When it comes to the top gyms in mixed martial arts for producing champions, bonus winners and top-ranked mixed martial artists, you don't get much more elite than Greg Jackson's gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Head trainer Mike Winkeljohn was in Dodson's corner from start to finish, offering his advice in tandem with Greg Jackson in between rounds as "The Magician" nearly finished the champion on a couple of occasions with his heavy left hand.
Winkeljohn spoke to MMAmania.com about the performance of his team this past weekend, what they would have changed for Dodson with hindsight being 20/20 and what's coming up next for his team in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I think a lot of people were impressed with what John Dodson was able to do particularly in the first three rounds of that fight. Watching it live, he was doing a really good job of making Johnson miss and then hammering him with left hook counters. Was that one of the main strategies
Mike Winkeljohn: Oh yeah, really, I expected John to put Demetrious on his heels a bit more. The fight didn't unfold the way I thought it would as much but I did notice that little John with his fakes and feints and his footwork was making Demetrious miss. It's hard see Demetrious miss because he's so fast, hardly anybody can keep up unless you hit him. He was exposing some openings so we stayed on it from early on in the first round and it was working really well for John. The wrestling part was our crux that evening.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Yeah, it seemed he got a little tired going on. One criticism I've seen is that Dodson didn't have a sense of urgency when he knocked Johnson down a few times in the second round, probably because he was wanting to conserve energy. Looking back, hindsight 20/20, was that the right decision to reset after every time he hurt "Mighty Mouse?"
Mike Winkeljohn: Well looking back, it probably would not have been the right decision. Especially in the second. That time, both Greg and I were telling him, "He's hurt, jump on him!" but John was trying not to be that guy who blows his load and goes out swinging. Demetrious didn't fold that way and John still got a bit tired at the end of the fight. That was because of a couple of reasons. One, Demetrious hit him in the body a couple times and also, just the wrestling that Demetrious had, he had a gigantic gas tank and he wore him down with the takedowns and that made it tough.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I remember distinctly the commentators saying you told Dodson to have more of a sense of urgency. Did you feel he really needed to push the fight at that one instant because he had Johnson hurt in the second and you felt he could put him away in the third?
Mike Winkeljohn: Oh yeah, oh yeah. We thought, "He's hurt. Demetrious is not gonna hurt you with his strikes. You can almost run through his punches. Just jump on him. Go get him!" I was trying to motivate John at that moment. Yes Demetrious can punch and kick and knee hard, but I was trying to get in his head that he needed to move forward more and go hunting and go get that title.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Now this was the only time they showed you both actually corning Dodson on Fox after the third round. Jackson said to stay busy for the fourth and fifth rounds. Was that mainly because you could tell Dodson was slowing down a bit and he needed to try to keep up with Johnson?
Mike Winkeljohn: Well when he slowed down, it was because he was getting pushed back into the cage and getting taken down. When he was moving and in the cage center, Demetrious wasn't catching him with anything and it was working out really well for him. It was only when he got clinched and taken down. The movement was working quite a bit to help not get taken down and stay standing with him and try to put Demetrious out.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I noticed in the fifth round, Dodson started initiating clinches and working for takedowns of his own. Was that just trying to mix things up, being tired? What was his motivation behind that when you said that the movement and activity was working so well?
Mike Winkeljohn: It was more that he was tired than anything. I actually would have liked him more to fake the takedown and go for some big punching exchanges because after he shot in a couple times, we were getting Demetrious to take the bait anyways. It was definitely from being tired and just being uncomfortable with not being able to finish a guy after landing so many big shots.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): This was such a fun fight. With the division being as thin as it, there's potential for a rematch. What's your take on a potential rematch or do you think Dodson should fight someone else first and get that confidence soaring again?
Mike Winkeljohn: A rematch? I think Dodson would accept that immediately. I'd do backflips myself and I'm not John Dodson. That would be harder for me. It's just one of those things where we need to work on a couple little things that we need to change. He's there. He's right there. He was one good punch away from finishing Demetrious in my opinion. It was a good fight and he got hit in the groin a time or two, which might have taken something out of him. Little John wouldn't complain about that but I will. Things like that take a toll.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Speaking of illegal blows, the knee in the fourth round. Demetrious threw that illegal knee when Dodson had his hand on the canvas that caught him in the head and did some damage. Do you think it should have been a point deduction or do you agree with the referee's decision?
Mike Winkeljohn: You know, that's a tough thing. I think John was actually okay. I'd hate to win a title or whatever on the basis of a point being taken away or something like that. It's one of those situations where Demetrious isn't a dirty fighter. John having his hand on the ground or not, at the end of the day, Dodson is a fighter and he wouldn't want that either. He's okay. Big John McCarthy checked if he was okay, asked him if he was ugly and he laughed and they moved forward but John did tell me afterwards that part of his vision was off from it. It would have been nice to have not been hit by it but that's what happens in the cage with so many things going on. With how fast those guys move, it's tough to pull back when you start to throw something.