“The Doberman” ended up losing on “The Ultimate Fighter Finale” but wound up with perhaps the best career of anyone on that season of the show. His season was one of the first that spotlighted the show’s downward trend in talent, which didn’t really become apparent for a couple years. It was the last season where you’d say “man, they have a ton of talent and a bunch of guys who shouldn’t be anywhere near the Octagon” … now it’s “most of these guys are ok but not great.”
Sarafian should’ve fought in the inaugural Brazil season of the show but got hurt the week before the card; thus he makes his debut here against another failed finalist.
Fight Breakdown – Dollaway’s game plan is a simple one, always has been. Get the fight to the ground, work submissions and wait until the round ends before letting his opponent up. His submission work is really underrated, too, as he’s active on top and not the type to accrue riding time. His first UFC submission win was by Peruvian Necktie; Dollaway’s overall positional dominance is something to behold at times. His ability to use submissions and top control masks his one problem: he doesn’t have the best of chins. It’s not like a stiff wind blows and he’s unconscious but he’s been planked enough in the UFC that it’s not a strength. Jason Miller rocked him several times during that fight, as well, and it’s something he disguises well with his relentless takedowns. Dollaway’s skillset might not be the most aesthetically pleasing to some but he does it well enough to always be right on the cusp of becoming a top fighter without ever becoming one. If Ed Herman looked like a frat brother of Alpha Alpha he’d be C.B Dollaway, at least in that historical sort of regard.
Sarafian is so far an unknown; we don’t know his ceiling because all we’ve seen is fights on “TUF” and nothing more against potential UFC level competition. He’s got a solid all around game with a good judo/BJJ background. He looked good on the show but hasn’t faced anyone of Dollaway’s caliber just yet. Beating up guys on TUF these days doesn’t mean nearly as much as it used to.
Why It Matters – Dollaway’s ceiling is pretty established right now; he’s a good, not great, fighter who’ll probably never crack the Top 10 but is a good test for guys on the way up and down. He’s not quite a gatekeeper to the elite of the middleweight division … but he’s close to it. There’s a group of fighters who are ranked somewhere in the 11-17 range of the division or so for extended periods of time who function as test fighters in a way, kind of like buying a house. If you win good things will happen; you’re moving into elite territory but haven’t been approved for the mortgage just yet. If you lose then it’s back to renting a place somewhere, needing to build up your credit rating some more and whatnot.
Sarafian is getting thrown into fairly deep waters in his first fight in the UFC; Zuffa must think a lot of him and his abilities to give him a really tough fight in his first outing (even if it’s in his native Brazil). A win here and he immediately has some solid bonafides as it would be a significant (but not mind-blowing) upset.
Prediction - Dollaway