The Film Room: John Dodson

By Kevin Wilson Feb 21, 2019
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Two-time Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight title challenger John Dodson will step inside the Octagon for the 15th time when he takes on rising prospect Petr Yan at UFC Fight Night 145 on Saturday in Prague. “The Magician” returned to the 135-pound weight class in 2016 and has compiled a break-even 3-3 record since, but a victory over the highly touted Yan would put him right back in the bantamweight mix.

Dodson provides the material for this edition of The Film Room.

Dodson established himself as one of the greatest flyweights of all-time and one of the few with real knockout power -- always a complaint with the lighter-weight fighters. What makes his run even more impressive is that he did it as a minimalist striker who perfected the basics and relied on his speed and athleticism for success. Dodson basically just uses a left straight down the middle or an overhand left over the top. However, his speed and constant lateral movement has his opponents changing their defense all fight and looking like they do not know which one to cover.

The Jackson-Wink MMA export does occasionally go to the body to lower the opponent’s guard, which sets up his left straights and overhands later in the fight. His favorite combo to the body is a jab to the head, left hook to the body, right hook to the head. The jab gets the opponents to guard high and set up the hook to the body, and the body hook drops their guard to set up the right hook to the head. He dropped Demetrious Johnson twice with this same combo and finished Jussier da Silva with it, as well.

Dodson does not throw many kicks, but when he does, they go to the body. Dodson is almost always striking at angles, but oddly, his body kicks are always thrown directly in front of the opponent and as a single strike. He would be better served to follow up these body kicks with punches more often, but generally speaking, his speed has been enough to land them clean. He also likes to use knees to the body, usually to get off the cage.

Few fighters use lateral movement and angles as liberally as Dodson, and his ability to change direction on a dime while striking is some of the best in the UFC. Sometimes, the angles are slight movements towards his right to set up his left hand, and other times, they are deep cuts where Dodson is nearly behind his opponent in just one or two steps. These angles worked great at flyweight, but they should work even better at 135 pounds against bigger and slower fighters.

Dodson is usually either the leading attacker or using his footwork to evade, and he rarely plants his feet for the counter. However, when he does, he has shown a nice counter left hook -- the punch with which he finished T.J. Dillashaw and dropped Johnson in their first fight. Since he is always the smaller and faster man at 135 pounds, we see his counters less often, but he knows he can use his speed and footwork to evade, so it is not worth the risk to plant and counter.

Although he wrestled all throughout his childhood, since joining the UFC in 2011, Dodson has been a pure striker. However, his wrestling background has allowed him to defend a staggering 82 percent of takedowns attempted against him, and to this day, Johnson is the only fighter who has managed to hold him down longer than a few moments. Yan is also mainly a striker, but he has dominated opponents on the ground in the past, so it will be interesting to see if he shoots for takedowns and whether or not Dodson’s speed and perfection of the basics are too much for him. Advertisement


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