Photos by Steve Mitchell and Joe Camporeale via USA Today
MMAmania.com has a complete preview for Saturday night's UFC on Fox 6 main event between Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson and challenger John Dodson. What's the key to victory for both men? Find out below.
Johnson won the title in his last fight, a hard-fought five round battle against Joseph Benavidez which was the culmination of a flyweight tournament to crown the inaugural champion. With his fights against Ian McCall and Benavidez behind him, he's looking to start building himself up as not only the best flyweight, but a pound-for-pound threat as well.
Dodson has looked solid in his UFC run thus far, which including winning season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), knocking out two of his three opponents and showcasing some excellent dexterity and speed. He'll be trying to utilize that power advantage against Johnson on Saturday night.
Will Johnson continue to cement himself as the most complete flyweight in the world? Or will Dodson knock him off his pedestal? What's the key to victory for both men?
Record: 16-2-1 overall, 4-1-1 in the UFC
How he got here:"Mighty Mouse" carried an impressive string of five straight wins on the regional circuit to earn a WEC debut against top bantamweight Brad Pickett in the promotion's first and only pay-per-view event. The AMC Pankration fighter lost a spirited decision to "One Punch" but then proceeded to reel off two consecutive victories in just a few short months against top 15 ranked bantamweights Nick Pace and Damacio Page
He would meet Japanese legend Norifuni "Kid" Yamamoto in his UFC debut and completely outworked the dynamic fighter over the course of three rounds.
Never one to turn down an opportunity, Johnson stepped up when Brad Pickett dropped out of his UFC 130 bout with Miguel Torres. Despite breaking his leg early in the fight, Johnson gutted through the injury and turned what had been a strong striking performance into a smothering wrestling bout against the former WEC bantamweight champion and eeked out a unanimous decision victory.
Johnson's victory was enough to vault him into title-challenger status and he faced Dominick Cruz for the UFC bantamweight belt last October. While he held his own against Cruz in the stand-up, he was repeatedly taken down by his bigger, stronger foe en route to a unanimous decision defeat.
He dropped to 125 pounds and battled McCall last year, but the bout ended in a majority draw. He had a more conclusive performance in the rematch, winning two rounds to take home a unanimous decision and earn his flyweight shot. Against Joseph Benavidez for the title, he again outworked his opponent in striking and with takedowns to bring home the inaugural hampionship.
Now, he's looking to defend the belt for the first time against Dodson.
How he gets it done: Johnson needs to utilize his tremendous athletic gifts. His speed has always been his biggest advantage and while Dodson is quick, Johnson still can move like a lightning bolt across the cage and outmaneuver hiim.
If he can dart to good angles, he could definitely set up some good shots with his striking. It's all about speed and footwork for Johnson in the stand-up because he doesn't have Dodson's power.
Whenever he sees an opportunity or when Dodson commits heavily to a powerful blow, Johnson needs to utilize his tremendous timing to shoot in and blast him to the ground. We haven't seen much of Dodson's defensive ground game off his back and while Johnson is not amazing at keeping his opponents on the canvas for lengthy periods of time, just the fact that he knows Johnson can shoot in at a moment's notice could make Dodson hesitate.
As the fight wears on, Johnson should take advantage of his tremendous conditioning and really push the pace. The championship rounds are where he can truly shine in this bout and potentially even go for a finish.
Record: 14-5 overall, 3-0 in the UFC
Key Losses: Mike Easton (UWC 4)
How he got here: Despite just being 28 years old, John Dodson has been competing professionally for over eight 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 finals.
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 Elliott in his 125 debut. He proved he deserved a shot at the belt when he crushed former top-ranked flyweight Jussier da Silva via second round knockout in his last bout this past October.
Now, it's time to see whether he deserves to be a champion or not against "Mighty Mouse."
How he gets it done: Dodson will be virtually identical to Johnson in the important categories of height and reach. They key difference between both men is the one-punch power Dodson possesses.
They key for Dodson is to either counter or find the perfect angle to get in, do damage and get out. While "The Magician" was a terrific high school wrestler, Johnson has showcased impeccable timing with his takedowns and it's very unlikely that Dodson wants to find himself on his back eating punches and elbows.
While Dodson can throw some flashy kicks when he wants to, that would be ill-advised, as that would likely surrender a takedown to Johnson. Look for Dodson to potentially even give away the first round while he tries to figure out Johnson's timing and really come to terms with the perfect distance he needs to be to land that knockout blow.
Once he has it, he definitely has the power to dethrone Johnson if he lands clean and follows up.
Fight X-Factor: The biggest X-Factor for this bout has to be big fight experience. This will be Johnson's fourth five round fight and his third UFC main event. He's been there and done that. Dodson, on the other hand, has never main-evented and his lone five round fight was the last time he was defeated, a split decision against Pat Nunez where he slowed down drastically in the final three rounds after getting off to a fast start.
Johnson knows what it takes to put on a great performance in a five round main event and that's still a huge question mark for Dodson. If "The Magician" doesn't show up 100 percent ready for this opportunity, it's going to slip, Slim Shady-style.
Bottom Line: While some don't like the way Demetrious Johnson fights, and John Dodson actually got booed before knocking out "Formiga" in his last bout, this championship battle still has plenty of potential. Both fighters are active, are technically sound and well-rounded. This fight should particularly be entertaining if both men are willing to get in exchanges and really put on a show. This bout is potentially the flyweight division's coming-out party so expect both combatants to represent themselves well. If Dodson comes out a bit passive and slows down as the fight wears on, however, it might not be pretty. It all depends on if both men are willing to really put it all on the line. Styles make fights.
Who will come out on top at UFC on Fox 6? Tell us your predictions in the comments below!
Who will win the UFC Flyweight Title in the main event of UFC on Fox 6 this Saturday night?
Demetrious Johnson (32 votes)
John Dodson (34 votes)
66 total votes