Drew Dober hopes UFC lightweight knockout record leads to bigger fights: ‘I can hang with the best in the world’
Drew Dober knows he dropped the ball earlier this year, but plans on that just being a speed bump in his run to the top.
Heading into 2023, Dober was a fighter on the rise. Riding a three-fight finishing streak that saw him crack the UFC’s top 15 at lightweight, Dober hoped to have a marquee year and move into title contention. Instead, the Nebraska native took a backwards step, getting finished by Matt Frevola at UFC 288 in May. This past Saturday though, Dober rebounded in impressive fashion, stopping Ricky Glenn in the first round at UFC Vegas 80 — and hopefully, reestablishing himself as a legitimate threat at 155 pounds.
“We all get caught sometimes,” Dober said on The MMA Hour. “The more times you roll the dice, the better chance you’re going to roll snake eyes. How did a KO win work with Adriano Martins? Because Islam Makhachev is still world champion. Matt Serra. The list can go on.
“We slipped up. That’s what happens. It’s more like, why? Why did I get caught? We kind of started believing in my hands and my chin, the giga-Chad, ‘We can do this with just these two things.’ That’s not what brought us there. … After the Frevola fight I had to remind myself, dance with the woman that brought you. How did we get to this knockout record? We did it through setups, movement, mixed martial arts. I was shooting takedowns and all that stuff when I wanted to prove that I deserved to be in the UFC. So we had to bring that back. [UFC] APEX, against Ricky Glenn, we had to prove I deserve to be there again.”
“It happens to us all,” Dober added when asked if he bought into his own hype. “I think it happened to Charles Oliveira when he fought Islam, it happened to Israel Adesanya when he fought [Sean] Strickland. There is a moment where we start reading the internet titles and we start believing it and it kind of just changes us a bit. I got humbled with Frevola and my daughter, and we’re back to proving it again.”
Dober’s win not only earned him his seventh performance bonus in the UFC, but it also earned him a record: The most knockouts in lightweight history. Dober’s nine knockouts put him over illustrious names like Dustin Poirier, B.J. Penn, Donald Cerrone, and Justin Gaethje, and while that is great company to be among already, he’s hoping that it may lead him to even more impressive opportunities in the future.
“One of the things I’ve never really thought about. It’s really cool,” Dober said of the record. “I like that stat. It’s really fun. I only just hope it adds a little bit of light and buzz to my name so that way we can work on the résumé. Having the amount of knockouts is great, but now I’m ready for the big and great, fantastic fights. Hopefully this record gets me these bigger fights.”
Following his impressive performance on Saturday, and the buzz that is starting to build around him, Dober may just get his wish. Add in that Bobby Green, who Dober knocked out just last year, scored a huge upset win over top-10 ranked Grant Dawson on Saturday, and Dober is hopeful he’ll get another shot at someone with a ranking next.
“‘Makes sense’ is different than what I want. What I want is like that Poirier, Michael Chandler, Conor McGregor [kind of fight],” Dober said. “Not for the money, the glam, the glitz, the women. I want it because I’m ready to collect some bruises from Poirier. I want that. What’s feasible? Diego Ferreira, we’ve tried to fight before. Jalin Turner. Paul Felder — he said he’s coming back, I think that would be a fun one. Dan Hooker could be fun.
“What I’ve shown in my career is I can hang with the best in the world. Bobby Green’s going to have No. 10 next to his name here soon, and we know how our fight played out. So we know I have the talent for it. I can have great fights with any one of these guys in the top 15. Now I just want to have that opportunity again.”
If he had his druthers, Dober said Poirier would be his first choice. The former interim champion is “a living legend,” Dober said, but he also acknowledges that it’s not likely to happen. So if it’s not to be, then he’s happy to face whoever the UFC wants, as aside from chasing the lightweight top 15, he now has another goal to pursue as well.
“I think Derrick Lewis has [14 knockouts], so that’s the new bar to reach.”