The lightest weight classes for men in mixed martial arts (MMA) are arguably better than they’ve ever been.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) introduced the 125-pound Flyweight division in 2012 just two years after it absorbed World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) and introduced Bantamweights and Featherweights to the promotion. Participating in the early days of each was “The Magician,” John Dodson, who won his way through The Ultimate Fighter 14 (TUF) to secure his contract.
Dodson, 39, challenged for Flyweight gold on two occasions while Demetrious Johnson reigned over the division. Also having had success at Bantamweight where he won TUF 14, Dodson’s seen it all pre and post his UFC days, which came to an end in 2020. Thus begs the question: Are the Bantamweight and Flyweight divisions better across the globe than they’ve ever been as 2024 rapidly approaches?
“In some regards, yes,” Dodson told MMA Mania on BROADENED HORIZIN. “In different promotions, you’ve got some of the best athletes out there possible. Now, the new format that is coming into the ‘No. 1 promotion for mixed martial arts’ is kind of weird because we’re seeing a lot of guys come in with a lot of like low records. A lot of these dudes who are coming into UFC with four or five fights, it’s kind of hard for me to sit there and say that those guys are the best in the division and the best in the world even though they might be ranked higher than us. They haven’t been tested, they don’t really have the skills and the toolsets.
“I think Sean O’Malley would lose to Patchy Mix in that fight,” he concluded. “If those two had fought, I think Patchy would just tie him up, choke him out in the first round. The Bellator champion could beat the UFC champion.”
Dodson is still finding success despite this late point in his 37-fight career (24-13). The veteran is riding a three-fight winning streak with victory No. 4 in his sights when he returns to action against Hiromasa Ougikubo at RIZIN 45 on Dec. 31, 2023.
Meanwhile, outside of MMA, Dodson has kept busy in bare-knuckle boxing (BKB) by capturing the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC) Flyweight title in August 2023 (watch highlights). With a win over Ougikubo, “The Magician” hopes to get one step closer to another title and challenge the Flyweight championship winner of Kyoji Horiguchi vs. Makoto “Shinryu” Takahashi 2, which goes down the same night he faces Ougikubo.
“To be honest with you, how chaotic and sporadic this dude is, I might be able to put him away in the third,” Dodson said. “First round is gonna be very hard because he’s so very energetic and confident in the first round. In the second, me and him are gonna tussle a lot more, we’ll see who’s takedown abilities and can scramble the best. It’s gonna be a war between two of the best scramblers in the world. So, I wanna see how well I can go ahead with him because I’ve already did away with one, that being Tim Elliott. Even though he (Ougikubo) lost to Tim Elliott, I controlled the pace with one broken hand and I dominated the whole fight.
“I want to be able to do the same thing with this one, I just want the finish though,” he concluded. “No matter how.”
Watch the full episode in the video embedded above or listen on Spotify.