On Saturday night in the United Center in Chicago, the UFC flyweight championship was on the line as Demetrious Johnson defended against Ultimate Fighter winner John Dodson. The battle was fast-paced, as expected, although few would have guessed that Demetrious Johnson would be dropped three times in the opening frames of his first title defense.
However, in Round 3, everything turned around for "The Magician," and 15 minutes later, he saw Johnson have his arm raised as Bruce Buffer announced "Mighty Mouse" as the bout's winner.
So what went wrong for John Dodson?
Lack of Killer Instinct
In Round 2, Dodson scored a four-punch combination that dropped Johnson hard. All signs pointed to a new champion; however, the challenger apparently couldn't smell the blood in the water.
Instead of pressing the action and unleashing a flurry of strikes on his downed opponent, Dodson allowed Johnson to return to his feet and gave him a moment to recover.
Later in the frame, he landed another big shot that sent Mighty Mouse down, and this time he charged forward. However, this opening wasn't as good as the previous one, and Johnson was quickly back to his feet.
If the "what if's" in your life are going to haunt you in your senior years, there is no question that Dodson will always wonder what would have been if he had put his foot on the gas at a time that demanded it.
Conditioning Not Enough for Five Rounds
How many pitchers do you see take the mound and throw fastballs over and over again for nine full innings?
The reason that John Dodson faded after Round 3 lies in the fact that he throws a lot of haymakers. The flyweight has never had cardio issues in previous bouts, but then again, this is the first time that heavy-handed speedster went into championship rounds.
When Dodson couldn't keep his foot on the gas any longer, Johnson kept the pressure at a maximum and used superior technique to do a lot of damage up against the cage.
Demetrious Johnson Has Too Much Heart
Some may look at Johnson vs. Dodson as a flyweight version of Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard. The challenger has heavy hands and used them well in the early rounds. The champion recognizes the terrible situation that surrounds him and refuses to relinquish his belt.
Anyone who witnessed Johnson's fight with Joseph Benavidez saw exactly what his determination can accomplish. Benavidez secured a deep guillotine choke that should have ended the fight; however, the pure will of Johnson gave him the strength to frantically wiggle free and save himself.
That same determination saw Johnson test his own limits and drown Dodson in deep waters for the final rounds.
In any event, this was a great performance for John Dodson. He represented The Ultimate Fighter well and gave reason for viewers to believe that the show can still deliver championship fighters.
Unfortunately for The Magician, it was Johnson who proved himself the better man. With some quality performances in 2013 and a little bit of luck, he could find himself in title contention once again in early 2014.