Ultimate Fighter 14 winner John “The Magician” Dodson gets his second crack at Demetrious Johnson Saturday, Sept. 5 at UFC 191. Will the second time go any differently than the first, where Dodson put the champion in danger early but went on to lose a unanimous decision?

That’s a good question, and it’s exactly why the exiting, personable Dodson has been tapped for his second title shot at flyweight in two and a half years. Having not lost a fight since his first meeting with Mighty Mouse (a span of three fights), Dodson is still seen by many as the only real threat to Johnson’s reign.

He certainly has the tools: Dodson is a finisher, and holds a win over current bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw (who has, admittedly, come a long way since that loss at the TUF 14 finale back in 2011).

What does he do to become the second champion from that Ultimate Fighter season? Lets take a look!

Come Prepared For Five Rounds

When Dodson first met Johnson for the title back in 2013, he put the champion in some trouble early, knocking Mighty Mouse down not once but twice in the second round. Despite this, he couldn’t seal the deal, and over the course of the full twenty-five minutes, Johnson’s speed — his breakneck, never slow down pace — gave him the upper hand. Johnson won a unanimous decision, and Dodson went back to the drawing board.

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Dodson needs to be prepared to, at the very least, keep the pace up for the full twenty-five minutes, even if he can’t fully match Mighty Mouse’s speed.

Speaking Of Speed – Counter It

Easier said than done, right? Speed is one of the hardest things to “counter” in combat sports. It’s not necessarily a learned skill, though practice will help hone it. A lot of it is innate athletic ability, and very little besides speed itself can counter it. That said, Dodson has been in the cage with Demetrious Johnson once before. He has had ample time to watch tape. He will need to use that knowledge to help anticipate Johnson’s each and every move. While he might not hit 100% accuracy (nor would anyone realistically expect him to), he needs to have Johnson’s style down pat. That will help him counter the speed advantage, and allow him to work his own game plan.

Mimic A Successful Game Plan 

One fighter was extremely successful in a title bout against  Johnson — Dominick Cruz. Cruz, then the UFC’s bantamweight champion (prior to the flyweight division being established) defended his 135lb title again Johnson in a hard-earned unanimous decision back in 2011. It would be his final title defense prior to being stripped of the belt due to injury, and he would only fight once more (last year) before being injured yet again, yet it remains to this day the blueprint for how to defeat Mighty Mouse.

Footwork is key. The type of footwork Cruz displays in his fights is incredible (T.J. Dillashaw, despite having lost to Dodson at the TUF 14 final, has really improved his footwork of late, and would be another good example). Cardio is key. Cruz did not slow down in that fight, did not tire.

Unanimous decision or no, it was still a close fight, but following that blueprint will be key for anyone who hopes to unseat Johnson from his throne.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.