Former UFC flyweight title challenger John Dodson can inch closer to another title opportunity with an impressive showing this weekend at Fight Night 42 in New Mexico. The top-ranked contender meets up with fellow former title challenger John Moraga in a matchup that has explosive potential. It’s a rematch between the two as Dodson was able to get the better of Moraga back in 2010 when they were competing in the Nemesis Fighting promotion.
The former winner of The Ultimate Fighter has impressed during his Octagon tenure. “The Magician” has a strong combination of formidable punching power, tremendous speed and athleticism. Dodson gave champion Demetrious Johnson a tough fight at UFC on FOX 6, but dropped a unanimous decision in a Fight of the Night effort. He’d love to put himself in line to face the winner of the June 14 title clash between ”Mighty Mouse” and Ali Bagautinov by producing an impressive performance.
Dodson’s most recent effort was a first-round destruction of Darrell Montague at UFC 166. He had been slated to fill in as an injury replacement against Scott Jorgensen at UFC on FOX 9, but sustained a knee injury during training. He has a 15-6 career record, and owns a knockout win over new UFC bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw. Dodson stopped “The Viper” in the first round to win the TUF Season 14 crown.
The no. 5-ranked Moraga is being given a prime opportunity to work his way back into title contention if he can spring the upset. It won’t be an easy assignment given Dodson’s skills and the fact that Moraga will be fighting in his opponent’s hometown of Albuquerque. Moraga has won eight of his last nine fights, with that lone defeat coming at the hands of Johnson in their title affair at UFC on FOX 8.
While Moraga turned in a commendable effort against the champ before finally being submitted in the fifth round, his last Octagon performance was somewhat disappointing. Moraga was fortunate in many people’s eyes to emerge with a split decision victory at Fight Night 35 against Dustin Ortiz. He will need to raise the bar substantially in this fight if he has any chance of success against Dodson. Moraga has a 14-2 career record with eight finishes by knockout or submission.
This shapes up as a very meaningful matchup in the 125-pound division. Both men have experienced the sting of failure in going for gold and have high hopes of earning another shot. An exciting performance could net the winner a fight against whoever is wearing the belt once the dust has settled at UFC 174.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports