For the first time ever, a fighter had the opportunity to earn a contract with the UFC the The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) as a bantamweight at the finale of TUF season 14 last night (December 3, 2011) where John Dodson took on T.J. Dillashaw.
The diminutive Dodson held an experience edge, but would that be enough to make up for a significant lack in size against a tough undefeated prospect out of Team Alpha Male?
Just like in his incredible semifinal against Johnny Bedford, Dodson connected hard and put the 25 year old wrestler away with a hard series of strikes.
So what fatal flaw was the cause for Dillashaw's early exit? And where do both young warriors go from here?
T.J. Dillashaw came out looking to trade strikes, throwing repeated kicks with his range advantage but he should have got the memo that standing with Dodson was a bad idea when he got clipped with a heavy left hand just 15 seconds into the bout.
Dillashaw had a unique form of striking defense, keeping his hands low and only bringing them up when he felt a strike coming. This may work against most bantamweights, but Dodson was so quick and agile that he could get inside and land big strikes before Dillashaw could even bring his hands up to protect his face.
Despite Joe Rogan wondering aloud when Dillashaw would shoot in for a takedown, it never came.
Instead, he sloppily charged in and at a huge left hand from Dodson which stunned him and then a follow-up left hand put him on the canvas.
Herb Dean, perhaps having nightmares about the 10 hammerfists in two seconds that Dodson dropped on Johnny Bedford and sent him back to Ohio, jumped in quickly to put a halt to the action.
It may have been slightly early, but with how Dodson pounces on his opponents, he likely saved Dillashaw from some severe punishment that he would have absorbed in the next few seconds.
For T.J. Dillashaw, he's going to have several months to rethink his atrocious gameplan. Try as he might, he's not a striker, at least not yet. He was four fights into his UFC career and he was taking on someone who was faster, more agile and more powerful than him. He only should have stood with him long enough to set up a takedown. Instead, he never even attempted one. I don't know whether it was overconfidence in his striking or simply poor gameplanning, but he should have known from the first 15 seconds of the fight that standing with Dodson was a bad idea.
He's got talent, but he still has a long way to go before he's an elite bantamweight. The good news is that he trains with two of the best bantamweights on the planet and he's got a plethora of great sparring partners at Team Alpha Male. Dillashaw needs to be brought up slowly. I'd like to see him against someone like Alex Soto next, perhaps Byron Bloodworth or Joseph Sandoval. It's definitely time to put the breaks on his ascent and let him develop properly.
For John Dodson, that was a picture perfect performance. His stand-up was crisp, he was able to be the aggressor and he was able to counter beautifully. It doesn't matter that he's undersized, he makes up for it with incredible speed, terrific timing and some serious power in his hands.
This kid is ready for the big time right now. He trains at a great gym with Greg Jackson and he's squared off against tough UFC level competition before. I'd love to see how he does in a fight with someone like Chris Cariaso, Jeff Hougland or Ken Stone next, although in all honesty, I think he's good enough to take on someone along the lines of Takeya Mizugaki if they think he's ready. This kid has a very bright future ahead of him.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Were you impressed with Dodson's complete and utter dominance? How far can this kid go in the UFC? Does he have potential championship material once the flyweight division opens up?
For complete Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale results, including blow-by-blow, fight-by-fight coverage of the entire pay-per-view (PPV) event as well as immediate post-fight reaction click here, here and here.
All gifs by Zombie Prophet via IronForgesIron.com.