Drew Dober had to battle just to make it to UFC Lincoln in the contracted weight class.
The Nebraska Athletic Commission (NAC) would not license Dober at lightweight, because it was honoring the California State Athletic Commission’s (CSAC) ruling that he must move up to a higher weight class after not complying with CSAC rules last year.
At UFC 214, Dober came into fight night weighed 183 pounds — an increase of 18 percent above the lightweight limit. CSAC weight-cutting rules state that if a fighter comes in at more than 10 percent of the contracted weight on fight day, that fighter can be recommended to move up. In Dober’s case, CSAC doctors said he must move up or be cleared by a physician and more.
When Dober was scheduled to fight Jon Tuck at UFC Lincoln in a lightweight bout, which is scheduled for Saturday night, the Nebraska commission said it would not approve Dober to fight at less than 165 pounds, based on the CSAC ruling. Dober said he had to have a doctor’s clearance, get a nutritionist (George Lockhart) and be subjected to random weight checks by CSAC via FaceTime.
“I had to jump through some hoops,” Dober said.
Dober, 29, was finally cleared by CSAC to fight at lightweight Aug. 10, when he weighed 168 pounds — within the 10 percent mark above the lightweight division. The note on his profile in the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC) database was removed and Dober could continue on to fight Tuck at 155.
Dober doesn’t love CSAC’s methods, though he appreciates what they’re trying to do, which is curb extreme weight cutting. He just doesn’t feel like that’s what he is doing himself. Dober said his weight cuts are always smooth.
“My body can fluctuate a ton of weight, a ton of water,” Dober said. “When you have a short, stocky build, you can do bigger weight cuts, because I’m really just dehydrating muscles. And the more muscles you have, the more water you can fluctuate.”
There’s one main reason why Dober said he doesn’t move up to 170. At just 5-foot-8, he believes he would be at a disadvantage in terms of height and reach. Dober said he trains in Colorado with Neil Magny, a 6-foot-3 welterweight, and the disparity in physical attributes can make a difference.
If he could change one thing about weight cutting, Dober said it would be the addition of a 165-pound weight class. That division was officially added to the Unified Rules of MMA by the ABC last year. The UFC just has not reciprocated and added the weight class. Dober is holding out hope that it will happen before long.
“The UFC also said they didn’t want women in the UFC,” he said. “They also said a bunch of other things. I think through time, eventually there’s gonna be more weight classes. … It’s really all politics. But as a fighter, I’m just a little monkey. Until then, I have to decide whether I cut a couple pounds to get to 170 or cut more than 10 percent to get to 155.”
Dober (19-8, 1 NC), who beat Frank Camacho in a welterweight bout his last fight in January, said he’d have no trouble staying within that 10 percent number if there were a 165-pound division. He said other fighters he has spoken to — lightweights who walk around in the low 180s — agree with him.
“I don’t get that big [compared to current welterweights],” Dober said. “I usually float at like 180. So 10 percent of 180, that’s the 165-pound weight class.”
Right now, though, Dober is just happy this fight with Tuck is going off. He’s a Nebraska native and has not fought in his home state in five years, before his run in the UFC. Dober is giddy to be home, where he’s already been greeted by his mother, sister and nephew at the start of fight week.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Dober said. “I didn’t want it to fail.”
While he respects Tuck, Dober believes he’s bringing more to the table Saturday night.
“I think that what makes us different is where we match technique, I come in with a lot more passion, determination and enthusiasm,” Dober said. “I think what we’ve seen in my fights, I have knockout power and do well in a fire fight. So whether it’s Performance of the Night, Fight of the Night, whatever fight we’re in, I feel like I can excel.”
Dober said he’s looking to win and perhaps fight in the future at 165 pounds. First, though, he’ll relish in victory in front of his home state fans. That’s the plan.
“When I win, I’m just going to enjoy the moment, enjoy being in Nebraska,” Dober said. “Everyone is always looking so far ahead, you’ve gotta take time to just enjoy this very moment. So, I’m fighting in Nebraska, I’m fighting in front of my friends and family and the people that supported me since I was 18. When I win, I just want to enjoy that moment.
“And then after that, once the dust settles, then please 165. Or we’ll figure out what’s next.”