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Joe Doerksen Injures Hands, Hopes for Return on New Year's Eve

Fifteen months ago, Joe Doerksen was handed his walking papers from the UFC, but since he's racked up four straight victories and has become a top player in Sengoku's middleweight division.

Doerksen spoke with FanHouse on Friday about his TKO win over Takenori Sato at Sengoku 10 and updates us on his injured hands that will count him out of middleweight title fight against Jorge Santiago in November.

Ray Hui: Congratulations on the win. What was your game plan coming into Takenori Sato?

Joe Doerksen: Just basically when we were training to make sure I was in really good shape and be able to go hard for the full three rounds for 100 miles per hour and working a lot on my footwork. He was left-handed so we were always working to step over to the left-hand side and throw a lot of right hands and a lot of right legs. And of course when we hit the floor, I was pretty comfortable and confident there as well. Everything kind of went according to plan. You never really know exactly how it's going to go but it turned out to be a really good fight. We traded a little bit on the feet, we hit the floor, then we got back up on the feet. That happened a few times so I was really happy with the fight altogether.

You must have been especially happy with your hands. You dropped him, you can say three times in the entire fight.

Yeah, I mean I think that's the best my hands have ever looked. I've been working hard on it the last few years, but the last year or so my confidence level has gone up. I don't know if I've gotten that much better but my confidence has come up. I've been more confident throwing and obviously the more you land the more confident you get and you throw even more. It was good. I wasn't throwing any wild punches. I wasn't flailing, I was finding my mark when I was throwing. It felt good and hopefully I get to do a little more of that every time I fight.

A couple times he took you down, you reversed it rather smoothly. Was that something you worked on specifically against Sato?

Not specifically for him, just lately, the same we've been working on my hands, we've been working on my wrestling as well. Typically I've always been a jiu-jitsu guy, hanging on my back and looking for the submission. I'm getting real tired of that. I want to be more aggressive and fight a little bit harder to get on top. The last year we've been working a lot on my wrestling, and takedown defense, and basically changing my mindset rather than being comfortable on my back.

One minute left the referee stood you up even though you had just practically taken full mount. What did he say to you and what exactly happened there?

What he said to me I honestly don't remember. I'm not even sure I understood him at the time. They are pretty clear on the rules that if there's no action the referee will call for action and I heard him say action twice which means the third time he's going to stand us up no matter what. I just really think from the angle that he was watching from where he was standing – I progressed, I moved forward with my position – I just really don't think he saw my left leg go over Sato's leg. I don't think he saw me take the mount. I wasn't too upset about it. I knew that probably he just didn't see what happened and he's just doing his job the best he could, and I was so comfortable in that fight, I didn't care if we were standing or on the floor. I knew that if he stood us up it probably wasn't going to be the worst thing for me. Sure enough, right after that happened, I landed a few big shots and ended the fight.

Unfortunately you hit him so hard that you messed up both your hands. How are your hands and what's the recovery time?

I was convinced they were both broken just from the amount of pain I was in, but we x-rayed both hands and the doctor called me this morning and said there was no broken bones, there's no fractures. And I was really surprised cause my hands are still hurting pretty good. The right one is getting better, but the left is still pretty bad. He said most likely we're looking at -- the ligaments that connect the bones are probably partially torn -- he said recovery time was about the same. Six weeks for them to grow back together. If I'm still having a lot of pain after six weeks then we're looking at surgery to put the ligaments back together. I think that if I'm careful and I take care of myself I probably won't need surgery. I should be able to take the time to heal up and not get back too soon, I should be able to train in four to six weeks. Right now I'm going to take a couple weeks to relax, hang out with my family and maybe go on vacation, and we'll see where we are at in about a month.

Once you're ready, are you looking to get on the New Year's Eve card?

It's really up to the staff of Sengoku to decide when I fight next. I know it's probably going to be either December or February. My personal preference would be New Year's Eve. I just think that would be the coolest thing in the world. For me that would be a lot of fun. As soon as I'm healthy, I'll fight whenever they want. If they left it up to me, yeah, I'd ask for December 31st. I've always wanted to fight in Japan on New Year's Eve. That's about as good as it gets.

Is there a chance you'll be Jorge Santiago for the Sengoku middleweight title?

That was talked about before the fight and he's fighting Nov. 7, and that's really not flexible. He's fighting on Nov. 7 no matter what. Probably because of the injury with my hand -- I don't think I'll be ready for the 7th. Had I not been injured it probably would have been me, possibly. I know he's definitely fighting on the 7th, and they are probably going to find him someone else to fight, and if my contract gets renewed, then possibly we'll face off sometime next year.

So you have no fights left right now under your current Sengoku contract?

No, I have one fight left. It's probably going to be done December or February and I doubt very much that Santiago will defend his title on two shows that close together.

You're goal had been to compile some wins to get back in the UFC. Now that you've won four in a row, are you still looking at that or would you rather stay with Sengoku?

I've always been treated well by the UFC. I have no problems going back there in the future. But right now fighting in Japan is seemingly working out really well for me. I'm in no hurry to leave Japan. I think I'd like to stay there for a little while and see where it takes me. The fans seems to really like me and I really enjoy it there. I could probably see myself going back there another time, but for now I'm happy with where I'm at. But again, this business is unpredictable. You never know. I say I'm not going back there anytime soon and next thing you know, two weeks later I'm back there. You just don't know.

You've been putting the extra effort in by studying Japanese.

Yeah, I've taken some Japanese lessons a few months leading to this fight and I'm really enjoying it and having a lot of fun with it. Definitely different than English and sometimes difficult but always interesting and sometimes a lot of fun, so I'm going to keep going with that and as long as I keep fighting in Japan, I'm going to keep studying that and see if I can get a little better at it. In North America we expect the athletes to come here from another country to learn to speak English. We just expect it without even thinking about it, so I try to have that same attitude going to Japan. I'm fighting for a Japanese audience, I think it's important for me to learn to speak a little bit of their language to connect with their fans a little better and so far it seems to be working.

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