In an interview with MMA Empire, Dokaj, 24, said that while he focuses solely on himself ahead of a fight, and as such has not even studied tape on Bednarek, every opportunity to compete is a blessing in itself.
“First of all I want to thank him for taking this fight,” said Dokaj.
“Fighting is my priority, the thing I want to do every single day, not just once in a month. I haven’t seen any of his fights, or anything about him honestly. Right now I’m just more focused on the training, working on my skills, and thank God, my coaches are helping me a lot.”
After a 7-0 amateur stint, Dokaj and the three teams he represents—Xtreme Couture Toronto, Santos Bros BJJ, and Vllasnia MMA in his native Albania—felt it was time for him to transition to the professional circuit, the result of which was a unanimous decision over Geran Buckner in his debut at BTC 10 this past June.
“I’ve been fighting MMA since I was in Albania, and when I came here (to Canada), I had two amateur fights, both for Canadian titles, and both of them went successfully,” said Dokaj.
“So then when we decided to move on to the pros, thank God, the first fight went perfectly good, and God help, everything is going to go well in this one. Whatever God makes for us, my job is just to give my everything in there and try my best.”
Originally from Hoti, Malesia e Madhe in the northern district of his motherland, Dokaj credits his initiation with fighting to the cultural spillover of boxing biopics on key figures of the sport, which he said catalyzed martial arts development both within himself and throughout the region.
“I think I was about ten years old and saw a Mike Tyson documentary, and yeah it was crazy amazing the way that all the world was talking about him. Like in Albania, everybody was excited. Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, they were the first ones that I saw and heard about. There were lots of Albanian fighters back then who were doing really good in boxing, and eventually they started with the kickboxing, and then MMA became more famous,” said Dokaj.
”When I was young I just liked training at the house at first. Like running in the mountains and these kinds of things, but eventually I started with the boxing a little bit, and from the boxing I moved to the taekwondo and MMA at the same time, so I’ve been training both for some years. I had to get more focused on MMA because it was the thing that I wanted to do, you know, but taekwondo is a big part of my life and it’s helped me a lot. So I can say, both of them I love.”
Dokaj said he cuts just fifteen pounds to hit the middleweight mark of 185, far fewer than many professionals in the category, and contends he could compete on a weekly basis if given the chance, barring injuries and other unforeseen circumstances.
And while it may be an axiom in combat sports to say that weight cutting is ‘the fight before the fight,’ the real struggle, he said, is securing a fight at all.
“They told me about this fight (with Bednarek) two weeks ago, and you know, I was just getting ready for any fight. I wanted to fight in August, but we couldn’t make the fight in Alberta for the BTC card. I just couldn’t find any opponent. I don’t know what happened, but now it’s September and we have one, and I just can’t wait to step in the octagon this weekend,” said Dokaj.
“I’d like to fight at least once a week. Being honest with you, that’s how much I’d like to fight. I don’t mind fighting in Canada, anywhere, as long as I’m going to be able to find the opponents and everything is going to be good with the contracts and everything, so I don’t mind about that, but right now was the toughest time in Canada because of the Covid and all the restrictions.”
As far as the future and the rest of his young career is concerned, Dokaj is as patient, centred and humble as he is hungry, and said he fights above all for the love of fighting and its invaluable lessons, everything else aside.
“God help, I’m going to try my best to improve, become a better person, a better fighter, a better professional, a better athlete, and most important is to become a better human,” he said.
“As far as where I want to be, my goal obviously is to one day step in the UFC, but I want to get there when I’m ready. Eventually, whatever God’s going to bring to me, step by step, my biggest dream is to reach the top.”
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