UFC 187 Prelims: John Dodson Outpoints Zach Makovsky in Octagon Return

By Brian Knapp May 23, 2015
John Dodson made a triumphant return to the Octagon but did little to make his case as the next No. 1 contender in the Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight division.

Dodson won for the eighth time in nine outings, as he claimed a unanimous decision over former Bellator MMA and Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion Zach Makovsky at UFC 187 “Johnson vs. Cormier” on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Sidelined for nearly a year by a knee injury and the resulting surgery, Dodson (17-6, 6-1 UFC) earned 29-28 marks on all three scorecards.

Makovsky (19-6, 3-2 UFC) held his own in a fight that took place primarily on the feet, as numerous straight lefts hit their intended target. Dodson struggled to string together his punches, failed more often than not to crack the Philadelphian’s defenses and at times appeared hesitant. Still, he landed enough with his hands to get the judges’ attention and mixed in the occasional kick and knee. Dodson was also buoyed by a slam takedown late in the second round, as he beat “Fun Size” at his own game.

‘Stun Gun’ Kim Taps Burkman

Dong Hyun Kim submitted “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 2 alum Josh Burkman with a third-round arm-triangle choke in their undercard encounter at 170 pounds. Burkman (27-11, 5-6 UFC) conceded defeat 2:13 into round three.

Kim (20-3-1, 11-3 UFC) routinely lured the American into his wheelhouse: the clinch. The South Korean judoka was in prime form in the second round, where he countered an ill-advised takedown attempt from Burkman, sat down in top position and got down to business in the rear crucifix, trapping the World Series of Fighting veteran’s left arm between his legs. A series of unanswered punches and elbows came next, as Kim built a commanding lead on the scorecards.

Burkman made his final bid for victory early in round three, and he nearly pulled it off. He had Kim reeling with a pair of knee strikes and a flurry of punches but ran out of gas when he needed it most. The “Stun Gun” executed a takedown behind a straight left, settled in side control and took the arm-triangle. From there, he moved to a mounted position and coaxed the tapout.

Natal Upsets Rival Hall

Rafael Natal leaned on the constant threat of the takedown, a series of clinches and busy hands, as he eked out a split decision against former Ring of Combat champion Uriah Hall in a preliminary middleweight affair. All three judges struck 29-28 verdicts, two of them siding with the underdog Natal (20-6-1, 8-4-1 UFC).

Hall (10-5, 3-3 UFC) operated behind a stinging left jab and secured a pair of second-round takedowns but spent far too much time hunting the kill shot. Natal capitalized on his inactivity by firing winging punches -- some landed, some missed completely -- and either backing his counterpart towards the fence or forcing him to circle on the outside. Hall rarely countered. Natal did some of his best work in round two, where the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt delivered a takedown of his own and spent the better part of two minutes in top position.

The loss snapped a three-fight winning streak for the enigmatic Hall.

Unbeaten Covington Sinks Pyle

Undefeated American Top Team prospect Colby Covington kept his perfect professional record intact with a unanimous decision over Mike Pyle in an undercard scrap at 170 pounds. All three cageside judges scored it for Covington (8-0, 3-0 UFC): 30-27, 29-28 and 30-27.

Pyle (26-11-1, 9-6 UFC) had his chance late in the third round, as he utilized an attempted kimura to sweep into full mount. He later transitioned to the back and nearly finished it with a rear-naked choke, only to see Covington free himself. Outside of that exchange, the match was largely one-sided. A two-time NCAA All-American wrestler at Oregon State, Covington -- who replaced the injured Sean Spencer on short notice -- struck for repeated takedowns, maintained top position and piled up points with ground-and-pound.

The 39-year-old Pyle has dropped three of his last four bouts.

Makhachev Choke Submits Kuntz

Former M-1 Global champion Islam Makhachev submitted Leo Kuntz with a second-round rear-naked choke in a preliminary lightweight clash. One of the sport’s top prospects, Makhachev (12-0, 1-0 UFC) closed the deal 2:38 into round two.

Kuntz (17-2-1, 0-1 UFC), who entered the cage on a 15-fight unbeaten streak, was game but outgunned. Makhachev showed off a wide range of skills, from a first-round hip toss and an exquisite standing elbow in the center of the cage to damaging close-quarters uppercuts. The 23-year-old samboist wobbled Kuntz with a clubbing blow at close range in round two, jumped to his back and set his hooks before opting for a body triangle. Makhachev later cinched the choke with Kuntz in a kneeling position and finished it with his back to the mat.

Scoggins Outduels Reeling Sampo
A multi-layered, multi-level standup attack, effective scrambling and the ability to disengage from the clinch carried American Top Team’s Justin Scoggins to a unanimous decision over former Championship Fighting Alliance titleholder Josh Sampo in a three-round undercard battle at 125 pounds. Scoggins (10-2, 3-2 UFC) swept the scorecards with 30-27 nods from all three judges.

Crisp punching combinations, a variety of spinning kicks and an occasional knee strike were all part of the diet he fed Sampo (11-5, 1-3 UFC). Scoggins dropped him to a knee with a hook kick to the temple in the second round and staggered him with the same technique in the third. In between, Sampo absorbed a front kick to the face and a knee that ricocheted off his chest and into his chin. Scoggins’ work on the feet overshadowed two completed takedowns from “The Gremlin.”

Sampo, 30, has lost three fights in a row.


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