People often look at the coming of a new year as a chance for a fresh start. It’s a chance to resolve to make a change in their life, or just a chance to put the previous year’s bad experiences behind them and look to the future with optimism.

UFC middleweight and TUF 7 finalist C.B. Dollaway is eyeing a better year in 2013. Last year saw Dollaway make only one trip to the Octagon due to a long layoff following an extensive hip surgery. Not only did Dollaway have to contend with recovering from the procedure, but a split with Arizona Combat Sports left Dollaway and a few teammates in need of a new camp, which they had to build from the ground up. It takes time to bounce back from injury, surgery and relocation, but now things are starting to settle into place.

The road back to getting on the right track started with a win over Jason “Mayhem” Miller at UFC 146. The victory snapped a two-fight skid for Dollaway in which he lost to Mark Munoz and Jared Hamman in 2011.

Dollaway has him arm raised in victory (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

“It’s great, you know, just getting back in the win column in general,” Dollaway told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview. “Getting a win over Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller is huge, you know, getting a big name under my belt. After the layoff, I had hip surgery right before the fight. Basically [the fight] came soon as I got cleared to start training again. I went right into training camp.”

It wasn’t the prettiest decision win over Miller, even Dollaway agreed it wasn’t “the best me yet.”

Dollaway used his wrestling ability to stifle his opponent’s attack and grind his way to victory as means to an end, because, as he saw it, it was important to ensure he got a win to continue his employment with the UFC.

“I was in a position I knew what I had to do: I had to win,” Dollaway explained. “Can’t take many chances. You lose that fight, you’re out of the UFC. I had to win the fight. Usually I fight, I go after people, I try to finish people. I had to play it a little safer. It’s not my style, it’s not what I like to do, but at the end of the day, I gotta make a living.”

Dollaway knows that particular attack won’t bring him any praise from the fans or bonuses from the UFC, but there is a foresight to the approach, as if ensuring one’s livelihood during periods of uncertainty wasn’t enough.

“Just gotta find a way to win. You’re only as good as your last fight,” he said. “If your last fight wasn’t a win, you’re looking at the chopping block. You drop two fights, or three fights, in a row, there’s a good chance you’re gonna be gone. You gotta do what you gotta do.

“When you’re coming off a couple wins in a row, you can fight a little less safe. You can go out and take chances and try to go for the bonuses and stuff like that, look for the finishes.”

It’s not an easy feeling to think that your next trip into the Octagon could be your last. Some fighters like Leonard Garcia can break the mold by maintaining a losing UFC record while keeping their job due to the level of excitement they bring into the cage. Other fighters choose to walk the fine line of maintaining a win, even it means a boring fight in order to move themselves toward the goal of reaching the top of the division.

“Yeah, it sucks you know,” Dollaway admitted. “It’s just the nature of the beast.”

Dollaway (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

Dollaway will be the welcoming party for his upcoming opponent Daniel Sarafian’s first trip to the Octagon. The two share a commonality in that they are both TUF veterans. Dollaway competed on The Ultimate Fighter 7 with the likes of Amir Sadollah, Matt Brown and Matthew Riddle, and Sarafian was a cast member of the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Both men made it to the finals of their respective shows, only to meet with disappointment. Dollaway earned his spot after original finalist Jesse Taylor blew his chance, but then Dollaway lost to Sadollah at the finale. Sarafian earned his place in the TUF Brazil finals, but unfortunately was forced to withdraw from the fight with an injury.

Dollaway, now five years removed from his time as a prospect entering the UFC, can offer some words of advice for his opponent’s entrance into the big leagues.

“Now you’re fighting real fighters,” Dollaway said. “You’re fighting guys who want to be fighters. You’re fighting guys who are fighters. There’s no more ‘some guy that’s trying out for a reality show.’ You’re dealing with guys who do this everyday. Work out four or five times a day everyday now. This is my job. I don’t work another job and work out at night. This is all I do. All I focus on. You’re dealing with a different beast now.”

Sarafian punched his ticket to the finale of TUF Brazil by finishing two of his three fights with a submission (the other ended with a knockout). He owns six of his seven professional wins by submission and demonstrated on the show that he also has knockout power. That doesn’t seem to faze Dollaway, who see’s winning “with my own strengths” as the solution to the problems that Sarafian brings to the table. To Dollaway, it’s all just a matter of styles.

“Classic wrestling versus jiu-jitsu,” he explained. “I believe I’ve improved my jiu-jitsu game by leaps and bounds. [I have] really put a lot of focus into that over the last couple of years. I don’t see me getting caught in a submission by him. I’ve been in there with Joe Doerksen and Jason ‘Mayhem’ Miller. I saw a lot of stuff. I’ve had a lot of camps where I had to focus on the jiu-jitsu aspect, and I just feel like I’m ready to deal with his jiu-jitsu.”

Dollaway (Tracy Lee/Combat Lifestyle)

With his time at Arizona Combat Sports behind him, Dollaway now calls Power MMA and Fitness home. As things began to come together, the new gym became a “one-stop shop,” as Dollaway described it. Dollaway and the stable of fighters at Power MMA work with head coach Tom Vaughn, striking coaches Jose Benavidez Sr. and Ray Stafford, and jiu-jitsu coach Andre Marcolla.

For Dollaway, getting his diet right was one of the biggest benefits to his new training regimen. It’s something that allows him to “wake up and pop out of bed in the morning.”

“That [diet] was a huge thing,” Dollaway confessed. “It’s one of the key aspects of the sport that I didn’t focus on as much as everything else, or just realized how much better I could feel or how much bigger and stronger I would be if I ate right, did everything right, instead of eating bad food, putting garbage into your body.

“If you can eat clean, you’re gonna get out of what you put into your body. If you’re putting garbage in, you’re probably going to feel like garbage. If you’re put good food in, you’re going to feel great. I guess, until you actually do it and feel how you feel, you don’t know. But I know what to do.”

Dollaway emphasized the importance of how a proper diet allows a fighter to maintain the best benefits from training. There was a conviction in his voice that resonated honestly about his intentions to move forward in a better direction. It’s that same kind of drive for reinvention that may see “The Doberman” competing at welterweight by the end of the year if all goes well with his new diet.

“I was maybe considering a drop to 170 pounds. But, with the size I am right now, I don’t see it feasible to get down to 170 pounds. Maybe slowly up this year,” Dollaway said. “I’ve definitely been working on my diet and toying around with with a drop to 170. But where I’m at right now, it’s just not feasible. Hopefully, I’ll stay on top of my diet in between fights and stay in training and everything, not taking long layoffs anymore, and obviously having hip surgery has set me back. But, yeah, 2013, if I can stay on top of everything, you know, maybe there will be a possible drop to 170.”

With a brand new hip, diet and training camp, Dollaway’s 2013 could be a banner year. The time for layoff and recovery is over, and Dollaway isn’t content to keep things the way they are. His upcoming Jan. 19 fight on UFC on FX 7 with Sarafian from Sao Paulo, Brazil will be our indication if the changes he’s seen will pay off towards a successful year.

Top Photo: C.B. Dollaway (top) (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

David Massey
Staff Writer

David Massey studied Humanities and Art History at the University of Central Oklahoma. He first found interest in MMA from the first TUF show and has been hooked ever since. He began posting on mmajunkie then submitting Sunday Junkie entries and that began his interest in writing about MMA. Through twitter David found other MMA enthusiasts and began contributing articles to marqueemma.com. He looks forward to growing as a writer and being a part of the sport he loves.