UFC 152 will forever stick out in John (The Magician) Dodson’s mind.
Firstly, during the post-fight press conference at the Air Canada Centre Sept. 23, UFC president Dana White announced Dodson’s bout with Jussier (Formiga) da Silva at UFC on FX 5 in Minneapolis on Friday will determine the No. 1 contender for newly-crowned flyweight champion Demetrious (Mighty Mouse) Johnson.
Secondly, he remembers being baffled as the Toronto fans booed Johnson’s inaugural-title victory over Joseph Benavidez.
“I thought (Johnson) did awesome; he did a tremendous job,” Dodson said over the phone. “He went out there and put on a show that everyone else was booing. I thought it was a phenomenal fight from both of them.
“They put on a world-class show and nobody liked it. That’s why I was upset.
“I think it was just drunken idiots being drunken idiots. It’s not going to hurt us at all. As flyweights, we understand — if they’re going to be idiots, fine. We’re just going to let them be idiots — because why? We’re awesome. We’re going to make sure the sport keeps on prospering and making us look even better than before.”
The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 winner admits to being puzzled by critics who have been so quick to jump on the UFC’s 125-pound division, which debuted in March.
“Everything we’ve done leading up to this has been nothing short of amazing,” Dodson said. “We’re coming with great fighters all the time. People are finishing — they’re doing things that aren’t supposed to be done.
“Critics sit there and say we don’t have knockout power. Well, if everyone remembers, I knocked out almost everybody on the show, on The Ultimate Fighter. John Moraga knocked out (Ulysses Gomez). Louis Gaudinot just finished (John Lineker). Joseph Benavidez knocked out (Yasuhiro Urushitani) for him to get that title shot.
“So I’m just confused over what people have a problem with. Do they have a problem with us having the talent, do they have a problem with us having better technique, or that we throw more punches? I don’t know what’s wrong with them.”
Dodson may have been annoyed by the fan reaction during Johnson’s bout with Benavidez, but he’s hardly going to dwell on it. He knows he has his hands full with da Silva.
Though UFC on FX 5 marks the Brazilian submission specialist’s UFC debut, he has been one of the top flyweights in the world for years. The Nova Uniao fighter even occupied the No. 1 spot before dropping a unanimous decision to Ian McCall in early 2011. The loss is the sole blemish in his 15-fight career.
Dodson knows he can’t get too excited at the prospect of a title shot just yet.
“(The title shot is) just something else that they’ve mentioned,” Dodson said. “I’m not lacking any motivation to get that title shot. Jussier da Silva is not an easy opponent. He’s one of those dudes who’s been around for a while and he was the No. 1 flyweight for the longest time. I want to go ahead and steal his spotlight.
“Most people are sitting there, going, ‘I don’t know who he is.’ He’s the Brazilian best. He’s the best 125er in Brazil and one time he was the best in the world. I want to be able to say I can hang with that type of calibre.”
If da Silva were to capture the flyweight championship, Nova Uniao would have titleholders in three different divisions. Jose Aldo has held the featherweight belt for almost two years, while Renan Barao recently captured the interim bantamweight strap.
Dodson said he relishes the role of playing spoiler.
“Of course, I like being the bad guy,” Dodson said. “It’s going to have to sound like I am. I’m the bad guy to these guys’ camps, but I want to be that guy for everybody. There are no heroes in this sport.
“There’s always bragging rights, but for me it’s just another fight. (Da Silva) is another opponent. Their team versus my team — I don’t ever think about it like that. It’s that fighter versus me.”
Dodson said if da Silva thought McCall was tricky, he hasn’t seen anything yet.
“The way I stack up with him is I have better striking and speed,” Dodson said. “I’m going to be faster and have more agility than anyone he’s dealt with. If he thought Ian McCall was fast, I’m way faster than Ian McCall is.
“I’m not going to sit here and say a lot because I don’t want him to know, but there’s something I have planned out for him.”
“Everybody out there is going to know John Dodson is here. And when John Dodson and Demetrious Johnson fight for that world title, it’s going to be the fastest, most intense-paced fight they’ve ever seen. They’re going to have watch back in slow motion on replay.”
HOW TO WATCH UFC ON FX 5
MAIN CARD (Sportsnet ONE, 8 p.m. ET)
Travis Browne vs. Antonio Silva
Jake Ellenberger vs. Jay Hieron
John Dodson vs. Jussier da Silva
Josh Neer vs. Justin Edwards
PRELIMS (Sportsnet ONE, 5 p.m.)
Yves Edwards vs. Jeremy Stephens
Danny Castillo vs. Michael Johnson
Dennis Hallman vs. Thiago Tavares
Shane Roller vs. Jacob Volkmann
Diego Nunes vs. Bart Palaszewski
Phil Harris vs. Darren Uyenoyama
PRELIMS (Facebook, 4 p.m.)
