Dollaway, 29, snatched a hard-fought split decision victory over Sarafian in a “Fight of the Night”-winning performance on Saturday at Geraldo Jose de Almeida State Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, much to the dismay of the partisan crowd in attendance.
At no point did Sarafian make Dollaway’s life easy, as the American continually found himself trying to dodge the “TUF: Brazil” veteran’s looping hooks during the first two frames. Several times, the Arizona State University wrestling alumnus shot for takedowns, but each time, his attempts were thwarted.
“[It surprised me] how strong he was,” Dollaway later told Fox Sports. “I train with guys like Ryan Bader and Will McCleve, national champion wrestlers, and [Sarafian] was phenomenally strong. I couldn’t believe it. I usually have no problem getting anyone down.”
Despite his struggles to take the fight to the floor, Dollaway turned the tide of the fight by catching his stocky foe with a solid uppercut near the end of the round, disrupting Sarafian’s equilibrium in the process. Dollaway desperately searched for the finish, but Sarafian managed to hold on for the round’s final seconds.
“He’s a tough guy,” said Dollaway. “I thought I had him. I hit him with that uppercut and saw him go down, and I knew it was time to finish, and I went for it. I rolled the dice, but I didn’t get it, and I felt it in the third round. It drained my arms going for that finish, but I really wanted to finish this guy, so I went for it.”
Even with his energy depleted from the effort expended in his attempt to end the fight, Dollaway still managed to secure round three in the eyes of the cage-side judges, overcoming a Sarafian rally to finish the round on equal footing with his game foe. The split decision victory marks the second-straight win for Dollaway, who hopes to make great strides in 2013.
“[I’ll be] getting back in the gym as soon as I get back to get ready for another fight,” Dollaway said. “I want to get three or four fights this year and move my way into the top 10.”