When Joe (El Dirte) Doerksen scored a mixed martial arts victory over Chad Herrick in Detroit last Friday night, he celebrated the way he knew how.
“I definitely wasn’t eating broccoli, I’ll tell you that much,” Doerksen, the pride of New Bothwell, said with a laugh on Saturday. “I was having some burgers and stuff. There might’ve been a beer or two mixed in there.
“Then Monday night I got a phone call.”
It was his U.S.-based manager, informing him that the world’s biggest MMA circuit had come calling. The Ultimate Fighting Championship needed Doerksen to take over for the injured Tim Credeur and step into the octagon with Tom Lawlor on its UFC 113 card in Montreal on May 8.
The 32-year-old jumped at the chance to get back in the UFC after a two-year absence during which he won five consecutive fights on lower-level circuits, including two in Japan. His last UFC bout, in Montreal on April 19, 2008, was the last time he lost.
“I feel good about it,” Doerksen said. “I’ve been working hard the last two years. I think I’m better now than I was before, the last time I was there.
“I’m 32 years old, so I’m a little bit older and wiser and stronger. Mentally I’m stronger than I was before, too. So it’s good timing.”
Doerksen was the first of two Manitobans who have fought in the UFC, with Krzysztof Soszynski being the other. Doerksen made his debut in August 2004 and has a record of 1-5, but he feels his loss in Montreal two years ago, to fellow Canadian Jason MacDonald, was simply a bad break.
“It was almost an accident,” Doerksen said. “The guy’s forehead was planted in my cheek bone when we hit the floor. And until that point, he was not winning the fight.”
Doerksen, who is a full-time fighter, didn’t think his UFC days were done when he left Montreal two years ago.
“I knew that if I continued to work hard and improve my game and put some wins together, I knew there was a good chance I’d be coming back at some point,” he said.
The standard UFC contract consists of two or three fights, so Doerksen is hopeful he will get at least one more high-paying bout on the big stage after Montreal. The UFC is letting him headline CFC 5 in Winnipeg on June 4 since he had already committed to it before the UFC came calling. He is tentatively scheduled to meet Shawn (Machine Gun) Marchand of Cambridge, Ont., in the main event at the Convention Centre.
Doerksen’s fight in Montreal, meanwhile, is the last one on the undercard at Bell Centre. The most entertaining undercard bouts, however, will end up on the pay-per-view telecast.
“I think up until now, every one of my fights, even on the undercard, were always shown on the pay-per-view,” he said. “I’m just that exciting, I guess.
“Hopefully we get a good fight and have the crowd see it.”