John Dodson’s ambition knows no bounds. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
John Dodson has more than Jussier da Silva on his mind. He wants a crack at flyweight gold.
Dodson -- who meets da Silva in a 125-pound showcase at UFC on FX 5 on Friday at the Target Center in Minneapolis -- has done nothing to mask his intentions leading into his latest Octagon appearance. The 28-year-old Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts dynamo has newly crowned flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson on his radar.
“I want the fight against D.J. We are the two fastest fighters in the UFC, and I want to match my speed against his. Some people say he’s the fastest; some people say I am. We got to fight to see who is the fastest. I really want to match what I got against what he’s got, but I have to make a statement Friday night against ‘Formiga.’ I will knock him out. If I stop him -- or can you imagine if I tap him out -- I’m doing a triple somersault, a 360, off the cage.”
Acrobatics aside, Dodson has his work cut out for him. Da Silva has rattle off five consecutive victories, four of them submissions, since suffering his only professional setback -- a unanimous decision defeat against Ian McCall under the Tachi Palace Fights banner in February 2011. “Formiga” has already beaten some of the world’s best at 125 pounds, including Jose Maria Tome, Shinichi Kojima and Mamoru Yamaguchi.
“I’ve been waiting for this chance to fight in the UFC for years, and, finally, there is a flyweight division so I can showcase my skills,” da Silva said. “I know Dodson is a powerful striker and is very fast, but I am a Brazilian jiu-jitsu and judo black belt and am looking forward to the fight. I’ve been working very hard on my punches and have a good uppercut, and I am looking forward to showing this in the fight. I am looking forward to the whole UFC experience. I can’t wait to show the UFC fans what I can do.”
Dodson, who won Season 14 of “The Ultimate Fighter” as a bantamweight, last appeared at UFC on Fox 3 in May, when he outdueled the underrated Tim Elliot en route to a unanimous decision. He sounds like a man who grasps the opportunity before him.
“This is a huge fight for me and a big one for the division, a number one contender’s match,” Dodson said. “Right now, everyone is trying to figure out who is who in the 125-pound class. Who fits where and who belongs at the top? ‘Formiga’ is the best fighter in Brazil; he’s got phenomenal BJJ, and his striking has improved a lot, too. I will prove why I deserve the title shot. I think he will try to strike because he cannot take me down -- not him, not anyone. Many have tried; all have failed.”
Persistence Pays for ‘The Thoroughbred’
Jay Hieron had to doubt if he would ever compete inside the Octagon again.
The 36-year-old former International Fight League welterweight champion collides with Jake Ellenberger in the UFC on FX 5 co-main event. Hieron’s return comes more than seven years after his last appearance in the Ultimate Fighting Championship -- a cut-induced technical knockout loss to Jonathan Goulet at UFC Fight Night 2.
Hieron, who trains out of the star-studded Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts camp in Las Vegas, has won 11 of his last 12 fights.
“It is tough living in Vegas, living in the UFC’s hometown and seeing all these big cards all the time,” he said. “I have cornered on big UFC shows and wondered when I would be back in the Octagon myself. I had people ask me if I was an amateur fighter because, ‘Why wasn’t I in the UFC?’ I’ve had great runs, beaten top guys, but it just wasn’t my time. Either I was signed or I was injured. It just never worked out for me to come back to the UFC, but I never got deterred.”
Hieron has prior experience with Ellenberger. He defeated the man they call “The Juggernaut” by unanimous decision under the IFL banner in 2006. Ellenberger has posted a 16-4 mark since, but Hieron expects history to repeat itself.
“I couldn’t ask for a better comeback fight than Ellenberger,” he said. “I beat him before, and I will beat him again. I fought him back in 2006 and he was a hot prospect. He didn’t know he could lose and I beat him on points. I know he’s super tough and a much different fighter with a ton of experience, but I know I can beat him again. I know him very, very well.”
This & That
Travis Browne has nine first-round finishes on his resume entering his main event showdown with Antonio Silva, having secured five of them in less than a minute ... Josh Neer has five times as many professional fights under his belt (45) as opponent Justin Edwards (9). When Edwards made his pro debut on Nov. 21, 2008, Neer had already fought 32 times ... Jeremy Stephens, who squares off with Yves Edwards in a preliminary lightweight scrap, holds a 3-5 mark in bouts that reach the judges. His last four defeats have come by decision ... “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12 finalist Michael Johnson has never won more than three consecutive fights. He puts his two-fight winning streak on the line against Team Alpha Male’s Danny Castillo ... Jacob Volkmann and Shane Roller were both three-time NCAA All-American wrestlers, Volkmann at the University of Minnesota and Roller at Oklahoma State University ... Six of Octagon rookie Phil Harris’ nine career losses have come inside one round, including a September 2005 encounter with reigning featherweight king Jose Aldo. He challenges Darren Uyenoyama in his UFC debut ... Bart Palaszewski, who locks horns with Diego Nunes in a high-stakes featherweight matchup on the undercard, started his professional career with four straight losses.