When the UFC on FX 7 fight card was released, the announcement of C.B. Dollaway vs. Daniel Sarafian as a co-main event seemed a curious choice. Dollaway has been very inconsistent during his time in the promotion while Sarafian is a virtual unknown outside of Brazil.
As it turns out, it was a great call.
The two fought the night's most closely contested and grueling bout, going to a three-round decision that saw Dollaway edge out the win. To the end, it was close, as Dollaway took a split decision by scores of 29-28, 29-28, 28-29.
"Daniel is a lot tougher than I anticipated," the exhausted American said afterward. "His wrestling was really good. He defended my takedowns easily. It surprised me. My hat's off to him.
The partisan crowd at the Ibirapuera Arena in Sao Paulo jeered the decision, but it was hardly clear-cut either way.
Dollaway clearly had the fight's most dominant moments, nearly finished Sarafian in the final seconds of the second round. As Sarafian went low, Dollaway perfectly timed an uppercut, catching Sarafian as he neared. Sarafian went to a knee and Dollaway swarmed, breaking out his high-powered offense in hunting for the finish. Sarafian looked to be in big trouble and ref Mario Yamasaki was taking a close look but Sarafian did just enough to keep the fight going and he was ultimately saved by the bell.
Sarafian had won the first, so everything was on the line in the final five minutes, and the two fought like it. It was a whirlwind of a round, with knockdowns, takedowns, dominant positions and reversals.
Neither man seemed sure of victory at the final horn, but it's possible that Dollaway's superior output and late takedown was the difference, even though he was later reversed.
According to FightMetric, Dollaway out-landed Sarafian 73-41 overall.
Dollaway is now 13-4 while Sarafian fell to 7-3 in his official UFC debut.