Rivalries: Drew Dober

Drew Dober has settled into his role as a valuable and effective mid-card performer in the Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight division.

The 35-year-old Elevation Fight Team standout will get back on the hunt at 155 pounds when he takes on the surging Jean Silva—a short-notice replacement for the injured Mike Davis—in a featured UFC on ESPN 59 attraction this Saturday at Ball Arena. Dober enters the Octagon with victories in four of his past six bouts. He last competed at UFC Fight Night 235, where he wound up on the wrong side of a unanimous decision against Renato Carneiro on Feb. 3.

As Dober moves ever closer to his forthcoming confrontation with Silva in the Mile High City, a look at a some of the rivalries that have helped shape his career to this point:

Jamie Varner

Dober submitted the former World Extreme Cagefighting champion with a rear-naked choke in the first round of their brief but bizarre UFC on Fox 13 undercard battle on Dec. 13, 2014 at the US Airways Center in Phoenix. The curtain fell 1:52 into Round 1. Varner whiffed on an early lateral drop, striking his head on the mat in the process. The sequence left him dazed and vulnerable, and Dober immediately climbed to full mount. Punches fell next, and Varner rolled to his stomach in a desperate attempt to free himself from danger. Dober then cinched the choke for the tapout, as he snapped his two-fight losing streak to established a foothold in the UFC after having suffered back-to-back losses to Sean Spencer and Nick Hein. Varner announced his retirement afterward, closing the book on his 35-fight career.

Olivier Aubin-Mercier

“The Ultimate Fighter Nations” finalist and eventual two-time Professional Fighters League champion dispatched Dober with a rear-naked choke in the second round of their UFC 206 lightweight prelim on Dec. 10, 2016 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The end came 2:57 into Round 2. Aubin-Mercier outstruck the Elevation Fight Team export throughout a surprisingly one-sided first round, where he bloodied his nose with a stiff right jab and dazed him with an overhand left. Dober rebounded early in the middle stanza and floored the judo black belt with a clean left hook. However, he elected to engage Aubin-Mercier on the ground. The Tristar Gym standout swept into top position under threat of a kneebar, advanced to the back and set the stage for the choke. Aubin-Mercier snaked his arms in place, tightened his squeeze and forced the tapout.

Nasrat Haqparast

Dober wiped out the Firas Zahabi protégé with first-round punches as part of the UFC 246 undercard on Jan. 18, 2020 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Haqparast succumbed to blows 70 seconds into Round 1, as he suffered his first setback in more than two years. Operating in the shadows of the Conor McGregor-Donald Cerrone main event, Dober stayed composed under heavy fire from the Moroccan. He countered a leg kick and decked Haqparast with a perfectly timed overhand left. Sensing the finish was near, Dober pounced on his fallen adversary and dropped a series of jackhammer left hands until the job was done. It resulted in the first of his six post-fight performance bonuses and supplied the Omaha, Nebraska, native with some welcomed momentum.

Islam Makhachev

The American Kickboxing Academy star put away Dober with an arm-triangle choke in the third round of their UFC 259 lightweight showcase on March 6, 2021 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Referee Chris Tognoni waved it off 1:37 into Round 3. Makhachev was flawless with his approach and execution. He took down Dober in the first, second and third rounds, sliced through his guard and floated from one dominant position to the next, mixing in ground-and-pound when the opportunity presented itself. Makhachev completed his final takedown inside the first 30 seconds of Round 3, freed himself from an attempted kimura and bit down on the choke while he was still stuck in half guard on the opposite side. Even so, the squeeze was strong enough to force the exhausted Dober to capitulate.

Bobby Green

Dober rallied to cut down the former King of the Cage champion with punches in the second round of their UFC Fight Night 216 attraction on Dec. 17, 2022 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The stoppage was called 2:45 into Round 2. Operating out of his unconventional hands-down stance, Green tore into his opponent with quick punching bursts throughout a lopsided first round. Dober retreated to his corner with a bloody nose and in search of answers for the fast-twitch strikes being fired in his direction. He eventually backed Green to the fence, triggered a wild exchange and flattened him with a clean left hook. Dober added a follow-up shot for good measure before referee Keith Peterson could arrive on the scene. It was Green’s first clean knockout loss in over six years.

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