Friday, Sept. 4, 2015 | 2 a.m.
John Dodson remembers experiencing some of the most ecstatic emotions of his career immediately following his fight against Demetrious Johnson.
He knew their flyweight championship bout two years ago at UFC on Fox 6 in Chicago was close but thought he had won. Confidence turned to assurance, Dodson said, when he spoke with the UFC president in the octagon.
“Dana White came up to me and said, ‘John, you are the new champion. How does it feel?’” Dodson recalled. “I was like, ‘Yes, the boss just told me I was the new champion. I don’t see how they cannot give this fight to me.’ Hearing those words was like already having the belt around my waist.”
The belt never went around his waist, though. UFC announcer Bruce Buffer read a unanimous-decision verdict in favor of Johnson seconds later, which sent White stepping the other way with the gold.
Not many days have passed since when Dodson, a 30-year-old veteran from Albuquerque goes without revisiting the fight in his head. That ends Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena where Dodson can exorcise what he considers a flawed decision against Johnson.
The rematch between the top two 125-pound fighters in the world headlines UFC 191, which airs on pay-per-view at 7 p.m.
“I get a chance to go out there and destroy somebody who I do not like,” Dodson said. “I dislike Demetrious Johnson because of the fact that he has something that belongs to me.”
Dodson, who’s won three straight since the loss, sought a rematch ever since the first fight ended but Johnson resisted. That caused Dodson to grow irritated with Johnson, whom he previously respected.
Dodson watched Johnson’s ensuing five title defenses bitterly, coming away impressed only once — a first-round knockout over Joseph Benavidez. Johnson’s performances further convinced Dodson that he was destined to win the title.
“I’m going to murder him in the cage, lay death to his title reign, and not only that, but put whatever hope I can and pray that he doesn’t want to fight me again,” Dodson said.
Dodson feels the delay in facing Johnson again set his career off course, so he’s determined to make up for the lost time.
He’s always held a goal of winning titles in multiple weight classes and would ideally go after the bantamweight championship immediately after winning at flyweight. Dodson happens to dislike bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw, whom he knocked out in the first round to win ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ 14, even more than Johnson.
Dillashaw calling their first fight a fluke or early stoppage is more aggravating to Dodson than the narrow loss to Johnson.
“T.J. can't stand there and say (expletive) because when I dropped him, (referee) Herb Dean had to cuddle him like a little kid after he got beat up at the school playground,” Dodson said. “He had wobbly legs. He had baby deer syndrome. He couldn’t stand up to walk.”
With a win at UFC 191, Dodson plans to aggressively pursue champion vs. champion opportunities, something he’s frustrated that Johnson hasn’t embraced.
“Everyone wants to set goals and records but my goals are a little more attainable than everyone else’s,” Dodson said. “Demetrious Johnson is sitting there saying he wants to fight Dillashaw for $2 million, and we all know that’s not going to happen because that can’t sell worth (expletive). Now when I fight TJ after I destroy Demetrious, people are only wanting to watch us fight because I’m fighting.”
Dodson dropped Johnson twice early at UFC on Fox 6, but faded over the second half of the fight. Dodson expects to knock out Johnson, whom he accuses of not being able to take a punch, but wouldn’t guarantee it.
He revealed the backup plan as a plot to pound Johnson’s face badly enough to make him look like “the boogeyman” in front of the judges. A scene that devastating is the only way Dodson will feel comfortable if the fight goes to the scorecards after what happened last time.
“I thought there was no way it could go any other way,” Dodson said. “I play that thought in my head every single time, every day because Dana White told me I won.”