Sheldon Doll and Graham Park will vie for the vacant light-heavyweight championship at Unified MMA 38. It’s a classic Alberta MMA matchup with a Lethbridge compatriot taking on a representative from Edmonton. On a more specific, localized level it adds another chapter to the respectful competitive rivalry between CMC and Shaved Bears. It was great getting time to talk with Sheldon Doll ahead of this big tilt. Check out my latest piece for MyMMANews below!
Sheldon’s journey so far
Sheldon Doll is chomping at the bit to get back to the cage. His last fight was September 2018 with injuries to opponents resulting in projected April bouts not coming to fruition. Doll has a pretty simple secret to keep himself fresh and ready to go for whenever that phone rings with a fight offer. He said, “I pretty much stay in shape year-round. It’s just a matter of keeping the injuries down and training smart.”
That aforementioned last fight took place against Marcus Hicks who is a veteran with close to 50 MMA fights. To finish an opponent like that so emphatically in the first round meant a lot to Doll. Doll stated, “It was just awesome to be in the cage with someone with that many fights. To be able to see things and react and play things to my pace.”
Things are finally going at Doll’s pace and on multiple levels. This extends to him finding consistency in his career which initially began at 3-3 in his first 6 buts. Now riding a five-fight win streak ahead of a huge title fight, Doll has some perspectives on what has changed in him over the years. He said, “Part of it was just consistency. Always continuing to train. It was just a matter of being in the right gym.”
Doll continued, “CMC was obviously able to have a very consistent amount of practice time and teammates around. The other thing was just overtraining. I would consistently do two or three sessions a day and I was peaking too early. I wouldn’t perform because I peaked too early and didn’t feel great.”
Unified MMA 38
When I asked Doll for thoughts on his opponent Graham Park, he said, “He’s a great competitor. He’s got a good skillset. Clearly he’s always in shape. It’s going to be awesome competing against him.” Beyond the title that’s on the line, there are additional stakes attached to this tilt. The winner could also become the consensus top light heavyweight on the Canadian circuit. Doll said, “I would say this hopefully sets us up as the number one guy for either of us.”
This big championship fight marks the Unified MMA debut for Doll. The idea of getting jitters by being in a new promotion isn’t something that seems to phase Doll in the least. He said, “At the end of the day, we walk into a cage. The smell of the arena and the sounds and the lights, it’s all the same. The environment is the same and as long as you prep mentally for the environment, it doesn’t really matter where it is.”
Doll is also taking kinesiology in school and is educating himself on something that has tremendous benefits to his MMA endeavors. Sheldon Doll said, “The biomechanics and ergonomics of human movement. By being able to apply that now to fighting, it’s always been very important. They kind of come hand in hand together.”
Doll’s last five outings have clocked in at just over five minutes cumulatively. This path of destruction might paint the picture that Doll is a frenetically paced fighter who’s charging forward and looking to force the finish. Anyone who has seen Doll compete knows this isn’t the case as he’s quite composed and analytical. When I asked Doll about that dynamic, he said, “I’ve always just been able to see opportunity within the fight. When you can keep a level head and can keep calm while still kind of keeping it a bit of a chaotic energy harnessed a bit, you’re able to see opportunities and come with a finish.”
CMC and the road ahead
This bout is one more chapter in the storied CMC vs Shaved Bears legacy that continues to grow over the years. When I mentioned that to Doll he said, “We’re both big gyms that are representing Canada on an international scale. We’re just trying to further our careers and Canadian martial arts in general. So the respect has to be there.”
Training with the Meins and the gym culture at CMC has shaped Dolls career in a profound way. He said, “When you’ve got guys like Jordan (Mein) and Lee (Mein) and Jared and all these guys who have so many fights, It’s they’ve seen every aspect to a fight. They can offer a very specific kind of insight”. Doll continued,”I feel like I’m certainly the best version of myself right now. And I can still see myself improving which I’m really happy with.”
Doll is also looking to train at American Top Team and the UFC PI in the near future. When I asked Doll about what his grand motivations are, he said, “At the end of the day, I’m looking to represent Canada. I feel like we’re underrepresented on the bigger shows. It’s slowly changing but I do hope this win will be the thing to catapult me onto the bigger shows. I have had some kind of managerial talks with people who’re representing bigger guys.”
The event goes live at River Cree Resort and Casino in Enoch, Alberta. If you can’t be there live and in person, check out the event on FITE TV. The card goes on Friday, September 27th at 9 PM ET. Canada’s top light heavyweight will be crowned and there are plenty more can’t miss bouts that are bolstering Unified MMA 38!