ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — John Dodson is ready to entertain you.
That’s not really news.
But the energetic Albuquerque mixed-martial artist feels a responsibility to amp up his usual showman skills Saturday. He is fighting for the first time on a pay-per-view card when he takes on Darrell Montague at UFC 166 in Houston.
“They put me on as the first fight of the main card (the pay-per-view portion of the fight card), because they want me to start it off right,” Dodson said. “They need to put on a show from the start and give people their money’s worth. That’s why they’re starting things off with me.”
His pent-up energy could explode Saturday, based on how much the generously listed 5-foot-3, 125-pound flyweight contender has been wanting to get back in the octagon since losing a decision to champion Demetrius Johnson on Jan. 26 in Chicago.
“I’ve been itching to get back in since Jan. 27,” Dodson said. “I know he’s not going to be able to keep up with the speed, keep up with the power. I’ve seen him get dropped by shots that wouldn’t faze me. I’ve been hit harder by guys in this gym (in practice at Albuquerque’s Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA gym), and he’s about to face the hardest hitting opponent he’s had.”
Dodson is 14-6 in his professional career with six knockouts. Montague, the 5-6, 125-pounder from Chino, Calif., is making his UFC debut after amassing an impressive 13-2 professional record, including four wins in the past 18 months, none with the same fight promotion.
Dodson is considered one of the most active and entertaining pound-for-pound fighters in the UFC (he lands an average of 3.44 significant strikes per minute), which makes his long hiatus between fights (nine months, not by his choosing but by that of UFC promoters) a bit of a head scratcher. Dodson said he is focused on another championship opportunity, but even more important is getting a prizefight “more than once or twice a year.”
Mike Winkeljohn, one of Dodson’s trainers, said he has no doubt Dodson is prepared for Montague. But the world-renowned trainer is also hopeful Dodson lives up to the prefight plan to put on enough of a show that a rematch with Johnson is something the UFC can’t resist.
“He’s not only ready for the first fight (on the main card), he’s ready for the main event,” Winkeljohn said. “Little John, I expect a highlight film from his fight. Honestly, who at 125 has the type of power John Dodson does? He knocks people out. Not only is he one of my favorite people, he’s definitely one of the most exciting fighters the UFC has.
“I’m a little biased, I won’t lie, but I want a highlight film from him so the public demands another title fight after this one.”
Saturday’s main card of UFC 166, with Dodson’s fight leading the pay-per-view portion of the event, begins at 8 p.m.