Just a week ago Dakota Cochrane was relatively unknown to mainstream MMA fans.
But following an upset decision win over former WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner at Titan Fighting Championships 20 last weekend, it’s safe to say the 25-year-old Nebraska native put himself on the map.
“It was pretty crazy. I just relied on my training to get me through,” Cochrane, who took the fight on short notice, told White Belt Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. “Really, I felt confident up to the fight and up throughout the fight.”
Cochrane (11-1) got just four days’ notice after Alonzo Martinez dropped out. Though his next fight wasn’t until Nov. 23 at Extreme Challenge, training at Premier Combat Center, in Omaha, Neb., he says it’s tough to not stay in shape training with fighters like Jake Ellenberger, Ryan Jensen, Jason Brilz and Houston Alexander.
Not only did training with several UFC veterans help his confidence going into the bout with Varner, but he also says seeing Ellenberger upset Jake Shields was something that motivated him heading into the fight.
“Honestly it was kind of after Jake won after Jake Shields,” Cochrane said. “It kind of gave us a lot of confidence saying we can fighting in these big shows and win. It’s just fight, train and wait your turn. If it happens, it happens.
“It helps you know you can compete at that level when you train with those guys. So if you’re fighting someone form the WEC or UFC it’s not as big of a shock because you train with them every day. It’s not as big of a deal.”
Cochrane got his chance and made the most of it, battering Varner live on HDNet. He had the edge standing and anytime he was taken to the ground he got back up. As the fight went on Cochrane got more and more confident with every punch he landed.
“It really did. Every punch I landed he would make a face. It was kind of like a disgusted face,” Cochrane said. “But it kept me firing at him. I don’t think if it was to make it seem like it wasn’t hurting him but I know if I got some reaction out of him then it was bothering him at least a little bit.”
Varner, who some consider arrogant, was extremely confident going into the fight. At 17-6, he’s an eight-time WEC veteran and two-time UFC veteran. And Cochrane says it motivated him to hear his opponent looked down to him.
“Yeah I was told by a lot of people that he was overlooking me,” Cochrane said. “Which is fine with me, because if someone is overlooking me then they’re not thinking much of you and they’re not going to give it 110 percent.”
And with the biggest win of his career, Cochrane hopes to remain level-headed and never overlook an opponent.
“I try not to be like a Jamie Varner,” Cochrane said. “Just try to be the same Dakota, I’m not going to change. Basically learn from everything in my path and stay positive from here on out. Try to stay humble and work hard.”