John Dodson has begun to inch toward title contention in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s tumultuous bantamweight division.
Having gone 2-1 since he returned to 135 pounds in 2016, Dodson will confront former World Series of Fighting champion Marlon Moraes in the featured UFC Fight Night 120 prelim on Saturday at the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Virginia. “The Magician” last competed at UFC Fight Night “Swanson vs. Lobov” in April, when he took a three-round unanimous decision from a resurgent Eddie Wineland. Dodson has compiled an 8-3 record under the UFC flag, with two of those losses coming to reigning flyweight champion and pound-for-pound ace Demetrious Johnson. Operating out of the famed Jackson-Wink MMA academy in his native Albuquerque, New Mexico, he has delivered more than half (11) of his 19 career victories by knockout, technical knockout or submission.
As Dodson approaches his pivotal clash with Moraes, here are five things you might not know about him:
1. Despite his strong strength of schedule, durability has never been an issue.
A pro since September 2004, Dodson has never been finished in his 27-fight career. All eight of his losses have resulted in decisions, three of them split verdicts. Dodson’s defeats have come against Johnson (twice), John Lineker, Pat Runez, Mike Easton, Bill Boland, Joe Doherty and Yasuhiro Urushitani -- men with a cumulative record of 108-27-7.
2. Known for his acrobatic standup skills, the roots of his success can be traced to amateur wrestling.
Dodson was a two-time state wrestling champion at Moriarty High School in Moriarty, New Mexico, where he also played football and ran track.
3. Statistically, he made his mark as a flyweight.
Even though he moved to 135 pounds after two failed bids to unseat Johnson, Dodson left his imprint on the flyweight division -- a weight class known more for blinding speed than brute strength. According to FightMetric, he still ranks second all-time among UFC flyweights with six knockdowns. Only Lineker (seven) has accumulated more.
4. No one can question his resume.
Dodson has defeated current or former titleholders from the UFC (T.J. Dillashaw), World Extreme Cagefighting (Wineland), Bellator MMA (Zach Makovsky), Shooto Americas (Jussier da Silva), Tachi Palace Fights (Darrell Montague) and Titan Fighting Championship (Tim Elliott).
5. Lesser strikers have found it virtually impossible to neutralize him through other means.
The 5-foot-3 Dodson has successfully defended 84 percent of the takedowns attempted against him in Ultimate Fighting Championship competition. In fact, only Johnson has managed to get him to the ground, doing so nine times in their two fights. In Dodson’s nine other UFC bouts, opponents are a combined 0-for-30 on takedowns.