Two of the best flyweights on the planet will duke it out this Friday night (Oct. 6, 2012) as 125-pounders John Dodson and Jussier da Silva vie for the UFC flyweight number one contendership on the main card of UFC on FX 5 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
John Dodson made a huge splash on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), crushing his opponents and carving through the finale like a hot knife through butter. He knocked out both Johny Bedford and T.J. Dillashaw to be crowned the bantamweight winner of TUF 14. Since then, he's dropped down to flyweight and after a rough victory over Tim Elliot in his last bout, he's hoping to make a good impression against elite flyweight Jussier da Silva.
Jussier da Silva has long been considered one of the best flyweights in the world. He lost that title to Ian McCall in a huge upset at Tachi Palace Fights but has more than proved himself since, submitting opponents left and right and having won five straight since suffering the detour to his hype train. He's getting a tremendous opportunity in his promotional debut this Friday.
Will Dodson prove himself worthy of a title shot? Can da Silva take his back and sink in that patented rear naked choke of his? What's the key to victory for both men?
Let's find out:
Record: 13-5 overall, 2-0 in the UFC
Key Losses: Mike Easton (UWC 4)
How he got here: Despite just being 27 years old, John Dodson has been competing professionally for seven years now. He was a highly decorated high school wrestler and was recruited to train with Greg Jackson as early as 2002.
At 5'3 and being able to easily make 125 pounds, Dodson had significant trouble finding opponents his size and moved up to both bantamweight and featherweight, which is one of the primary reasons behind his losses, all of them being decisions.
The eccentric scrapper signed up for The Ultimate Fighter season 14 and scored a first round knockout to gain entry into the show. During the season, he defeated John Albert via decision and then knocked Johnny Bedford out cold to advance to the finale.
On the show's finale, Dodson again showcased his power, knocking out elite prospect T.J. Dillashaw violently to win the season. He announced a drop to flyweight and squeaked past late replacement opponent Tim Elliot to put himself in title contention considering the division is so thin.
This Friday night, Dodson will be able to showcase his skills and prove he deserves a shot against Da Silva.
How he gets it done: Dodson will enter his fight against Jussier da Silva with a height, reach and strength disadvantage. The key for him will be speed and footwork. Training with Greg Jackson and Mike Winklejohn should be a big boost for him in that department.
Dodson showed that he does have power, knocking out two opponents on the show, so he needs to either counter or find the perfect angle to get in, do damage and get out. While he was a terrific high school wrestler, Da Silva has some of the scariest ground game in the flyweight division so Dodson would be ill-advised to stay inside for extended periods of time and risk being put on his back.
The convivial combatant is very flexible and can throw strong kicks, but that would be a bad idea as they could lead to takedowns. He popped back to his feet easily on the show, but da Silva's back control can be scary good and he does not want to be stuck in his web on the canvas. .
Jussier da Silva
Record: 14-1 overall, 0-0 in the UFC
Key Wins: Mamoru Yamaguchi (Tachi Palace Fights 10), Danny Martinez (Tachi Palace Fights 7)
Key Losses: Ian McCall (Tachi Palace Fights 8)
How he got here: Jussier da Silva started out small, handily defeating opponents on the local Brazilian circuit starting in around 2005. "Formiga" gained the attention of American promotion Tachi Palace Fights after a strong run in Shooto Brazil.
Tachi Palace became the "go-to" place for the flyweights and Da Silva was featured in his debut bout against Alliance MMA fighter Danny Martinez, winning a unanimous decision. He was expected to be showcased again due to his number one ranking in the world but he hit a road block in Ian McCall. After having McCall's back for the entire first round and not being able to finish, he got outwrestled and outhustled for the remainder of the fight.
Since the loss, da Silva has refocused, defeating top Japanese flyweight Mamoru Yamaguchi in Tachi and then going back home to Brazil to crush some lesser known fighters, winning four bouts via submission in his home country.
He signed with the UFC and was offered a number one contender bout against John Dodson for his debut which he gleefully accepted.
How he gets it done: Da Silva is improving on the feet, but Dodson is very capable in that department. If he wants to give himself the best chance to fight, he absolutely needs to close the distance and take away Dodson's striking advantages.
If da Silva can get the fight to the ground, he has to take full advantage of the opportunity Dodson provides him. With da Silva's solid ground game, he should be able to control Dodson on the ground especially in big scrambles. If he can take Dodson's back, he has to be extremely aggressive and try to either finish with submission or dominate with top control.
Going to the ground is vital for a Da Silva victory.
Fight X-Factor: The biggest X-Factor for this fight has to be the bright lights of the Octagon for Jussier da Silva. Sure he's participated in some decently large events with Tachi Palace but we've seen some very big time prospects flop in a big way on the main stage for the UFC when presented with a title opportunity in the debut. If Da Silva is intimidated or not fully there mentally, perhaps over-psyching himself out, he could not live up to the hype or expectations that surround him (ex. Hector Lombard).
Bottom Line: There's some serious potential for this bout as both flyweights are extremely talented and capable of putting a hurting on each other, but with both of them specializing in different areas, it could be a problem when they compete against each other as it could get awkward trying to see them go into their opponent's world especially if they can't impose their will. There's potential, but don't hold your breath.
Who will come out on top at UFC on FX 5? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!