It’s one thing to get injured in competition. It’s entirely different — and far worse — for an athlete to suffer an injury in training.
UFC flyweight and The Ultimate Fighter 26 alum Shana Dobson was ready to get back into the cage and get back in the win column after suffering her second career loss to Lauren Mueller at UFC on Fox 29. It was October, and she was prepping hard as a member of Team Lloyd Irvin in preparation to travel overseas in less than a month and a half to face Yanan Wu at UFC Fight Night 141.
“I got injured in training,” Dobson told Combat Press. “You know how that goes. I feel like it always happens out of the fight. I ended up getting that addressed. I was supposed to fight on the China card back in November, but right before that, I got injured, so I had to drop out of that fight. I had to give myself time to heal and time to recover, so I could get back, and I’m feeling stronger than ever. It’s a crazy thing. Not to sound cliché, but it’s a minor setback for a major comeback. That’s what I’m going to do. I believe everything happens for a reason, and I believe that happened so I could come back even harder and even stronger.”
Dobson has had a relatively short career as a pro MMA fighter. She went 2-1 before her appearance on TUF, and her stint on the reality show ended quickly with a loss in the elimination round to Roxanne Modafferi. She did pick up a win over Ariel Beck at the finale event, but then she dropped the fight to Mueller. Now, she sits at 3-2 as a pro.
“I’m getting my ground in,” Dobson said. “I’m training with this high-class [Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu] artist under the world-class training of Lloyd Irvin. We’ve got great coaches all the way from our wrestling to our Muay Thai and our boxing. We haven’t changed my style. We’re just adding to it, and making sure that, since I don’t have years and years of experience like my colleagues, we’re making up for that.”
With just five pro fights under her belt, there is still room for improvement. It’s been over a year since Dobson has seen the inside of the cage, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been getting better. Now, she’s set to return to action at the super-stacked UFC 241 card on Saturday night in Anaheim, Calif.
“Training has been great,” Dobson said. “I’m doing good on my weight cut. I still have a ton of energy. I’m covering all my bases. I’m just excited to get back into the cage and show everybody what’s been happening over the past year and some months.”
Dobson used to be a full-time teacher working in a school. Since her injury, she has taken steps to shift her focus.
“So, I’ve actually switched careers — switched jobs,” Dobson explained. “I’m still working with children in a home-school thing. I’m working less hours in the day, so I can train twice a day now. I’m training in the morning and at night, which is also helping me get my hours in.
“During the day, I’m home-schooling. I’m going in and working with kids in their homes. It’s a little bit of a switch-up. When I was teaching, I was used to working with low-income families and Title I schools, and now I’m working with kids whose parents can afford a private teacher to come into the home. It’s a little different, but I’m able to work less, so I can get my two-a-days in.”
On Saturday, the hard-hitting Dobson faces former Legacy Fighting Alliance flyweight champion Sabina Mazo. Mazo is coming off her first pro loss, which came in her UFC debut in March against Maryna Moroz. The 22-year-old Colombian is known for her stand-up game, which poses an interesting match-up for Dobson, who is highly skilled on the ground.
“She’s primarily a striker,” Dobson said. “She has some decent ground, off her back. She’s long. She’s got kicks, obviously. You know what I mean? We’re prepared for everything. She’s never fought nobody like me, and she’s not going to be ready for the look I’m going to give her.”
Dobson is confident in her training and ready to take a big leap in her career.
“I’m looking to get back in there and make a name for myself,” Dobson said. “When I started off, I wanted to face some tough competition, so I could have a shot at the belt. And although the division has stacked itself up and we got a killer at the top of the division, I’m not taking my eye off that goal.
“I’m just trying to do it the right way. I’m just trying to work my way up and go out there and put on exciting fights — keep putting girls on their ass — so that the fans can see and my bosses can see that I’m an extreme asset to this division.”