ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — With the addition of “The Magician,” the local flavor for the UFC’s June 7 card at Tingley Coliseum is multiplied.
John Dodson, the popular, energetic flyweight who grew up in Albuquerque, graduated from Moriarty High School and trains at Jackson-Winkeljohn Mixed Martial Arts, has been added to the “Fight Night” card. The UFC made the announcement Wednesday.
Dodson (15-6), whose “Magician” nickname stems from his speed and acrobatic style in the octagon, is scheduled to face Arizonan John Moraga (14-2) in a rematch of a 2010 fight won by Dodson via unanimous decision.
The card now has four fights scheduled.
In the main event, veteran UFC lightweight Benson Henderson (20-3) will face Rustam Khabilov (17-1). Khabilov, a native of Dagestan, trains at Jackson-Winkeljohn.
Veteran welterweight Bobby Voelker (24-11) will take on Lance Benoist (6-2).
Wednesday, in addition to Dodson-Moraga, UFC announced a bantamweight fight between Yaotzin Meza (20-9) and Sergio Pettis (10-1).
The June 7 card is UFC’s first venture in the Albuquerque area, though the WEC — a now-defunct circuit run by Zuffa, UFC’s parent company — staged a card at the Santa Ana Star Center in 2008.
Tickets are scheduled to go on sale April 18.
Dodson, 29, has been fighting professionally since 2004. His victory over T.J. Dillashaw in the finale of “The Ultimate Fighter 14” earned him a UFC contract. Counting the win over Dillashaw, he’s 4-1 in UFC competition.
The Dodson-Moraga matchup is likely to have major repercussions in the UFC’s flyweight (125-pound) division. Both fighters have recent losses to champion Demetrious Johnson, and the winner on June 7 would be that much closer to a rematch with “Mighty Mouse.”
The timing couldn’t be much better for Dodson, who has been rehabbing a knee injury but has said he would be ready to fight by May.
Since the June 7 event was announced, Dodson had openly campaigned on Twitter for a spot on the card.
In October, before his victory by first-round KO over Darrell Montague, Dodson told the Journal he would love to see UFC stage a card in Albuquerque and would love to be a part of it.
Now, almost like magic, it has all come together for “The Magician.”