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John Dodson feared losing job at end of UFC run: ‘I regret not being this monster I am again’

“I still feel like I’m in my 20s. I keep on moving like I do and everybody else who’s gone against me, trained with me, they wonder how I can I be that old and still be that fast and skilled.”

John Dodson was one of the bigger personalities in the early iteration of Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) Flyweight division.

“The Magician” fought for the title on two occasions and entered the promotion after winning The Ultimate Fighter 14 (TUF) at Bantamweight, knocking out future two-time UFC champion, T.J. Dillashaw. Dodson (23-13) went 10-7 in the promotion during his nine-year run, losing only to Demetrious Johnson at 125 pounds, and fully expect to end his career in the Octagon.

“I regret not being this monster I am again today back then,” Dodson told MMA Mania on BROADENED HORIZIN. “I was too scared of losing a job then I lost it and I didn’t know what to do. It was like, hey, you know what? I’m just gonna keep on fighting and knocking people out and just have some more fun. Then this started happening again.”

The 38-year-old parted ways with UFC after an Aug. 2020 unanimous decision defeat to Merab Dvalishvili before dropping his following fight to Cody Gibson at XMMA 3 in Oct. 2021. He managed to get back on track in a big way, however, scoring two solid 2022 victories over the likes of a fellow UFC veteran, Francisco Rivera, and mixed martial arts (MMA) pioneer, Hideo Tokoro, in his RIZIN Fighting Federation debut (watch highlights).

Dodson’s arrival in the RIZIN ring was inevitable. Shortly after exiting UFC, he was in contact with the Japan-based organization, looking to set up a long-anticipated clash with former RIZIN and Bellator 135-pound titleholder, Kyoji Horiguchi. The global COVID-19 pandemic ultimately stalled things, but Dodson is ready to make up for lost time with no end in sight.

“I’m going on as long as my body can continue on telling me I can keep on fighting,” Dodson said. “I’m blessed with the fact that I’ve never been knocked out and I’ve never been finished. That’s one of the most exciting things for me because of just how lucky I’ve been for that. My body hasn’t taken that type of damage, I haven’t weathered the storm like that, I haven’t had to think about that type of recovery.

“I still feel like I’m in my 20s,” he continued. “I keep on moving like I do and everybody else who’s gone against me, trained with me, they wonder how I can I be that old and still be that fast and skilled.”

With RIZIN yet to introduce an official Flyweight division and title, rumblings have begun about a potential Grand Prix tournament to decide the inaugural champion. Dodson still loves the idea of facing Horiguchi, but going through all his opposition Mortal Kombat style supersedes all other possibilities at present.

“Let’s go with the Grand Prix because I want them to sit there and be like, ‘John, how’d you win this title?’ I went through a gauntlet and got it,” Dodson said. “Automatically, you think about going to RIZIN and everybody assumes PRIDE, Dream, and Sengoku. What did you do to earn that? Those people all went through that Grand Prix style and I want to do the exact same thing. If I’m going to soccer kick and head stomp somebody, I want it to be in a tournament where I have to be the only survivor.”

Watch the full episode in the video embedded above or you can listen on Spotify.


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