From losing a unanimous decision to his future brother-in-law, Nick Hein, at UFC Fight Night Munoz vs. Mousasi, to the craziness that was the phantom submission loss to Leandro Silva at Fight Night 62, it’s safe to say Dober has had his fair share of memorable moments inside the Octagon.
The 28-year-old from Omaha, Nebraska is currently making noise in the UFC’s lightweight division and this Saturday (July 29) fights Josh Burkman at UFC 214 in Anaheim, California.
Ahead of the fight Dober, 17-8 (1 NC), caught up with Fighters Only’s Tony Reid to discuss weight cuts, globetrotting, premature stoppages and baking.
Q: I hear you had an interesting time the first time you attempted to cut to featherweight. Can you tell us about that?
Drew Dober: I am going to put myself on the spot. I was an amateur and I was cutting down to 145 pounds. I wanted to see if I could make the lower weight class. In the process of dieting and training, the lack of calories really got to me and I got pretty nutty. In one training session I had my training partner’s back and I was trying to sink in the rear-naked choke. It was like two minutes in and I could not get the choke. I was losing my temper. I was done with it. I tried to end the match and get him off me. He just turned into my guard. He thought we were still grappling and I just up-kicked him in the face, stood up and walked out of the gym.
Q: You are fighting in the United States this time around but have spent the better part of your UFC career globetrotting. Are you cool with that?
DD: I tend to always get these fights in Berlin, in Mexico, in Brazil and now in Canada. I’m used to it. I look forward to turning these fans into fans of mine.
Q: At UFC Fight Night 62 you were in one of the more surreal fights in recent UFC memory. You were actively defending a guillotine choke and referee Eduardo Herdy stepped in and stopped the fight. What was your interaction with the referee when he stopped the fight?
DD: I could hear exactly what was being said. It might have been in Portuguese but the referee was talking to my opponent, Leandro, during the fight. I was confused and I didn’t know why he would even be talking to him during the fight. There was no need for it. In the submission I was just continuing to improve position. The next thing I notice was his hand gesture, calling off the fight. That’s when I threw my little fit.
Q: What was going through your mind when that happened?
DD: I didn’t know why it happened and then I wondered how it even happened. The thought didn’t even cross my mind. There was no tunnel vision. I wasn’t in danger. I didn’t pass out. I didn’t tap. Nothing. And the ref just called off the fight. I was confused.
Q: The MMA world lost its collective mind when that happened. What was the most memorable response you got in support of your cause?
DD: When I got back to the locker room everyone’s phones were blowing up. I got tons of support and tons of love from Dana White and other UFC staff members who I had never heard of, as well as from other fighters like Miesha Tate, Bryan Caraway and Kenny Florian. The list goes on. I felt like I should have been very disappointed, but to see all these other people so disappointed lightened up the hurt for me.
Q: You had an interesting conversation with Dana White post-fight.
DD: That was one thing I did not expect. Dana White called me into his office and after saying he thought I tapped and that he didn’t know why I even fight in the UFC, he told me he was kidding around, said the stoppage was complete BS and that he was going to compensate me as if I won and he would do everything he can to get the fight overturned. That just showed me how much the UFC and Dana has the fighters’ backs.
Q: You started training in combat sports at 14 years old after watching your first UFC event. What event was it and what fighters inspired you?
DD: It was Frank Shamrock vs. Jeremy Horn. I had the pleasure of meeting guys who had trained with Jeremy Horn. When I was 13 I was training in mixed martial arts but didn’t know what cage fighting really was and didn’t know it would lead to a career. I was just learning technique and having fun. When I saw that fight, the fight went to the ground and Frank finished with a knee-bar. It was something to see. I didn’t realize these guys are actual athletes doing proper technique in a real-life situations. I wanted to do that. At the age of 14 I decided I wanted to be a cage fighter.
Q: So you worked as a baker before becoming a professional mixed martial artist?
DD: (Laughs) It wasn’t prior – it was during! As a professional fighter you are not living in luxury, especially when you are fighting in smaller organizations. The way the cards were dealt I was offered the position as a baker. It was a job. I would work over eight hours decorating doughnuts and baking cookies, all while still training and fighting. It was definitely fun, aside from the fact I had to chew a lot of gum in preparation for a fight. It was tough leading up to the fight with the weight cut but it made for a great celebration after the fight. Actually, if I wasn’t a fighter, one of my dreams is to own a diner or a café. I think it would be really cool to work in the diner or café and own it as well.
Q: What fight would you want fans to watch in order to see the real Drew Dober?
DD: That’s tough because each fight is like one of my babies. They are each a story. The Nick Hein fight was great. It was a back and forth war and I was bleeding all over the place. I had a fight against a man named Tony Sims in PFC. We had the ‘Fight of the Year’ in 2013. If the readers want to go on YouTube and search for that fight I would hope they would watch that one. I got my ass kicked in the first round and came back to win the second and third rounds. It was a fantastic fight.
Q: If you could fight anyone in any weight class, who would you choose to fight?
DD: I would love to have fought Anderson Silva. Everyone wants to fight the best. In our primes, and in the same weight class, I would have loved to fight Wanderlei Silva. We both have similar styles in that we are constantly moving forward and brawling. That would be a ‘Fight of the Night’.
Q: I hear you are a pretty big gamer. Have you always been a gamer?
DD: In a word, yes. It has been a central part of my life for most of my life and it was actually one of the reasons I got into the martial arts to begin with. Some of the games I played as a kid led me to martial arts. Even Dragonball Z, Jean Claude Van Damme and his movies, things like that led me to pursuing the martial arts.
Q: What were some of your favorite games growing up?
DD: Final Fantasy was big. I loved the RPG Fantasy games. The Star Wars video games triggered a complete obsession for all things Star Wars. I also liked BioWare, Mass Effect and games like that.