UFC on Fox 6 Breakdown: Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson
I’m not going to sit here and make you read through a whole bunch of this breakdown before I level with you. I think Demetrious Johnson is going to beat John Dodson, and I think it’s going to be relatively easy for the Flyweight champ to retain his title. That doesn’t mean Dodson isn’t a good fighter deserving of a title shot or place near the top of the Flyweight division, just that Johnson is simply a bad match-up for him.
I do expect this fight to go to decision, and I do expect the first couple of rounds to be rather competitive, but like he did to Joseph Benavidez and Ian McCall (in the rematch), Johnson should make it progressively more obvious that he is winning the fight as the later rounds go by.
Something that I hadn’t realized about Johnson which came to light when I was reviewing tape for this bout is that he has never lost a fight by losing the striking. Each of his losses (and even his draw) has come from a larger grappler getting and advancing top position, being able to hold it for varying degrees.
In his UFC debut he was defeated by Brad Pickett in a bout where he outlanded the Brit nearly 2:1 in significant strikes, despite being taken down a whopping 10 times. The takedowns in this bout came primarily as a result of Johnson not being as refined in his entry and exit angles when striking as he is now. He leapt in with strikes from a greater distance, allowing Pickett to drop under them and easily complete numerous double legs. Pickett was also able to advance position, gaining mount in each round, but Johnson’s positional defence and scrambling kept the damage to a minimum. This fight was very early in Johnson’s career, and marked a massive step up in competition from his previous opponents. Were the two to fight again today, I would have no concerns picking ‘Mighty Mouse’.
His next defeat came to Dominick Cruz in his bid for the Bantamweight title. The two were nearly even in significant strikes (slight edge to Johnson), and for the first and only time in Cruz’s Zuffa career, he was forced to go to his grappling game in order to clearly win a fight. Cruz has always mixed in his takedowns to keep opponents off balance, but Johnson’s speed made the champion resort to his wrestling to pick up the win. Those who closely watched this fight were quite prepared for what Johnson has accomplished at Flyweight, if not a bit shocked at his first performance at the weight.
That first 125lb bout against Ian McCall served as the most recent blemish on Johnson’s record. This is the most aberrant of the three fights mentioned as it is the only Zuffa fight that Demetrious has ever tired in. His fatigue — likely brought upon by a poor weight cut in his first attempt — coupled with McCall having the similar grappling attributes as Pickett and Cruz led to a third round in which Johnson was not only taken down, but controlled and damaged for a significant period of time. The rematch against McCall went much differently, as ‘Uncle Creepy’ was unable to initiate his grappling and impose any sort of control against Johnson. To me, this lends credence to the notion that the events of the first fight occurred more due to Johnson’s fatigue than anything else.
Aside from these three instances, all against fighters who presented similar issues for Johnson, he has not lost. In fact he has rarely found himself in any sort of trouble outside of these fights, and as mentioned earlier he has been the more effective stand up striker in all of his Zuffa bouts. His speed, both in terms of movement and striking, makes him nearly impossible to deal with on the feet. His offence has become quite unpredictable and difficult to defend, as his movement allows him to use angles many fighters simply aren’t capable of preparing for. Defensively, his movement makes him the fighter who controls range in all of his fights. This leaves his entry into his attacks as the only real opportunity for his opponents to land damaging strikes, but as just mentioned the angles he takes on his entry to striking range makes that difficult. Truly, Johnson is a puzzle on the feet who has not yet been solved.
Some have pointed to Dodson’s speed as a factor that can even this bout out, and finally present Johnson with some problems, but Dodson uses his speed in a far more limited capacity than Johnson. Whereas Dodson uses his speed in bursts, Johnson is in perpetual motion for whatever portion of 25 minutes he needs to be. The fact is, Dodson can be a lazy fighter for long periods of time. For example, in his most recent bout against Jussier da Silva he was at his worst from an activity standpoint in the first round. He only outlanded Formiga 9-6 in that round, despite a marked striking advantage. Against Johnson, he can’t afford to take rounds off, and that is something far too ingrained in his character as a fighter for him to get away from.
For Dodson to win this fight, he must follow the gameplan set out by those who have already defeated the champion. I don’t think he can replicate the route Cruz or Pickett took to victory — even if he had the inclination — and I certainly don’t see him winning the stand-up portion of this bout for 25 minutes. Could Dodson land his left hand and potentially end the fight that way? I suppose, but equally accomplished strikers have failed in their bids to outstrike Johnson, and I have seen no evidence from Dodson to imagine he’ll be any different.
Give me Johnson by decision. I’ve already bet the prop @ -140 (it sits at -151 on 5dimes.eu), and the straight line @ -225 seems like a low-cost option to include in a parlay.