Comedian Tom Segura has a pretty funny bit about that person who says something is “their thing.” He goes on to provide examples that truly qualify as a personal “thing” versus things that everyone actually likes to do. An example of the latter is travel. Of course, everyone likes to travel — for the most part — but not everyone has the opportunity to travel to different countries, especially on different continents.
One of the benefits of working for a large MMA organization, like the UFC, is the opportunity to travel the world. While some fighters may have short-lived careers, many of them still have the chance to take some cool trips.
Nebraska native Drew Dober’s UFC career has been anything but short-lived. He spent the first four years of his professional career fighting within the confines of the Midwestern United States, minus a short stint on The Ultimate Fighter reality show. In November 2013, when he finally made his UFC debut, he traveled out to Las Vegas for his first true fight in a different part of the United States. This was only the beginning.
In the last five years, Dober has fought all over the United States and in four foreign countries, two of which are on different continents. Needless to say, he has a love for travel. So, it was no surprise that after his last fight, which happened to take place back in Nebraska for the first time in over five years, his plan was to hit the road.
Dober’s plan after his fight with Jon Tuck was to travel to Europe.
“Me and my gal went out to Paris and Barcelona,” Dober told Combat Press. “We ate a ton of food, drank a lot of wine, and walked it all off by sightseeing. You can’t really put your finger on one thing that was the best part. I think just experiencing other cultures is the best part.”
In his UFC tenure, Dober has experienced a lot of different cultures both inside and outside of the cage. He has fought a German in Germany, a Brazilian in Brazil, a Mexican in Mexico, and a Canadian in Canada.
Dober’s UFC career is really a tale of two cities. From late 2013 to mid-2015, Dober was 1-3-1 in the Octagon. In the last three years, however, he is 5-1 and now rides a three-fight winning streak into his upcoming bout. Not many fighters even get the chance to redeem themselves after winning only one fight out of five. So, how did he get on the right side of the street so quickly?
“Honestly, I think it’s just having the right camp,” Dober suggested. “I’m just taking the right resources — I mean, these guys know what they’re talking about — George Lockhart with nutrition, and I have a mental coach. Of course, my wrestling, jiu-jitsu and striking coaches are awesome. The plan is just working.
“I’ve learned so much from each fight. It’s just the technique I used to beat Jon Tuck. There were ways I could’ve possibly finished that fight, you know? So, after that, it was just like, ‘OK, how can we improve?’ Like, even the parts I’m doing well, how do I up that game? I spend more time watching film on myself than any other person.”
After Dober picked up a unanimous decision over Tuck in Lincoln, he took a little time off and then got back in the gym. However, as the year started winding down, he couldn’t get an opponent. Finally, he found out he was headed back to another Midwestern state he hasn’t fought in for several years. Dober is set to take on Beneil Dariush on Saturday night in Wichita, Kan., as part of the UFC on ESPN+ 4 card.
“We were just up and down trying to find a guy,” Dober said. “We were trying to fight in December, and we were trying to fight in January, and we were trying to fight in February, and there were possible names and stuff like that. We ended up putting Dariush together [for] March at the beginning of January or maybe end of December.
“I was super excited. Dariush is awesome, and I remember watching him, thinking he’s one of those guys who’s super talented. And having an opportunity to test myself against a great martial artist makes me just super, super excited. That day, I went into the gym with a huge smile on my face and a lot of energy. I’ve got to say, I’m just really excited about it.”
At the moment, the UFC lightweight division is sort of the proverbial dumpster fire. It is easily one of the most talent-rich divisions in any MMA organization, but it also means that talented guys like Dober and Dariush need to scratch and claw just for a spot in the top 15. With current champion Khabib Nurmagomedov on the bench serving a suspension, and Tony Ferguson sidestepping an opportunity to fight for the interim strap, third-ranked Dustin Poirier will be fighting featherweight champ Max Holloway for the interim lightweight belt. There is still a possibility of a rematch between Nurmagomedov and UFC cash cow Conor McGregor, too. This has created a huge logjam. Guys need to take what they can get. In Dober’s case, this means Dariush.
“I think it’s a great match-up,” Dober said. “Anyone currently in the top 10, top five, I think I’m a good match-up for. I think Dariush and I, in the first round, will stand and slug each other out. And then my improved wrestling is just going to prevent him from taking me down, and I’m going to look to finish in the second or third round.”
A finish is imperative for Dober when trying to wade through the aforementioned logjam. With he and Dariush only having seven combined stoppage losses in 49 combined pro fights, this is shaping up to be an entertaining fight. This time around, Dober is not so much thinking about international travel as he is about staying busy.
“That’s the word of my resolution — busy,” Dober stated. “I want to fight often, I want to fight well, and I want to fight fantastically. I want to have as many fights as I possibly can.”
The UFC has allowed Dober to travel the world. While that may be his thing, it only makes sense that he’s come full circle in his career. His second Midwestern fight in a row is his chance to extend his longest string of wins in over five years. It will also get him that much closer to cracking into the UFC rankings.