Marcus LeVesseur vs. Carlo Prater
Mike Pierce vs. Aaron Simpson
Daniel Cormier fights in one month, but he still has no idea who he is facing.
The Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix champion was set to meet Frank Mir on the Nov. 3 Strikeforce card, but the former UFC titleholder suffered an undisclosed injury during training.
Following the UFC on FUEL TV 5 post-fight press conference in England on Saturday, UFC president Dana White told reporters he offered the opportunity to Matt Mitrione. However, The Ultimate Fighter veteran turned the fight down, in a move White called “disgusting.”
During an interview with Bloody Elbow, Mitrione admitted he considered fighting Cormier a bad career move.
“It was an honour to get that call, and I would love to fight Daniel Cormier, but I’m just not ready right now,” Mitrione said. “He has Olympic-level wrestling, and although I have spent a great deal of time working on my wresting, I don’t feel it would be my best fight back after such a long layoff.
“UFC worked hard to get me a fight this year, but my old opponent had visa issues and it caused additional time out of the cage. Wrestling is, by far, my weakest skill. I’m working hard on my wrestling, but it would be a huge weakness against me in a short-notice fight against Cormier.”
With time running out, Cormier has now taken matters into his own hands, pushing for Pat Barry to jump ship.
“@danawhite offer the fight to @HypeOrDie,” Cormier wrote. “He’s from Louisiana like me. He will take the fight. Let’s do it!”
Barry has since stated he would step up and face the NCAA Division I wrestler, but a bout agreement has yet to be signed.
Barry’s last outing saw the charismatic kickboxer suffer a brutal TKO loss to Lavar Johnson at UFC on FOX 3 in May.
SILVA KO WAS GRIFFIN’S LOWEST POINT
Forrest Griffin has often referred to his TKO loss to Anderson Silva as the lowest point in his career.
The two met at UFC 101 on Aug. 8, 2009 in a bout that saw Silva blow Griffin out of the water, dodging around the former light-heavyweight champion’s punches like a scene out of The Matrix, before putting him away with a counter jab.
During a recent appearance on The MMA Hour, Griffin admitted not only did he lose the fight in spectacular fashion, he tested positive for anxiety medication.
“I failed my drug test I think for Xanax,” Griffin said. “I had a doctor’s prescription. I didn’t do it before the fight, I did it the night before. I was nervous and I couldn’t sleep.”
As per its policy, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission did not make Griffin’s results public.
The Ultimate Fighter Season 1 winner admitted he didn’t feel the need to offer up the information at the time.
“What’s the point?” Griffin said bluntly. “Why add humiliation to a bad situation?”
UFC RELEASES FIGHTERS
The UFC has taken care of a little house cleaning.
Charlie Brenneman, Eiji Mitsuoka, Michihiro Omigawa, Tommy Hayden and Walel Watson have all been cut by the world’s largest MMA organization.
Brenneman confirmed his departure via Twitter.
“Thanks so much for all the support,” Brenneman wrote. “This is just the proverbial next chapter. Working towards a great ending, though, so stay tuned.”
Following his stunning upset victory over Rick Story last year — a bout “The Spaniard” took on only 24-hours notice — Brenneman has gone 1-3 in the octagon. His last outing saw him suffer a TKO loss to Kyle Noke at UFC 152 in Toronto on Sept. 22.
On the heels of Brenneman’s release, a report by MMA Opinion stated four other fighters have been axed. Though the UFC tends not to announce firings, fighter profiles for Mitsuoka, Omigawa, Hayden and Watson have all been removed from UFC.com.
Mitsuoka’s time with the organization was short-lived, as the Japanese featherweight suffered consecutive TKO defeats to Takanori Gomi and Nik Lentz before being shown the door.
Once ranked among the top 145-pound fighters in the world, Omigawa’s most recent UFC stint saw him put together a 1-4 record, dropping decisions to Chad Mendes, Darren Elkins, Yuri Alcantara and Manny Gamburyan. His decision over Jason Young in November remains his sole UFC victory. He first debuted with the organization five years ago, losing decisions to lightweights Matt Wiman and Thiago Tavares.
Hayden’s release comes following a 0-2 run with the UFC. The featherweight was submitted by both Fabricio Camoes and Dennis Bermudez.
After an impressive promotional debut one year ago that saw him earn a TKO victory over Joseph Sandoval, Watson has been on the losing end of his last three bouts. Following decision losses to Yves Jabouin and T.J. Dillashaw, he was submitted by Sudbury, Ont., native Mitch Gagnon at UFC 152 last month.