America is the melting pot. That’s the cliché, right?

Well, in all actuality, the United States truly is the one place where more cultures converge than anywhere else in the world. Sure, there are high concentrations of mixed cultures everywhere, but this country literally has them all. That being said, as time never stops, neither does cross-cultural breeding, which has created a place where it is very rare to find a person who is pure-bred anything. UFC fighter Cody Donovan is one of those rare individuals, but even his roots are a little mixed.

Donovan (R) (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

Donovan (R) (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

Donovan, for all intents and purposes, is of 100 percent Irish heritage. But after taking a Warrior Roots DNA test a couple years back, he discovered that his Celtic heritage actually has Germanic origins. However, he remains an Irish-American at heart, and he knows approximately where his more recent ancestors came from.

“My family came over during the potato famine in the 1800s,” Donovan told The MMA Corner. “My mom’s side and my dad’s side both come from the same place in Ireland.”

Most Americans, regardless of their patriotism toward their own home country, like to know where they came from and the identity that follows the culture. There is a reason that cities have areas dubbed “Little Italy,” “Chinatown,” “Little Havana,” or even the “French Quarter,” for that matter. But, for some, mimicking the homeland in the United States is about the equivalent of going to the New York, New York casino in Las Vegas, as opposed to the actual borough of Manhattan. It’s just not the same.

Fighting in his ancestral homeland is something that has always been on Donovan’s bucket list. On Saturday night, live from the O2 in Dublin, he will be competing at UFC Fight Night 46. His dream will finally come true.

“I can’t even explain how excited I was [to find out],” said Donovan. “None of us know how long our fight career is. We’re all one injury away from permanent retirement. On top of that, I’ve lost two fights in a row, and I know my back’s against the wall.

“If you’d asked me at the beginning of my fight career what’s my list of goals—obviously, everybody wants to be a world champion—my goals were like, ‘Dude, I want to fight in Ireland. I want to have an action figure.’ I kind of had some odd goals.”

Goals are one thing. Lifelong dreams are another. But, for the matchmakers to put this one together, especially since he’s riding a two-fight losing streak, was pretty amazing.

“To be able to fight in Ireland, dude, I can’t even explain it,” Donovan said. “My management team at Paradigm was great. My wife was great. They were politicking every day. [UFC matchmaker] Joe Silva’s been great. Joe Silva has given me everything I’ve ever asked for. I know he gets a hard time from a lot of guys, but he’s got a tough job, you know? You’ve got to be a bad guy sometimes when you’re a matchmaker, but the dude has given me everything I’ve ever asked for. I’m very thankful.”

After his last fight, Donovan is in need of a big win as he fights in front of an anxious Irish crowd. The UFC is returning to Dublin for the first time in over five years, and there are three big names on the card who train right there in the capital city. If Donovan really wants to make an impression, he needs to avenge his last two upsets, the most recent being a second-round TKO loss to Gian Villante.

“The last fight was a tough one for me, because, obviously, I lost the fight,” Donovan intimated. “And, I know why I lost the fight. Before I got TKO’d, it was one of the best fights I’ve had. At least in my opinion and from all accounts I’ve gotten, I dominated that first round. I kind of lost my composure, I think. Gian is a super-tough dude. I gave him everything I had as far as boxing. I landed on his chin like 10 times. The guy just wouldn’t stumble, wouldn’t go down. I think I got a little impatient and lost my composure, so that’s one of the things I’ve been focusing on. I need to keep the pace all three rounds. If you beat somebody’s ass and they don’t fall down, it doesn’t mean you just stop.”

Villante is a thick light heavyweight with a long reach. He was a wrestler and football player at UFC middleweight champ Chris Weidman’s alma mater, Hofstra University. Donovan, who trains with the Elevation Fight Team in Denver, knows what mistakes he made against Villante, and he’s ready to come back with a vengeance in Dublin.

Donovan’s next opponent is 22-year-old Ukrainian phenom Nikita “Al Capone” Krylov, who has gone 16-4 in just two years as a pro. All but one of his fights have ended in the first round, and the one that went to round three was a TKO loss at the hands of the big man, Soa Palelei.

