AP NEWS

Dodson hopes to work some painful magic

February 23, 2019

Albuquerque?s John?The Magician? Dodson twice fought for the UFC flyweight title but is 3-3 since moving up to bantamweight. He faces Russia?s Petr Yan today. (Dean Hanson/Journal file)

Anyone who thinks “The Magician” is fresh out of tricks ? and he’s talking to you, Petr Yan ? is in for a surprise.

So says Albuquerque MMA fighter John Dodson, who’s scheduled to face Yan Saturday in a bantamweight fight on UFC Fight Night 45 in Prague.

The Dodson-Yan fight is on the main card, which will be streamed on ESPN+, the network’s new subscription site, starting at noon. The prelim card will be telecast on ESPN2, starting at 9 a.m.

Dodson, known in Albuquerque and throughout the MMA world for his cheerful demeanor and his slickness in the cage ? hence the nickname ? clearly enters today’s fight with a chip on his shoulder and a desire to hurt someone.

“They need to be reminded of how beautiful my violence is, and I’ll show them,” Dodson said from Prague in a phone interview.

Who are “they” exactly? Well, everyone: the UFC, the news media, the MMA world in general and Yan in particular.

During his 3?-year, seven-fight stint in the UFC’s flyweight (125-pound) division, Dodson compiled a 5-2 record, his only losses coming against then-flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. But since moving to the 135-pound bantamweight class, Dodson is 3-3. He’s coming off a loss to Jimmie Rivera by unanimous decision in September.

Now he’s matched with Yan, a 26-year-old Russian who’s 11-1 overall and 3-0 in UFC competition. Yan, nicknamed “No Mercy,” signed a new, four-fight contract last month and has gotten terrific reviews. He’s approximately a 3-1 favorite today.

Dodson, 20-10 overall at 34 years of age, is taking it personally ? sort of. He sees Yan, he said, not so much as a person but as an obstacle to be removed.

In a violent way, of course.

“He’s a fighter, a name that I get to go ahead and beat up,” Dodson said. “A new up-and-comer that everyone wants to rise to fame. (There’s) a weird, like, addiction to that dude.

“I’m gonna put him to sleep and make sure everyone remembers my name.”

Dodson would like it remembered, in particular, that he knocked out current UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw in the first round at The Ultimate Fighter 14 in 2011. More recently, he has lost by split decision to Marlon Moraes, the UFC’s No. 1 bantamweight contender, and to seventh-ranked John Lineker.

Dodson, ranked ninth, believes a victory over Yan can propel him into the title picture.

“I know I’m supposed to be here,” he said. “It’s not like I got here by luck, or like, ‘oh, well, (his day) has already come and gone.’

“That’s not true.”

Dodson and Yan each weighed in Friday at 136 pounds, a permissible one pound over the bantamweight limit.

HOLM UPDATE: Lenny Fresquez, Albuquerque MMA fighter Holly Holm’s agent, said on Thursday that a May 11 fight for Holm on UFC 237 in Rio de Janeiro against bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes would not happen because he didn’t want Holm fighting a Brazilian in Brazil.

Later on Thursday, Nunes made the issue moot ? saying personal issues would have prevented her from being adequately prepared for a fight in May.

“I’m thinking about fighting toward the end of the year, November or December,” Nunes said in an interview with combate.com, a Brazilian MMA website.

Nunes, however, said she remains extremely interested in fighting Holm and considers the Albuquerquean the logical candidate for her next fight.

“She’s the only former champion (at bantamweight or featherweight) that I haven’t fought,” she said. ”... It’s a fight that could be very well promoted and has a certain weight, because Holly is very well known.

“It’s a good challenge. She’s a versatile athlete, difficult to fight. ... Holly has a different style. She would give me a new challenge.”

Saturday

UFC Fight Night 45

O2 Arena, Prague. Main card: Jan Blachowitz vs. Thiago Santos, John Dodson vs. Petr Yan, four other fights. Streaming: ESPN+, noon