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John Dodson: The Magician Reappears

He’s baaack!

John Dodson is back, and the UFC flyweight division should be shaking in their shorts. It’s been nearly a year since The Ultimate Fighter 14 winner stepped inside the Octagon, but the electric knockout artist known as “The Magician” is fired up and ready to reclaim his spot as the number one contender.  

“I’m on point and making sure I’m focused on the task at hand,” Dodson said. “Even though I’m looking past this fight and want to fight [UFC flyweight champion] Demetrious Johnson, my main focus is on Zach Makovsky. He knows what it feels like to be a champion. He knows what it’s like to hold gold. I have not achieved that, so I cannot let him take my shot at showing I’m the best in the world. I already know that I’m the best in the world and that I will beat ‘Mighty Mouse,’ but I need to step over Zach Makovsky so I can get that title shot.”

At UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Khabilov in June of last year, Dodson scored a second round TKO of fellow top 10 flyweight John Moraga, which solidified his place in most people’s minds as the next title challenger. In an unfortunate turn of events, Dodson tore his ACL, had the surgery and sat on the sidelines watching others battle for the belt. All the while, fight fans have clamored for Dodson’s return and his second try at Mighty Mouse’s gold. In their first meeting, The Magician was the one to drop the champ, and he proved he could hurt Johnson with his striking.

“People are telling me I’m the hope of the flyweight division,” Dodson said. “For me, it’s one of the most humbling things on the planet that everybody appreciates my art, my craft. People want to see me fight Demetrious because everyone knows that title’s supposed to be mine. Everybody knows that Demetrious is a paper champion, and that’s why when I step into the Octagon the people cheer for me because they know I am the true champion. Either this year or next year, I know I’m going to have that title. It’s going to be around my waist and I’m going to be like Buddha just sitting there and rubbing it. Shower with it, walk around with it, I’ll probably even do a dance with it butt naked.”

Since their Fight of the Night clash in January 2013, the now 30-year-old native of Albuquerque has delivered back-to-back KO, rounding out his Octagon total to four. The most recent stoppage of the highly ranked Moraga was a doctor’s stoppage in between the second and third rounds. Besides getting another impressive UFC win, there was some extra heat in Dodson and Moraga’s tilt as it was a rematch from several years prior, where Dodson took a unanimous decision.

“I wanted to finish him to make sure there was no doubt in his mind that I was better than him,” Dodson said. “There was a lot of chatter that I got lucky the first time we fought. It was hurting my pride because I knew I had gone out there and performed and dominated that first fight. I wanted to prove it again. Not only could I dominate him, I could finish him. For them to stop it, it took the pleasure from me of finishing my job. I wanted a true finish and not a doctor stoppage. It was like me painting the Sistine Chapel and then them not letting me do the finishing touches to make sure that artwork was complete.”

Before a title tangle is possible, Dodson has a serious test ahead of him at UFC 187 in the form of Zach “Fun Size” Makovsky. The former NCAA Division I wrestler with a 19-5 pro record has his own sights set on climbing the UFC flyweight ranks, as Makovsky has reached the top of the mountain in several other organizations. Dodson and Makovsky are very familiar with each other as the pair have been friends and training partners for years. Training out of the famed Tristar gym, Makovsky will aim to improve his 3-1 UFC record and steal Dodson’s thunder by grounding the striker with relentless takedowns.

“It’s an honor to fight him,” Dodson said. “He’s been one of my training partners for a very long time. He was the first person I called when I got hurt to get him to be my replacement for Scott Jorgensen. He’s one of my closer friends and we know that after the fight, no matter who wins, we’re going to go out and party afterward and have a drink. Our styles match up very well. Zach is a very traditional wrestler just like I am, but I am more on that striking and he’s more on that jiu-jitsu. It’s going to be more of a jiu-jitsu vs. striker type of game. Can I stop his takedowns or can he take me down? That’s going to be the main question of that day.”

In preparation for Makovsky, Dodson has been busy training with the same team that got him to the big dance: Jackson-Winkeljohn. To get back to his highlight reel self, The Magician has been taking on the likes of Joby Sanchez, Damacio Page, Nick Urso, wrestling coach Jafari Vanier and striking coach Brandon Gibson. No doubt, the injury was a large speed bump in Dodson’s road back to Johnson, but with an impressive win over Makovsky, The Magician will meet Mighty Mouse again soon enough.

This Saturday, the flyweight division’s worst nightmare is back as Dodson returns in a clash against Makovsky. “Basically, I’m the boogeyman,” Dodson said. “Every time my name is brought up, those guys with the cool, calm, collected attitude get paranoid. They know when I go out there, I will do the one thing I know how to do and that is knock you out.”

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