Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson had to battle through early adversity tonight against John Dodson in the main event of ‘UFC On FOX 6’, but in the end his tenacity and technique shone through as he rallied in the later rounds to claim a decision victory.
The two men are light on their feet as they circle each other in the opening minute exchanging the occasional leg-kick.
The first real action occurs when Dodson catches a kick from Johnson and lands a punch to dump him to the mat. Soon after he catches another kick and bundles him over again.
So far Dodson seems to be matching Johnson’s speed and has found his range quicker, landing with more of his shots though there’s not a huge output from him either so far.
Johnson goes for a takedown and eventually is able to plant Dodson onto the mat. That’s big for Johnson, but he’s unable to keep him there for long and they end up clinched against the cage.
Nothing doing here and they break apart and go back to the stand-up for the remaining moments of the round.
Early in the second round comes the biggest moment of the fight so far as Dodson lands with a two-piece combo that drops Johnson. He gets back up and Dodson continues to pursue him.
Before long dodson hurts Johnson again with punches and he’s really getting the upperhand now. Johnson’s finding it difficult to find a home for his own strikes so he looks for a takedown, but can’t get that either.
Dodson’s doing a great job of reading Johnson’s kicks and catches another couple of them and each time lands a hard punch in return.
Credit to Johnson though who’s taking a fair bit of punishment, but is coming forward regardless. He’s just having a hard time laying hands on Dodson either with strikes or takedown attempts.
In the final seconds of the round he does manage to tie Dodson up against the cage and lands a few nice knees to his midsection, but he’ll need more than that to redress the balance in the upcoming rounds.
Johnson tries to get something going in the third round, trying to move in even quicker into his opponent’s range. He speedily swoops for a takedown, but is only partially successful as Dodson has lightning reactions and half-tags him with a knee on the way in.
In another exchange Johnson lands an illegal knee to the groin and with Dodson wincing in pain we have brief stoppage while he recovers.
With the action back underway Dodson catches another kick and lands a punch in return – something he’s been having success with all night long.
Johnson is relentless though and his persistence eventually pays off as he rushes forward and is able to get him to the mat and secure the position.
He looks to land some ground and pound, but Dodson finds a way to wriggle free. However Johnson doesn’t let him off the hook as they get back up and fires off a nice combination of strikes against the cage.
Round four underway and Johnson is really working hard to swing this fight in his favor. He’s somewhat successful with that as he gets a brief takedown, but they are back upright in the blink of an eye with Johnson still controlling Dodson’s body from the clinch.
Johnson fires off a knee to the head, but Dodson’s hand was on the floor at the time so it’s illegal and we get another stoppage with Dodson wincing due to the blow landing to his left eye.
He’s ok to continue after a doctor check-up though and they get back to it. Guess what – before long Dodson catches yet another kick and lands a punch.
A prolonged spell of clinch work ensues and in the end Johnson has Dodson up against the cage again. Once again Dodson utilises the rule that allows him to prevent knee strikes to the head by putting his hand down onto the mat at times.
That doesn’t put off Johnson however as he just works knee strikes to his leg instead, and on the occasions when Dodson’s hand is off the mat he takes the opportunity to land them to the head, and it pays dividends as he opens up a significant cut in the final minute of the round.
So it’s all going to come down to the final round and there’s all to play for here. Roughly a minute in Johnson works some good strikes from the clinch and then dumps Dodson to the mat with a takedown.
Dodson gets up and is clipped with a left and a right as he does so. Now it’s dodson who’s clinching Johnson up against the cage. Interestingly Johnson hops up and lands some elbows down on Dodson a couple of different times before they break apart.
It’s now Dodson who’s really going for the clinch game, pressing up against the cage a couple of times before securing a brief takedown of his own.
Back on the feet and they clinch and start exchanging knees. Johnson gets the better of it and lands a hard knee to the head that takes some of the spring out of Dodson’s step.
More nasty knees to the head from the muay thai clinch from Johnson and Dodson’s not doing a good job of defending them and it’s taking a lot of punishment.
Dodson’s in real trouble now and has to hang on in the final minute as he takes a beating from more of Johnson’s knees to the face, but somehow he stays standing until the final bell.
Overall it’s a competitive fight that seemed to start in Dodson’s favor, but swung towards Johnson in the closing rounds.
So who wins? The judges give their verdict and it’s Johnson who earns the unanimous decision victory (48-47 x2, 49-46) and retains his flyweight title.
Johnson impressed tonight with the composed way with which he dealt with the adversity he faced in the early rounds, his ability to recouperate, his conditioning to push the pace into the later rounds and finally his ability to find a way to win and end the final round with his best spell of action in the entire fight.
Those are all signs of a champion who’s going to be very difficult to remove from his perch at the top of the flyweight division.
Dodson deserves plaudits too though as he matched Johnson’s much talked about speed early in the fight and showed excellent striking at times. Unfortunately for him he just couldn’t quite match the pace Johnson continued to set and has some holes to shore up in his thai clinch defense.
I don’t see any reason why Dodson can’t climb back up to the top though and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a rematch between these two at some stage in the future.