by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com

Despite a brief stint on “The Ultimate
Fighter 7” reality series, cast member Mike Dolce remains one of the most
popular fighters from the season.


His hard-hitting fight style combined
with a blue-collar hard-nosed work ethic has helped him etch a place in fan’s
hearts, from his pro debut in the International Fight League to now.


After a brief stop in Japan, Dolce
returns to his current home state of Oregon to make his first fight since
appearing on Ultimate Fighter 7 on American soil this coming weekend.


“I’m fighting Sept. 13 for the Rise
Fighting Championships in Eugene, Ore.,” he told MMAWeekly.com.  “I’m the co-main event and I’m very
excited about that.”


After spending the last year at
middleweight, Dolce returns to the weight class he has had the most success at,
welterweight, for his upcoming appearance. “I’m dropping back to 170 –
where I should be – and I’m looking to do some big things down there.”


Not only does his return to welterweight
have Dolce excited for his fight, returning to the area he started his career
has him equally anticipating Sept. 13.


“To come off the TV show and fight for the
Oregon fans is great for me,” he commented.  “I’ve got a lot of great friends out here and support.


“I’m really looking forward to putting on
a really great show and just letting the fans see how far I’ve really come
since I’ve made my debut out here.”


At Rise, he will be squaring off against
Jake Paul, a tough veteran of nearly 20 MMA fights.


“He’s got more fights than me, and seems
to be a well-rounded guy who likes to slug it out,” said Dolce of Paul.  “It should definitely a fun fight; I’m
looking forward to brawl a little bit.”


Sept. 13 represents a chance for Dolce to
start his career fresh, after a major change he has made in the business aspect
of his career.


“I’ve recently become a free agent,” he
announced.  “I’ve left Team Quest
management and I’m really looking to take my career to the next level.


“I love Team Quest and will always be a
loyal Team Quest supporter.  The
athletes and I are bonded as brothers, but management-wise it was time for me
to move on and point my career in another direction and make some things


Dolce will continue to work with former
teammates Chris Wilson, Ed Herman and Nate Quarry; and additionally further
develop his relationship with his Ultimate Fighter 7 coach, Quinton “Rampage”


“My affiliation with Quinton Jackson has
grown tremendously,” he exclaimed.


“He’s really begun mentoring me in the
sport and has been looking out for me, giving me some direction training-wise
and career management-wise; what I should be doing and really approaching in my
fight career.”


Dolce looks to make this coming year one
of rebuilding as he intends to make the most of his opportunity to further his
career in the sport.


"I’m looking to fill those in those
holes and develop further," he admitted.  "Build that confidence and work my way to one of the
top organizations and earn my spot as a respectable contender.”


After his fight for Rise, Dolce will make
a quick turn-around and fight again on Oct. 18 in Mobile, Ala. alongside former
Ultimate Fighter alums Gerald Harris, Josh Haynes and Luke Zachrich.


With a new business direction and a
dedication to get better as a fighter with a busy upcoming schedule, it could
very well be the time for Mike Dolce to go from fan favorite to legitimate contender,
one day at a time.


“I want to thank my longtime sponsor MHP
Supplements; Sprawl, Dakine equiptment and gear; and my new sponsors Pimp It
and Eternal Unlimited; and Next Level Martial Arts,” closed out Dolce.  “Thank you to the fans.  Outside of my family, they’re my
biggest motivator to go out there and do well.


“Make sure to get down to Eugene, Ore.
and checkout the Rise Fighting Championships.  I’m really making my comeback since leaving The Ultimate
Fighter.  I’m looking to make my
mark in the sport and it’s all going to start with that fight.”


Dolce also wants his fans to check out
his official website at http://www.MikeDolceMMA.com.
He is also a formerly MMAWeekly.com radio correspondant and blogger during his
stint on The Ultimate Fighter.


Check out this
extensive, exclusive one-on-one video interview between Mike Dolce and Paul
Philpott for MMAWeekly.com, where he talks more in-depth about his upcoming
fights, his personal training, and the upcoming bout between Randy Couture and
Brock Lesnar at UFC 91.