No, the title of this feature is not a comment on Drew Dober’s intelligence. In fact, from a figurative perspective, the UFC lightweight fighter is anything but dense. However, physically, he is built like the proverbial brick shithouse.
Dober is a veteran of MMA and a staunch professional. Even though he typically walks around at least 20 pounds over his fighting weight, he has never missed his point on the scales. He’s not exactly killing himself in the sauna right up until weigh-ins, either.
“I work with nutritionist George Lockhart, and I behave like a professional and am disciplined, so it was never, like, outrageously hard,” Dober told Combat Press. “I am a dense individual, and you can’t categorize every fighter in a one-call protocol. Me and Neil Magny may weigh the same, but I can cut a lot more weight than he can, because I’m denser. My muscles are going to carry more water. I can fluctuate a ton — a lot more than Neil does. Neil should fight at 170 [pounds], which he does, and I can float between 170 and 155.”
In most cases, a seasoned, intelligent athlete knows his own body a lot better than an athletic commission, who is only looking at paper. So, when the UFC proposed a lightweight match-up between Dober and Frank Camacho for UFC on Fox 27 in Charlotte, N.C., Dober naturally took it. However, the state’s governing body didn’t seem to approve.
“I loved the match-up, agreed to it, and even signed the bout agreement,” Dober explained. “I guess the reason the fight wasn’t announced, or it took a while, is because they just had a hard time getting the fight licensed at 155. From what I was told, Camacho had missed weight twice, and they didn’t want to license him at 155. I’m pretty sure the California Athletic Commission objected, which was making it difficult for me. I just told them that we could do it at welterweight just to make the fight happen.”
The only problem with this, from Dober’s perspective, is that he is not built like his teammate Magny. Dober is much thicker and carries more weight that he can lose in a healthy manner. The native of Omaha, Neb., has been fighting as a pro for nine years, amassing an 18-8 record. He has mostly fought at 155 pounds. Most of his wins have come by way of stoppage and most of his losses were decisions, so he hasn’t exactly shown to lose a lot of power, skill or stamina by cutting weight. However, again, these commissions work strictly off of paper.
“I requested a catchweight at 165 [pounds], so that people did not think I was moving up a weight class permanently, because this is not a permanent move,” Dober said. “It’s relaxing for me, because I don’t have to worry about the weight cut as much, but, immediately after this fight, I’ll be looking to fight at 155 again.
“Not only did the commission get mad that I dropped from 175 to 155, but I blew back up to 183. But, they’re not taking into considering the amount of water I’m drinking [and] the amount of sodium. And when I’m stepping into a cage, I’m not worried about my weight — I’m worried about how hydrated I am. I’m over-hydrated going into the cage at 183.”
Several years ago, Dober made the move out to Team Elevation in Denver. These guys are not exactly known for doing things the wrong way. Outside of a deep stable of coaches, which include UFC vets Eliot Marshall and Cody Donovan, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts Christian Allen and Peter Straub, striking coaches Vinnie Lopez and Oscar Martinez, and NCAA Division I wrestling champion David Zabriskie, Dober also enlists the help of the aforementioned Lockhart and strength-and-conditioning coach Loren Landow. Dober is not carelessly cutting weight. The cut is just part of a well-oiled machine, and it has always worked out just fine. In his last fight, the proof was in the pudding.
Last July, Dober faced longtime veteran Josh Burkman, whose last knockout came nearly two years prior in a third-round loss to Patrick Cote. Dober wasted no time taking the fight to Burkman and was able to score a quick knockout only three minutes into the contest. Often when fighters are asked about learning experiences after a quick win, they will puff their chests out and act like that was the plan the whole time. While this might sometimes be the case, it has been proven time and time again that it is better to be humble in victory. Dober’s takeaway really reflects his intelligence as a fighter.
“Obviously, I thought it was great and wish they were all that simple,” Dober said. “But, if I’m going to put something to it, it was all mental. I’ve been struggling, or fluctuating, as far as my self-confidence and enthusiasm. In early 2017, I talked to a mental coach, and I’m just kind of being knowledgeable about who I am.
“I fight better when I’m positive. I fight better when I’m having fun. I fight better when I’m in the moment. And I just needed to start putting that stuff into practice. In my last fight, I just enjoyed being there and enjoyed being in the moment. I wasn’t dwelling on that third round when the first round hadn’t even started yet.”
Dober’s next fight, statistically speaking, will likely not be as easy. Camacho carries the same type of “live and die by the sword” approach to fighting as the Nebraskan does. This has all the makings of a very exciting fight.
“Both him and I are known for standing and trading and beating and dying for the company,” Dober said. “I think what Camacho is great at is also what I am great at. We can meet in the middle, toe-to-toe, and give everyone the ‘Fight of the Night,’ but I also want to showcase my improvements. Training with Team Elevation, I’m not just a grunt. I’ve been performing so much better than my last couple fights. I’m going to showcase that.”
Last year, Team Elevation parted ways with MusclePharm, which was the gym’s primary sponsor. The team moved their camp out of the supplement manufacturer’s facility in Northeast Denver. There was a bit of a shake-up within the team as they re-grouped at Easton Training Center, closer to downtown. While it seemed that Team Elevation might have been on the brink of disbanding, they actually came out much better after trimming the fat.
“We did lose, like, fair-weather teammates — teammates that were there for the publicity and media — but we did keep the core group of guys,” said Dober. “I’m really satisfied and really motivated by the core group of guys we have — the consistency, the motivation, the talent. Team Elevation is still strong. We just lost the guys who were halfway in and halfway out.”
Dober may be dense in physical form, but he has grown exponentially more intelligent throughout his fighting career. As a 26-fight vet who is still only 29 years old, he is really starting to come into his prime. His UFC on Fox 27 bout was bumped up to the main card, giving Dober the perfect position to shine at a nationally televised event. In 2018, he only has one goal.
“I’m going to get into that top 10,” Dober promised. “I’m going to fight as many times as I can and then I’m going to break into that top 10. That way, in 2019, I can aim for that gold.”
UFC on Fox 27 takes place on Saturday night at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte. It will be the promotion’s fourth event in the Queen City. Dober and Camacho will kick off the main card on Fox at 8 p.m. ET.
“It’s either going to be ‘Performance of the Night’ or ‘Fight of the Night,’ one of the two,” said Dober. “If you really like watching people play punch-face for 15 minutes and somebody getting knocked out during that time, this is the fight to watch.”