“He’s tough,” Donovan admitted. “It’s important that I don’t see that he’s young and underestimate him. He’s a tough kid. He’s got twice as many wins as I do at the professional level. He’s well rounded, he’s a good striker, he has a good ground game, it looks like, and he’s finished a lot of guys. I need to treat him like I’d treat anybody else. I need to go out there and prepare for a war.

“I am a black belt in jiu-jitsu. I’ve never finished anyone in the UFC, but, in practice, I finish about 90 percent by submission. If he wants to go to the ground, he’s going to have his hands full. I would like to push my jiu-jitsu a little bit in this fight. Every time I get out there, I kind of lose track, punching people, but we’ll try to get in a little jiu-jitsu in this fight and see if we can get his hands full.”

Donovan may have earned his black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under UFC veteran Nate Marquardt, but Krylov definitely has some credentials of his own. The youngster holds either black belts or Master of Sports ranks in Kyokushin karate, hand-to-hand combat and submission fighting, and he holds 10 submission victories to go along with his six knockouts.

“I have to respect anybody that has that many wins by submission, but you have to look at the people he’s been submitting,” explained Donovan. “I don’t think he’s fought anyone in the Ukraine that is as talented a jiu-jitsu player that I am. In no way am I downplaying or talking trash about his jiu-jitsu. It’s just that I feel mine is superior, you know?”

Donovan (L) (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

Donovan (L) (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

Donovan’s three submission wins in 12 fights really do not speak to his prowess on the ground. He truly is a talented submission specialist. What stands out even more on his record is that all four of his losses have come by some form of knockout, including both of his Octagon defeats.

“I feel like each fight, my striking has gotten better,” said the Denver fighter. “Any errors that were made during my fights, whether me getting lazy or things like that, I just needed to clean up. I’ve been working with Christian Allen about five times a week on the mitts. I think with the last fight, even though I got TKO’d, it’s the best that my striking has ever looked, and I just want to continue down that path.”

Fighting on a once-in-a-lifetime card—and with his UFC contract possibly on the line—this will be the best, most well-rounded Donovan fans have ever seen. Although he has some ideas of where he would like to take the fight, he doesn’t want to make any assumptions of what’s actually going to happen when the ref says go.

“I don’t like to predict things ahead of time,” Donovan admitted. “I just like to let the fight happen. I know I would like it to go to the areas where I’m comfortable, which are dirty boxing against the fence, ground game with me on top, and if he stands up or tries to get pretty or whatever, we just kind of keep letting it go. I’m not going to get too focused on the finish as much as just trying to get in a hard three rounds, and I think if I do that, it will end before that.”

Regardless of where the fight goes on Saturday night, the Iowa-born Coloradan Irish-American will finally get to fulfill one of his greatest dreams as a fighter by battling a tough opponent in his family’s homeland. However, the fun will not stop with the UFC event. He will already be in Ireland, so he might as well take advantage of the opportunity.

“My wife is coming out there, and we’re going to stay for 10 days,” Donovan elaborated. “We’re renting a car and seeing the southwest. My family’s from Cork, which is southwest, and we’re going to head down there. The plan is no plan. We’re just going to drive, and wake up late, and have fun. I’m so excited for it.”

Donovan may be excited for his trip, but he is even more focused on the task at hand, which is beating Krylov and getting back in the win column. This will get him back to the .500 mark as a UFC fighter and earn him the right to maintain his spot on the roster of the biggest promotion in MMA. This may be the trip of a lifetime, but his job is his future.

“Obviously, I’m looking to finish the fight. Obviously, I’m looking for a win. My back is against the wall, but I’m not viewing it like that. I’m going out there just like every other fight. I want to go out there and fight hard. I want to entertain people. I want to give them the type of fight they want to see, but I also want to get the win.”

Donovan would like to thank all of his coaches and training partners at Elevation Fight Team and Easton Training Center, including Leister Bowling, Christian Allen and Eliot Marshall. He would also like to thank his wife, Julie, and his management team at Paradigm Sports Management. He would also like to thank his sponsors: GTG, Jackson’s Sports Grill, Flatirons Community Church and Dethrone. Follow Cody on Twitter: @donnybrookcody