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John Dodson has been a fixture in the Ultimate Fighting Championship for the better part of a decade, but the two-time title challenger now more or less serves as a gatekeeper at 135 pounds.
“The Magician” will tackle former Absolute Championship Berkut titleholder Petr Yan in a three-round bantamweight showcase at UFC Fight Night 145 on Saturday at the O2 Arena in Prague, where he hopes to slow the rise of the red-hot Russian prospect. Dodson has alternated wins and losses in each of his past seven appearances and last competed at UFC 228 in September, when he wound up on the wrong side of a unanimous decision against Jimmie Rivera. The Ultimate Fighter Season 14 winner has compiled a 9-5 record under the UFC banner, with two of those losses coming to onetime flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson.
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As Dodson nears his confrontation with Yan, here are five things you should know about him:
1. Despite his strong strength of schedule, durability has never been an issue.
A pro since September 2004, Dodson has never been finished in his 30-fight career. All 10 of his defeats have resulted in decisions, four of them of the split variety. Dodson’s losses have come against Johnson (twice), Rivera, Marlon Moraes, John Lineker, Pat Runez, Mike Easton, Bill Boland, Joe Doherty, and Yasuhiro Urushitani — men with a cumulative record of 153-36-8.
2. Known for his acrobatic standup skills, the roots of his success can be traced to amateur wrestling.
Dodson was a two-time state wrestling champion at Moriarty High School in Moriarty, New Mexico, where he also played football and ran track.
3. Statistically, he made his mark as a flyweight.
Even though he moved to 135 pounds after two failed bids to unseat Johnson, Dodson left his imprint on the flyweight division — a weight class known more for blinding speed than brute strength. According to FightMetric, he still ranks second all-time among UFC flyweights with six knockdowns. Only Lineker (seven) has accumulated more.
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4. No one can question his resume.
Dodson has defeated current or former titleholders from the UFC (T.J. Dillashaw), World Extreme Cagefighting (Eddie Wineland), Bellator MMA (Zach Makovsky), Shooto Americas (Jussier da Silva), Tachi Palace Fights (Darrell Montague), Resurrection Fighting Alliance (Pedro Munhoz) and Titan Fighting Championship (Tim Elliott).
5. Lesser strikers have found it virtually impossible to neutralize him through other means.
The 5-foot-3 Dodson has successfully defended 82 percent of the takedowns attempted against him in Ultimate Fighting Championship competition. In fact, only Johnson, Munhoz and Moraes have managed to get him to the ground. In Dodson’s 10 other UFC bouts, opponents are a combined 0-for-33 on takedowns.