If and when the UFC puts together a flyweight division, world-ranked 125-pound fighter John “The Magician” Dodson (9-5) would like Dana White and company to know he would be happy to offer his services.
Currently the 10th best flyweight in the world according to Sherdog.com, Dodson had been planning to make a run at 135, perhaps to find his way into the WEC. But the Greg Jackson-trained fighter heard the rumors several months ago about the WEC possibly adding a 125-pound class.
“To tell you the truth, we were game-planning for me to go to 135,” Dodson told ProMMAnow.com. “I was walking around close to 160. But Greg called me and said, ‘We’re going back down, I just got an email that they’re going to do 125 in the WEC.”
Of course, that weight class never emerged in the WEC. Instead, White announced that the WEC would merge with the UFC beginning in 2011.
It was great news for the bantamweights and featherweights, but Dodson was worried his opportunity might be delayed yet again.
“When I heard they were doing the UFC-WEC merger, my first thought was, ‘Man, now I’m going to have to wait another year or two.’”
However, during a recent Q&A session, White said the UFC flyweight division would debut sooner than people think.
As opposed to simply absorbing the WEC’s 135- and 145-pound divisions, building a weight class from scratch will take a bit more work. But the talent is certainly there, and Dodson could certainly find himself in the mix.
For those who haven’t seen Dodson in action, his athleticism and quickness is, for a lack of a better word, amazing. A few years ago during a seminar, Jackson told a story of one of his fighters doing a front-flip over a sparring partner shooting in for a takedown. That someone was Dodson. He’s part mixed martial artist, part video game character.
“To tell you the truth, it was one of those things I always worked on,” Dodson said of his more unorthodox and jaw-dropping maneuvers. “One time I hit a flying knee on a guy but my momentum took me over him; I thought I was going to bust my face, but I ended up walking on my hands a few steps.
“For me, watching myself in a replay of my fights, it’s kind of a crazy thing. People sometimes come up to me after and say, ‘Can you believe you pulled that off?’ Obviously I can’t watch what I’m doing. I just go out there and do it.”
While looking flashy is nice, results are also important. And Dodson has proven himself against tough competition, even fighting one of the top flyweights, Yasuhiro Urushitani, in only his second pro fight.
Urushitani got the decision, but Dodson feels he won the fight, and he certainly proved he can hang with the best.
“In the first round I knocked him down and he had a standing eight count,” Dodson said. “They were kind of feeding me to the wolves, but I figured I’d be the better wrestler and outwork him. We went toe-to-toe for three rounds, I was taking him down, being more active. Even though he got the decision, he actually came up to me after the fight and he apologized for how the fight went and wished he’d put on a better performance.”
That wasn’t the only questionable decision that went against Dodson. He lost a split decision Ultimate Warrior Challenge bantamweight title fight to Mike Easton that several of the ringside media felt Dodson won, with his fast footwork and head movement making it hard for Easton to land many of his strikes. History repeated itself almost exactly a year later, this time with Pat Runez getting the nod over Dodson with two of the three judges for the UWC bantamweight title.
“The guy who’s walking forward, that doesn’t mean he’s winning the fight,” Dodson said. “Against Pat Runez, I probably landed 30 to 1 shots and still ended up losing fight. It was kind of the same thing with Mike Easton. There’s effective striking and then there’s effective defense.”
Dodson said he wouldn’t mind another shot at Runez to take care of their unfinished business, or maybe even Urushitani, who is still near the top of the world rankings. Then of course there is Jussier da Silva, the undefeated fighter many view as the best bantamweight in the world.
And with any luck, Dodson’s next test will be in a brand new UFC flyweight division. That has a nice ring to it, especially for a talented fighter like Dodson. It’d be a chance to fulfill his dream at his most competitive weight.
“If I actually got to fight in the UFC, that’d be an all time dream,” Dodson said. “I’d love to work my way up to a top contender spot or championship.”