Two of the best flyweights on the planet clashed last night (Jan. 26, 2013) as champion Demetrious Johnson put his UFC Flyweight Title on the line against The Ultimate Fighter season 14 winner John Dodson in the main event of UFC on Fox 6 in Chicago, Illinois.
Dodson forced Johnson to fight through more adversity than he's ever experienced before in the opening few rounds, but what key factor allowed Johnson to not only come back, but take home a unanimous decision victory?
Early on, Dodson looked to purely counterstrike, trying to find that quick left hook counter to make Johnson think twice about being so aggressive and constantly moving forward. Dodson staggered the champion in the first frame, but neither fighter was really able to get anything going in the round.
Round two was where things got interesting as Johnson tried to turn it up a notch, but kept eating the big left hand from Dodson. He was wobbled at first, but then hurt again with the same blow about 30 seconds later and then knocked down with the left hook counter in the round.
Despite being hurt, Johnson continued to press the action, moving forward, occasionally mixing in takedown attempts and trying to land consistent punches while keeping his opponent on his heels.
Again, Dodson landed significant strikes while on his bicycle, but Johnson's strategy really began to pay off as the fight wore on.
By the fourth round, Dodson's pace began to slow, and Johnson found himself in a situation where he had the challenger stuck against the fence where he proceeded to knee him about 30 times either to the head, the shoulder or the body depending on whether or not Dodson could get his hand on the canvas while bent over or not.
With Dodson fading, Johnson really forced the issue in what was the deciding fifth and final round. "Mighty Mouse" repeatedly found himself in situations where he could put Dodson in the Thai plum and he really made those positions work for him, mixing in knees to the head and body of Dodson and controlling his opponent physically.
Dodson was too tired to really trade punches with Johnson by this point and was forced to clinch or shoot for takedowns, but he couldn't do anything effectively because his cardio was no longer there. With Dodson wearing down, Johnson poured it on, landing some heavy punches to go along with the knees in the Thai plum to take the round and the fight.
When it was all said and done, Johnson retained his title via unanimous decision and the fifth round decided the bout for two of the judges.
For John Dodson, he had the right idea early, countering Johnson's aggression with his powerful and sneaky left hook. It landed consistently, but his problem actually happened in the round where he had the most success. He hurt Johnson at least two if not three times in the second round, but every time he had the champion in trouble, he backed off and reset, hoping to repeat his success. While this kind of worked because Johnson didn't change how he fought and kept pushing the action, he still let the champ off the hook whenever he hurt him, particularly when he knocked "Mighty Mouse" down the last time. While he may have been trying to conserve his energy, he didn't have enough gas to last the full fight anyways so he probably should have just went for it. Perhaps the outcome would have been different.
For Demetrious Johnson, he treated this fight like a 401k investment plan. He made his small deposits early, not afraid to take some losses in the beginning of the fight because he didn't believe he was going to get stopped. His trust in his chin and his conditioning paid off as he cashed in on that 401k in the championship rounds and all that movement, all the forward pressure he'd put on Dodson in the opening three frames gave him some solid returns. Johnson dominated the fourth and particularly the fifth round as Dodson faded to take home the decision.
We also saw something refreshing from the champion, which was heart. He got hurt pretty badly in the second round, but he battled through the adversity and never stopped pushing the pace or coming forward. While he hasn't quite reached Frankie Edgar levels, it was pretty damn impressive so see just how bad Johnson wanted it last night.
Next up for Johnson is likely a rematch against next weekend's Ian McCall vs Joseph Benavidez winner. If the UFC nixes that idea, a contender like John Moraga waits in the wings. Other than that, he'll simply have to wait for the division to add some depth and sort itself out.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Did Johnson vs Dodson do right by the flyweight division last night? Was their bout worthy of "Fight of the Night" and what do you make of Demetrious Johnson's reign as champion?