Preview and Fight Picks: UFC 191 – Johnson vs. Dodson 2

Dodson Johnson fight

Even though the MMA world is currently in the calm before the end of year storm, we still are being treated to some top-class combat this weekend as UFC 191 goes down at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Topping the bill is a rematch two years in the making as the UFC’s lightest male champion Demetrious Johnson takes on the man that’s given him his stiffest test to date at the weight – John Dodson. In the first fight between the pair, Johnson had success with his usual quick-twitch, fast-moving attacks over the five round time limit but Dodson had him moving backwards and dazed at various times throughout the twenty-five minutes before eventually losing the decision. Since then, Johnson has gone on to defend his title with consummate ease five times while Dodson has won three fights and gone through two knee injuries.

As he showed in their last fight, and even more so in the five since, Demetrious Johnson is a truly magnificent fighter and, by anyone’s standard, is in the top-3 pound-for-pound mixed martial artists in the world today. From quick feet to beautiful head movement to powerful hands “Mighty Mouse” has it all. Since the flyweight division was born Johnson, under the tutelage of Matt Hume, has dominated and it’s largely down to that well-roundedness. As well as his outstanding work on the feet, Johnson is a expert at mixing in takedowns and, with an ever improving submission game, you can be safe nowhere against the champion.

With that all said, the greatest compliment you could give John Dodson is to say that he’s a comparably adept fighter. Training out of Greg Jackson’s world renowned gym in Albuquerque, Dodson has a skill set like no other in his division. Along with Johnson, he is the fastest fighter in the UFC today and uses that to jump in and out to land his big shots. But what separates Dodson from the pack,though, is his power. As a southpaw standing 5 feet 3 inches in height, Dodson hits with a left hand as powerful as those a couple of weight classes above. Along with the hard hands, Dodson is very dangerous with unusual shots from all angles – especially his flying knee. As a wrestler Dodson is good offensively and has improved defensively while his top control, quick passing and submission attacks are also on point.

As a fight this one is likely to look very similar to the first. Johnson will be very light on his feet early using leg kicks and jabs to keep the scoring going while not engaging too much against a fresh opponent. For Dodson, he will be looking to time Johnson and land that one, big, fight-ending shot. With that, though, comes the risk of it not happening. Previously, Dodson’s lack of output has worked against him when going to the scorecards so he will need to keep on top of that should the finish not come. As the fight goes on, expect Johnson to settle in, up his output and add in some takedowns. If that happens, although you can never rule him out, it’s probably too late for Dodson. In this fight it’s really a case of Dodson needing the finish to win because Johnson will score more points throughout the fight and win a decision if he doesn’t. For me, the champion avoids the big shots and retains.

Leading up to the main course on Saturday there are plenty of fine fights scheduled to whet the appetite – none more so than the co-main event between former UFC heavyweight champions Frank Mir and Andrei Arlovski. Between them, Arlovski and Mir have had 62 fights with 50 of those finishing inside the distance. As well as that, both men have held interim and full heavyweight titles and at 36, after unexpected career resurrections in the last year, are within touching distance of the gold again.

If their recent fights are anything to go by, this one should be an absolute cracker in the first round. Last time out, Frank Mir brought a new-found boxing attack with him to KO Todd Duffee while Arlovski also put away Travis Browne on the feet in the round of the year. As well as their striking prowess both men are extremely good grapplers with Mir a world class jiu-jitsu player and Arlovski a former Sambo stand-out. As always with heavyweights, especially of this vintage, this is a tough one to call and might come down to whose chin holds up the best and, after Arlovski showed against Travis Browne that he still can take a shot despite previous worries, he might be that man.

Outside of that there are some humdingers on this card like Irish-American banger Paul Felder vs. English boxer Ross Pearson, Golden girl Paige VanZant vs. former Aisling Daly opponent Alex Chambers and a possible classic in Cisco Rivera vs. John Lineker while an absolutely titanic meeting of light-heavyweight powerhouses also goes down as Anthony “Rumble” Johnson takes on English hope Jimi Manuwa in a fight where blinking isn’t advised.

FIGHT PICKS
Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson – Johnson weathers the early storm, wins a late stoppage
Andrei Arlovski vs. Frank Mir – Should be fun as long as it lasts, Arlovski KO
Anthony Johnson vs. Jimi Manuwa – DO. NOT. BLINK. Rumble KO.
Jan Błachowicz vs. Corey Anderson – Corey “Beastin’ 25/8” takes the decision
Paige VanZant vs. Alex Chambers – Should be another win for PVZ

Ross Pearson vs. Paul Felder – Tremendous action fight. Felder via KO
Francisco Rivera vs. John Lineker – Another great fight. I’m taking Lineker
Jessica Andrade vs. Raquel Pennington – After a closeish first fight I fancy Raquel for revenge
Clay Collard vs. Tiago Trator – Collard decision

Joe Riggs vs. Ron Stallings – Stallings, maybe? Sure.
Joaquim Silva vs. Nazareno Malegarie – Malegarie via submission

BET OF THE WEEK

My bet of the week is going to be Demetrious Johnson via KO or Sub at 7/2

START TIMES

Early prelims – 12am on UFC Fight Pass
Prelims – 1am on BT Sport 2
Main card – 3am on BT Sport 2

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook Facebook.com/seansheehanmma