This Saturday night (June 7, 2014,) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) flyweights John Dodson and John Moraga will wage war on the main card of UFC Fight Night 42, airing live at 10 p.m. EST on FOX Sports 1 from Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 winner Dodson has been out of action since his UFC 166 knockout of Darrell Montague. The No. 1-ranked "Magician" was supposed to face Scott Jorgensen at UFC on FOX 9 in December 2013, but was unfortunately forced to withdraw from the bout with a knee injury. He's won six out of his past seven mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts.
He'll face a fighter he's beaten once before in the No. 5-ranked Moraga, who last beat Dustin Ortiz via split decision at UFC Fight Night 35 in January. Like Dodson, he enjoys a healthy amount of momentum, having won eight of his last nine bouts. Moraga has the wrestling to give most 125-pound fighters fits in the Octagon, but Dodson may be an exception to that.
With pivotal flyweight stakes on the line, let's take a look at the keys to victory for Dodson vs. Moraga:
Record: 15-6 overall, 4-1 UFC
Key Wins: T.J. Dillashaw (TUF 14 Finale), John Moraga (Nemesis Fighting: MMA Global Invasion), Jussier Formiga (UFC on FX 5),
Key Losses: Demetrious Johnson (UFC on FOX 6)
Record: 14-2 overall, 3-1 UFC
Key Wins: Dustin Ortiz (UFC Fight Night 35), Chris Cariaso (UFC 155), Ulysses Gomez (UFC on Fox 4)
Key Losses: Demetrious Johnson (UFC on FOX 8), John Dodson (Nemesis Fighting: MMA Global Invasion)
Training out of Greg Jackson's vaunted camp in Albuquerque, Dodson is one of the most well rounded flyweights on the planet. He's the only fighter to ever knock out newly crowned UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw, no small feat in and of itself.
"Magician" makes his opponents disappear with a frightening mix of speed, striking power, top-level wrestling, and conditioning. He won't get tired and he's never been finished. Dodson is going to set an insane pace on the feet and dare Moraga to catch up with him.
The only way Moraga will be able to do that is with his wrestling. The former NCAA Division I All-American will be looking to neutralize Dodson's pinball-like pace with several takedown attempts, but he'll have to catch him first. He's largely outmatched on the feet, but if he can turn this match into a slower, grinding affair, the scales may begin to tip in his favor.
Moraga has six submission victories to his name and while a seventh will be incredibly difficult to secure on Saturday night, it's probably his only way to finish this fight.
Dodson, on the other hand, has a lot more ways to win, and that makes him a dangerous man.
Both fighters lost to division champion Demetrious Johnson last year, but a big win here will put them right back on the short list of contenders for another shot at "Mighty Mouse."
Two Johns will hook ‘em up when Dodson meets Moraga in Albuquerque. Can the latter find a way to corral the blazing speed of ‘Magician,' or is Dodson simply destined for another go-around with ‘Mighty Mouse?'