Drew Dober (19-8) is that one guy on the team that you can count on to make sure everyone is having a good day. It’s hard to stay in a bad mood when all 5’8″ (relatively small standing next to teammate Curtis Blaydes) of Dober is coming at you with a smile and a high-five. Regardless of whether you are a top ten UFC veteran or a brand new amateur, Drew Dober has the ability to make each competitor feel valuable. Not every day is a walk in the park, but even when he is having his own struggles Dober still manages to inspire those around him.
Just a kid from Omaha, Dober is a lightweight fighter who has long-awaited the chance to perform in his home state of Nebraska. His eleventh fight under the UFC banner is slated for August 25th in Lincoln, less than an hour from where it all began.
You have been at this a long time. What do you remember about the first time you walked into a martial arts gym?
“Complete lack of coordination. Two left feet. It was like learning to dance. Aggressive dancing. It was bad.”
Despite going through the initial phase of not knowing what the heck he was doing, Dober quickly realized the value of martial arts.
“I remember thinking that this is something that can physically work on the street. I was thirteen at a hybrid youth martial arts gym. It was like a potluck of martial arts. A little muay thai, karate, kickboxing, wrestling . . .
One time I stuck around for a cardio kickboxing class. Afterword I saw all these grown men walking in wearing gis. I was like ‘What are they doing?’ That was when I was introduced to jiu jitsu and next thing I knew I was a thirteen-year-old learning to grapple with grown men. Not long after that, I watched my first cage fight. It was Frank Shamrock against Jeremy Horn.”
If you had not become a professional fighter what you would you have done?
“I ask myself that daily. If I hadn’t found fighting I would be a completely different person – morally, ethically and everything. I was in eighth grade when I decided that this was going to either be a real career or an obsessive hobby.”
How did you make your way to Denver, Colorado to with Elevation Fight Team?
“It was a slow process. I had taken fights in Colorado and I had one fight against Tony Sims. I won a super close split decision. We got in touch via Facebook and he invited me to come train out here. So I came out on a training vacation. Colorado had what I needed and I did a full training camp out here. That’s when I realized how important it was to get better all year round and not just when I was in camp.”
Before I joined team Elevation I fought a couple of guys on the team. It’s funny now that these same coaches were coaching against me five years ago or so.
Training with Team Elevation has made me focus on being a better cage fighter. I was training in a lot of traditional martial arts like muay thai, wrestling and jiu jitsu. The coaches here focused on being more proficient in the game I’m actually competing in. Having a connection with talented coaches that care about your well being is important. The coaches here not only help me to improve but also go beyond just wanting me to do well by caring about my health and success outside of the gym. It is really about comradery and team elevation encompasses that.”
This upcoming fight is at 155, where you have spent most of your career. Is that your happy place?
“I’m in between weight classes. I can compete at 155 or 170. Given my height, I feel like 155 is the more ideal weight class for me and I am more competitive at lightweight.”
Drew Dober has never missed weight in his 10 fight UFC career. His muscular physique is something that stays with him in and out of camp, but he was not always the solid athlete he is now.
“I was a scrawny nerd in high school. Competing in high school wrestling taught me work ethic.”
Even the fittest of athletes can’t eat clean all the time. What is your favorite food?
“My least favorite foods is a much shorter list. If I absolutely had to pick I would say either cheeseburgers or breakfast. By breakfast, I mean anything you can get at a diner. I love diner food.”
It’s always interesting to hear how fighters responded to the call initial call from the UFC. That would have been about 5 years ago now for you. What was that like?
“About time. Finally!… That may sound a little arrogant but I believed I had done enough to deserve a shot.
The funny part was that I was actually at a diner when I got the call. The offer was for a fight on two weeks notice. So, I had to spit out the food in my mouth and jump on a treadmill!”
No one can train 24/7, so what do you do when you aren’t at the gym?
“I play video games. I think that is common for a lot of fighters because many of us are hyperactive. We are constantly thinking about something and our hands want to keep moving. When I am playing a game I can kick my feet up but still stay mentally engaged.
I also read a lot. When I first moved to Denver I lived at the gym and Barnes and Noble. My most recent book was ‘Ready player one’ by Ernest Cline, which just came out as a movie. I like fiction because it’s an easy way to just be somewhere else.”
Drew Dober on UFC Fight Night 135
Dober is looking forward to showing off continual improvements in his technique and athletic ability against Jon Tuck (10-4) on UFC Fight Night 135 in Lincoln, Nebraska on August 25th. Fellow Elevation Fight Team teammate Cory Sandhaggen (8-1) will be making his second UFC appearance on the same card.
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