|Joe Doerksen looks to put on another strong performance at the Bell Centre in Montreal this weekend. (QMI Agency file/Brian Donogh)
MONTREAL -- UFC 113 last May in Montreal still stands as one the more memorable mixed-martial-arts events of the year.
Mauricio (Shogun) Rua got his revenge on the previously undefeated Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida, Paul (Semtex) Daley threw his UFC career down the toilet by sucker punching Josh (Kos) Koscheck after the bell and the state of Canadian MMA took a hard punch in the face.
Of the seven Canuck fighters featured on the card, only Winnipeg native Joe (El Dirte) Doerksen took home a win, submitting (Filthy) Tom Lawlor with a rear-naked choke in the second round.
"It didn't really hit me until later that night," said Doerksen (46-13). "Obviously, I wasn't the last Canadian to fight. It wasn't really something I thought about until the next day or so. It was great to go out there and do well. Being the only Canadian who won? Well, that's good and bad, I guess. It makes me look good, but as far as Canadian fighters go, it was a bit of a rough night.
"But a lot of them were good fights, really close and could have gone either way. I think every Canadian fought really well, but sometimes they don't go the way you want them to go."
Doerksen looks to put on another strong performance at the Bell Centre in Montreal at UFC 124 this Saturday when he faces Dan Miller. The event will be headlined by Georges (Rush) St. Pierre defending his welterweight championship against Koscheck (15-4).
A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and former IFL middleweight champion with strong wrestling, Miller (12-4) is considered the favourite if the bout hits the mat. Despite his opponent's high-level grappling, Doerksen isn't worried too about fighting on the ground. After all, he has more submission wins (33) than Miller has MMA fights (16).
"There's always a risk, no matter where the fight goes," Doerksen said. "I feel I can be comfortable on the ground with pretty much anybody in the world. But if I find a fighter has a strength in one area, then the thing to do is to keep him out of that place.
"So if the fight ends up on the ground, I'm not going to be terribly concerned. Obviously I'm not going to panic. I think it will be less comfortable for him to fight standing than it will be on the ground. So I'm going to try and keep standing for a little while at least."
Miller has been been forced to strike in some of his more recent fights. Both Demian Maia and Michael (The Count) Bisping were able to keep the bout on the feet and work their way to unanimous decision victories. Doerksen said his gameplan is to take Miller out of his comfort zone.
"Bisping was able to work the ground game fairly easily and I feel like I have a bit of a stronger ground game than Bisping," Doerksen said. "So I think this is a really good fight for me if I can keep it on the feet and land some heavy shots. I think I can wear him down and tire him out before the end of the fight."
One could argue the only thing more difficult than earning an opportunity to fight in the UFC is keeping your spot on the roster. With so many top fighters under contract, many lesser-known guys are cut after only one of two losses.
Having dropped his last bout via submission to C.B. Dollaway at UFC 119, Doerksen could be on the chopping block if he loses this weekend. However, Doerksen said he feels no extra pressure to perform.
"Well it's a reality, a fact of life -- if you lose too many fights, they're going to have to let you go," Doerksen said. "That's just the way the business works. I don't have any problems with the way they do that. It's my job to work and win fights. So it's a reality and something to keep in your head, but at the end of the day a fight's going to go the way is goes. Sitting there worrying about it is just going to make things worse and hurt my performance. I don't think about that on fight night. I just go out there and do my job.
"Be prepared for the worst, hope for the best. Then go out there, be yourself, have some fun and throw some punches. You did all that work, so you might as well enjoy it."