Shana Dobson (3-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) will return for her third UFC fight at UFC Fight Night 141 in Beijing, China on November 24. Dobson discusses her upcoming bout, her mixed martial arts career progression, being a role model for women, minorities and the LGBTQ community, and her own experience of coming out. Check out MMASucka’s exclusive Q&A with Dobson:
What are your thoughts on your upcoming match-up with Yanan Wu?
“I’m excited about this one. I feel this is an opportunity for me to show my skills as a whole. We’ve been working real hard this camp just like we do every camp. I’ve made adjustments based on my previous fight and I’ve really gelled with the camp I’m working with now. This will be my second fight with Team Lloyd Irvin. I’m really excited about this one.”
How’s it been training with Team Lloyd Irvin, and how much have you improved with them?
“I really feel like I’ve matured as a fighter as far as physically, mentally, my cage awareness. Mixing up my striking with my ground game as well. Lloyd Irvin is a very well-known ground gym, so of course I’m getting my ground over there. Anybody who’s trained with us or steps foot into our gym knows how hard we train.
Our coach has very high expectations of us as we have of ourselves, so it’s always a grind every day. We go in, we know it’s going to be a grind. There are no easy days. I love that I’m always being pushed to my limit there so that the fight is easier.”
When you fight in Beijing, China, it will mark the first time you’ve ever fought outside of the U.S. How do you feel about the opportunity to fight in Beijing, as well as internationally for the first time?
“I’m really excited. As a martial artist, this is what we dream of. To be able to take our skills and go all over the world with them. To be able to fight in Beijing; it’s the UFC’s first time in Beijing.
This is just another part of me making history. I was a part of history being made when I was a part of the 125 lb. division for women opening up, and I’m a part of history right now.”
How do you feel about going up against someone who the crowd will definitely be backing as their hometown girl?
“That’s no problem for me. I’ve been the other person as far as going to someone’s hometown and them being the favorite. That’s just even more incentive to me to make sure that I get in there and I get it done decisively, and I do what I need to do to make sure it doesn’t go to the judges.”
You’re coming off of a close decision loss to Lauren Mueller in your last. What did you learn from that fight that you’ll be able to use going forward, and how do you plan to rebound?
“The Lauren Mueller fight was a close one for me. This fight, what people have said as far as my performance, I got a lot of great feedback based on that. But as any fighter is, I’m hard on myself. With that fight, it just allowed me to see that I need to let go and showcase everything that I have right off the jump. That’s something that comes with experience, and that experience was necessary for me.”
Coming off of a loss, do you get the sense that you’ll be fighting for your UFC job in Beijing?
“I don’t think so. I would like to think that the performances I’ve put on so far with the UFC and with my MMA career in general have been entertaining. I’m not a boring fighter by any means. I’m very well-versed. In my opinion, I have some of the best striking, if not the top striking in the division. I’m not worried about that. I just got to keep performing and doing what I do and showing what makes me, me. It’ll all come naturally. I’ll be able to climb the rankings and get up there, naturally.
I know that I’m coming out there to put on a performance that the fans enjoy and that needs to be seen. There’s too many females in this division that just want to go to the ground. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m ready to go to the ground at any point, but we need to see some diversity. We need to see that striking that we see in our champions that makes them exciting and makes fans want to follow them. That’s what I bring to the division.”
How beneficial was your experience on The Ultimate Fighter?
“When I was on TUF, fortunately and unfortunately I only got to fight one time. I was the first fight up and I was facing the No. 1 seed. That was intimidating but it helped me because I knew if I could go over to Vegas, have a week out there and they say, ‘Hey, you’re fighting next week. You’re fighting the top seed in the house. Someone who has maybe 40 fights while I only had three pro fights at the time. If I could do that, I’m game for anybody. I’m down for anybody.”
You’re among a handful of out lesbians in the UFC. How important do you feel it is to actively represent the LGBTQ community as a mixed martial artist?
“Oh, it’s so important. The small platform that I do have, I definitely want to use that effectively to represent everything that I stand for. To be a woman in our sport, an LGBT woman, a minority woman. It’s very important to me to bring awareness and bring that attention to people like me. I think it’s important that we have role models out there for everyone.”
What are some issues you’d currently like to advocate for on behalf of the community, and how do you feel being a member of the UFC benefits that?
“Just awareness and acceptance. Just respect. Respect, really, for women. For all the communities that I represent. Respect and acknowledgement is really what I want. It’s not so much issues. I want the same amount of respect as anybody else receives and deserves.”
How was your experience of coming out, and was your family supportive?
“My experience… I was so young. Well, not that young I guess. I was 17 or 18, I think. Too damn old *laughs.* It should have happened a lot sooner but it is what it is. It was kind of like a whim. I just did it. I came out to my parents at first and it was like a ‘I have to tell them’ kind of thing. Initially there was some struggle because of my culture. I’m Jamaican. Anybody that knows anything about Jamaican culture knows that it’s kind of taboo. My family, my parents, my loved ones have been very supportive, just loving me for who I am.”
How long have you been with your partner, and what’s the relationship like?
“So back in August we celebrated our two year anniversary. It’s funny because we’ve been friends for five, close to six years. And it’s great. She’s very supportive of my goals and my dreams. She’s applying to law school next year and going out there and doing her thing. It’s great to have somebody who matches my ambition.”
How do you predict your fight with Wu goes?
“I hate doing these fight predictions because you never know how it’s going to go. I know that no matter what I’m going to give it my all, and I know that I’m going to come out victorious. I’m a whole different beast, a whole different monster. Every camp, I’m evolving. When you guys talk to me the next camp after that, after I solidify this ‘W,’ I’m going to come with a whole new level of energy as well.
Every camp, I’m evolving, and that’s what people are going to see. Every fight, they’re saying, ‘Oh, Shana Dobson, she’s progressing this, and she’s progressing that.’ They’re going to keep seeing my progress until I’m at the top. This is just a stepping stone right here. I’m excited. I’m going to get in there and have fun, and do what I do. You guys are gonna see me get the ‘W’ from me doing what I do.”
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