle and some bumps and bruises, but I feel great”, CB Dollaway tells me from Rio De Janeiro, where he’s “enjoying the beach and relaxing” with his fiancée Jenny, whom he will marry next month in Cabo.
The two-time ASU All-American wrestler has every reason to celebrate. Saturday’s split-decision win over Daniel Sarafian in his hometown of Sao Paulo, Brazil and $50,000 share of the UFC’s fight of the night bonus would make anyone pop a bottle or two. But for Dollaway, who’s on a two-fight win streak, his career is back on track and he’s never been happier. “It’s about my priorities and how much effort I put into them. That’s what makes it all work.”
Getting the win over Sarafian took every bit of that effort — mentally and physically. The MMA-crazy Brazilians were 100% behind Sarafian, a popular competitor on The UFC’s Ultimate Fighter Brazil TV series.
“They were chanting ‘you’re gonna die’ in Portuguese, screaming they were gonna cut my head off. I’ve fought in crazy places, like a bull ring in Mexico. Nothing compares to this.”
Once the fight started, Dollaway knew Sarafian would attack. “I expected him to come hard. He hit me early. He stunned me but I got my bearings back and I was fine.”
The elite wrestler hardly ever has trouble taking opponents down, but Sarafian stayed on his feet through the first round.
“I figured it’d be easy. But he was smaller and he kept moving back. I had to save my energy. I knew he would wear down.”
In the second, Team Power’s Dollaway punished Safarian with hard body kicks. “My kicks were taking the wind out of him. He stopped charging.”
Then the Ultimate Fighter 7 runner-Up connected with jabs that forced Sarafian to make a big mistake. “He ducked my jab and I landed that uppercut. He went limp. I tried to finish him.”
Safarian survived the second, but the fight was even. CB knew what he had to do. “I had to take him down to win and I went out and did it twice.”
But just when CB had the fight won, Sarafian hit a half-guard sweep and reversed him to take him down. “I couldn’t get my leg out. I was exhausted but I knew I had to reverse. I wasn’t coming that far to lose. I dug deep and I did it. ”
Dollaway knew he had won the fight, but was concerned about the potential decision.
“We were still in his hometown. I got nervous when that one judge scored it for him. When my arm got raised, the crowd was booing so loud the cage was shaking. I felt great!”
The win is the second in a row for CB and he wants three more fights this year.
“I’m 100% healthy. I want to get into title contention. I came in as a wrestler and I’ve worked hard on everything else. I see my friends and old teammates reaching the top, like Cain (Velasquez, UFC Champ) winning the belt twice and (Ryan) Bader getting such big fights. I train with Bader, Aaron (Simpson) and other great athletes every day. I’m getting better and I’m hungrier than ever before. I want this.”
I can hear it in his voice. “The Doberman” is hungry. CB Dollaway is back and better than ever. Look out middleweight division. He’s coming for you.
Note: Dollaway, Bader and Velasquez- each a 2-time All-American- anchored the 2004-06 Sun Devils wrestling lineup that also included UFC fighters John Moraga and Clifford Starks and assistant coach Aaron Simpson. Their combined record is 71-14, 33-13 in the UFC. Other Notable Sun Devil wrestlers turned MMA stars include Dan “Hendo” Henderson, Dan “The Beast” Severn and “Cowboy” Don Frye.