Demetrious Johnson (left) and John Dodson have met before. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Make no mistake, Demetrious Johnson expects to improve to 2-0 against John Dodson when the dust settles at UFC 191.
That doesn’t mean that the flyweight champion expects to close the book on his rivalry with the Jackson-Wink MMA product for good, however. “Mighty Mouse” recognizes that, regardless of the result in the Octagon at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday, Dodson is going to remain among the top 125-pound talents in the sport for the foreseeable future.
“I plan on being in the sport for a long time, and I believe John Dodson will be in the sport for a long time as well,” Johnson said during a recent UFC media call. “So I think our paths will cross again just like I believe my path will cross again with Joseph Benavidez, whether I win this fight or not. We’re the top fighters in the world and we keep beating all the people who are below us, so I think our paths will cross again regardless of who is champ or not.”
Dodson put a scare into Johnson in their first meeting at UFC on Fox 6. “The Magician” dropped Johnson once and wobbled him on another occasion early in the fight but was unable to fully capitalize on the opportunity. As a result, the champion recovered, wore Dodson down and pulled away for a unanimous decision victory.
In terms of actual Octagon time, Johnson was not in peril for all that long, but in most of his title defenses the Matt Hume protégé has been in complete control for the duration. Johnson acknowledges that Dodson has been the most difficult challenge during his reign.
“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “When we first fought I got in trouble at the beginning of the fight and then I had to make a little adjustment and then finally wait until I got my hands on him. Then other than that, in the standup department, absolutely.”
Dodson is an extremely dangerous fighter when he is able to set up his counter attacks, which he was able to do in the January 2013 bout against Johnson. “Mighty Mouse” was eventually able to close the distance better once fatigue set in on Dodson.
“You have two men who weigh 125 pounds and we’re both 5-foot-3 and you’re in the 25-foot Octagon. You don’t get called for backing up, so if one person goes forward and the other person backs up, it’s going to take a long time for that person to get the other person,” Johnson said. “And you look at the first fight, you see counter punches so he likes to use movement and wait for his opponent to overextend, which I end up doing in the first fight.
“Eventually once he got tired and stopped running as much I was able to get my wrestling and clinch game and get to him. That’s what happened.”
Thus far in his UFC tenure, Johnson has been more dominant in rematches than he was in initial meetings against highly-ranked foes Benavidez and Ian McCall. For that trend to continue against Dodson, he knows that he must approach the fight with the mindset that his opponent will be much improved this time around.
“You can see the success you had from the first fight, but it doesn’t mean that it’s going to beat them the second time,” Johnson said. “Because as time goes on that person will and should get better as a fighter.”
While Johnson doesn’t think he will have seen the last of Dodson after Saturday night, he isn’t sure that the New Mexico native is the opponent who will push him to the next level of stardom the same way Chael Sonnen once did for Anderson Silva. If all goes as planned at UFC 191, the champion will already be thinking about his next challenge.
“It’s hard to think about. The question I come back to is that what happens after this, regardless of if I lose or if I win,” he said. “What happens after this? And that’s what I’m always looking forward to is the future.”