As his The Ultimate Fighter 7 castmate Matt Brown continues to make headlines with his recent career resurgence, C.B. Dollaway has flown completely under the radar while making his own push towards UFC title contention. Is he truly headed for the same heights as his counterpart?

While Brown has been knocking out what feels like half of the UFC’s welterweight division in order to change his reputation from brawler to contender, Dollaway has taken the subtle route. He has more or less just gotten back to what made him a dangerous fighter to begin with by embracing the grind. While his overall game has improved dramatically since his days on the TUF set, Dollaway came into this sport with two major weapons in his arsenal: his wrestling skills and his ability to put nearly anyone on the planet away with his trademark Peruvian necktie submission. “The Doberman” hasn’t busted out the necktie in any of his recent fights, but his wrestling has been used in its full effect and it’s brought Dollaway from the chopping block to possible title contention in a little over two years.

After back-to-back knockout losses in 2011 left Dollaway barely holding onto his roster spot, the TUF 7 runner-up came up with a big win with his back against the wall against Jason “Mayhem” Miller. Although it wasn’t “The Doberman’s” prettiest performance, Dollaway completely shut down Mayhem’s entire offensive game and earned a lopsided decision win to retire the popular MMA personality. A “Fight of the Night”-winning performance in a win over Daniel Sarafian kicked off Dollaway’s 2013 campaign on a high note, and he was officially back in the mix when he drew a match-up with Tim Boetsch, a ranked opponent, a few months later.

His fight with Boetsch put the one black mark on Dollaway’s recent resurgence. Most MMA fans would argue that Dollaway should have easily earned the decision win over Boetsch that night, and it’s hard to disagree. Even with a point deduction for eye pokes, it was clear that Dollaway should have at worst walked away with a 28-28 draw after dominating the first two rounds. However, two of the judges somehow found a way to score the fight 30-26 in favor of Boetsch, leaving Dollaway’s 29-27 win on the final judge’s scorecard obsolete. The word “robbery” gets thrown around far too often in MMA circles, but, to be frank, Dollaway got robbed at UFC 166. There was no reason for him to take a step back in competition.

Although Dollaway didn’t get the top-10 opponent he probably would have gotten with a win over Boetsch, the UFC still gave the former Arizona State Sun Devil a chance to make a statement with a co-main event bout against TUF Brazil winner Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira in March. With the loss to Boetsch finally behind him, Dollaway made his statement, demolishing the Brazilian in front of his fellow countrymen in less than 40 seconds. That win led to a fight with top-10-ranked Francis Carmont, who Dollaway took out with a “Performance of the Night”-worthy beat down at UFC Fight Night 41 last month. After six years inside the Octagon, Dollaway had finally lived up to some of the promise he had shown while filming TUF all of those years ago.

Since 2011, Dollaway is 4-1 in his last five fights and should probably be undefeated. He’s retired a sort-of MMA legend, beaten the two best middleweights from the inaugural season of TUF Brazil and has outworked two guys sitting in the UFC rankings at the moment. It seems crazy to think of Dollaway as anything more than a middle-of-the-pack 185-pounder after watching him trapped in mediocrity for so long, but there’s no denying that he’s at least in line for a title eliminator of some sorts. Obviously, “The Doberman” is still a win or two away from getting a title opportunity, but for the first time in Dollaway’s career, he’s at least started to put his name into the discussion. The question is, is Dollaway ready for it?

To be honest, if Dollaway isn’t ready for the biggest stage at this point in his career, then he’s never going to be. At 30 years old and with over half a decade of time spent under the UFC banner, he is staring down what will likely be his first and only shot at becoming a top UFC middleweight. With the murderer’s row of middleweights sitting in front of him, it’s starting to look like Dollaway’s push toward the top may have already reached its climax.

Dollaway has gotten to this point by using his wrestling skills and keeping things interesting with his ever-improving striking. That formula is going to be tough to utilize against the top tier of the division, all of whom possess exceptional striking and takedown defense—or, in the case of Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, one of the scariest offensive ju-jitsu games on the planet. Outside of pulling off an upset by out-grappling Michael Bisping, who’s shown off fantastic takedown defense on multiple occasions, or Gegard Mousasi, who just took out a tough wrestler in Mark Munoz on the same night as Dollaway beat Carmont, it’s hard to picture Dollaway being able to mount any sort of offense against the best middleweights in the world. When it comes down to it, Dollaway just doesn’t have the firepower to go up against guys like Weidman, Belfort or Machida.

A few years ago, when Yushin Okami, Demian Maia and Nate Marquardt dominated the middleweight division, there would have been a good chance that the current version of Dollaway could have made some noise. Sadly, “The Doberman” may have bloomed a little too late. The current 185-pound division is just too talented at the top for Dollaway to make a real run at the belt. As entertaining as it would be to see Dollaway survive his rollercoaster ride of a UFC career and come out with a title shot, it appears the clock is about to strike midnight on his Cinderella story.

About The Author

Vince Carey
Staff Writer

Vince Carey has been writing about the sport of mixed martial arts since 2010. Although he is just 21 years old, the Omaha-based writer is looking to provide readers with interesting content on all things related to MMA.