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Dodson Gets Title Shot

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Moriarty fighter to challenge for UFC flyweight belt

John Dodson is not a kid, nor is he a novice.

He’s been training as an MMA fighter for more than a decade. He’s been competing professionally since 2004. He turned 28 in September.

Yet, he says, “My career is just beginning right now.”


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Just beginning? His 20th pro fight, scheduled Jan. 26 in Chicago, is a challenge for Demetrious Johnson’s UFC flyweight (125-pound) title.

To get here, Dodson has had to overcome five losses and his chosen sport’s traditional indifference to the lighter weight classes. After losing four of his first 11 fights, forced at times to compete above his weight class, he’s 7-1 since October 2008.

Still, in the eyes of the average MMA fan, it’s probably fair to say Dodson closely resembles an overnight success.

He burst (if that’s the right word) on the national scene with his 2011 appearance on UFC’s “The Ultimate Fighter” series – punctuated by a TKO of T.J. Dillashaw. He’s 2-0 in UFC competition since, including a sensational second-round TKO of Brazil’s Jussier da Silva in October.

And, suddenly (if that’s the right word), the former two-time state wrestling champion from Moriarty is set to face Johnson (16-2-1) for the title.

“The great thing,” says Greg Jackson, who with Mike Winkeljohn trains Dodson at their southeast Albuquerque gym, “is that John’s still really young, and he’s got a whole career in front of him.

“He’s paid a lot of dues, but to be where he is in his career, already to be getting a world title shot, I think says a lot about him.”

Dodson’s nickname is “The Magician,” a moniker he earned with his flashy style and astonishing quickness.


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But will he meet his match in both those categories when he faces Johnson, nicknamed “Mighty Mouse” and ranked by most sources among the sport’s top 10 fighters regardless of weight class?

“He wants to hit you with as many shots as possible,” Dodson says of Johnson. “… I’m gonna make sure I throw a lot more shots than he can and be the first to go. I need to be the first to go all the time.

“I’m just gonna go in, fight my fight and walk away the winner. That’s the only way I see the fight going, having my hand raised at the end.”

Recently, hard-core MMA fans, and the industry itself, have begun to embrace the smaller fighters. Johnson, who has competed for UFC or its now-defunct junior circuit WEC since April 2010, is fighting his third main event.

“I look at it just like boxing was,” Dodson says. “Boxing was all about the heavier weights, and look at it now; it’s all about the lighter weights because (fans) know there are more spectacular fights.”

A spectacular fight, Jackson says, is what fans should expect from Dodson-Johnson.

“I think it’s gonna be an exciting fight, because they’re both gonna be little motor machines,” Jackson says. “The joke is that you’re gonna have to watch it on TiVo and slow it down.

“The fight, I think, will come down to good cardio and speed, but it’s really gonna come down to game plan.

“If Demetrious can get John to stand tall and take control of the takedowns, we’re gonna have a hard night. But if he can’t, we’re gonna have a good night.”

Three other Jackson-Winkeljohn fighters – featherweight Clay Guida, heayvweight Shawn Jordan and lightweight Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone – are also scheduled to fight on the Jan. 26 card.

UFC 158: Albuquerque welterweight Carlos Condit (28-6) is scheduled to make his return to the cage in Montreal on March 16.

Condit will face Canada’s Rory MacDonald (14-1) in a rematch of an exciting fight won by Condit via third-round TKO in June 2010.

The March 16 main event matches Georges St-Pierre, who defeated Condit by unanimous decision in November, against Nick Diaz, whom Condit defeated via the same route in February.

St-Pierre and Condit both train at Jackson-Winkeljohn – Condit full time, St-Pierre part time.
Dodson Gets Title ShotADOLPHE PIERRE-LOUIS/JOURNALJohn Dodson, who trains at Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA Gym in Albuquerque, is scheduled to fight Demetrious Johnson for Johnson’s UFC flyweight title Jan. 26 in Chicago.Jan. 26MMA, United Center, Chicago, 6 p.m.: John Dodson vs. Demetrious Johnson for Johnson’s UFC flyweight title, several other fights; FoxOnlineTo see an interview with John Dodson and his workout, go to fighter to challenge for UFC flyweight belt

— This article appeared on page D6 of the Albuquerque Journal