With John Dodson On the Shelf, Who Could Be Next For UFC Flyweight Champ Demetrious Johnson?

By Rick LaFitte
John Dodson and Demetrious Johnson during UFC on FOX 6 flyweight title clash
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Any intentions the UFC had for a title rematch between flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson and John Dodson were dashed by the recent news that the No. 1 ranked contender had undergone ACL surgery. “The Magician” is now on the shelf for up to a year, meaning the organization will have to look elsewhere for Johnson’s next title defense.

Johnson and Dodson seemed poised for a second encounter after both were victorious in their last fights. Dodson stopped John Moraga last month at Fight Night 42, but suffered further injury to an already damaged knee. It’ll be six-to-eight months before he can begin training again.

“Mighty Mouse” retained his title in lopsided fashion at UFC 174 with a unanimous decision win against Ali Bagautinov. With Johnson having already defeated most of the top contenders, UFC President Dana White was adamant that Dodson would be next up.  Johnson defeated Dodson by unanimous decision in their Fight of the Night title clash back at UFC on FOX 6. The injury to Dodson scuttles those plans, but opens the door for other 125-pound contenders to shine.

The next challenger for Johnson’s title could possibly be determined this weekend at Fight Night 46 in Ireland. Brad Pickett and Ian McCall are slated to square off on the main card in Dublin. The No. 10 ranked Pickett would likely have the best chance of anyone to face Johnson next, if he’s victorious.

“One Punch” made a successful debut in the flyweight division with a unanimous decision win over Neil Seery at Fight Night 37 in England. He owns a previous victory over the champ dating back to their time competing as bantamweights in the WEC. It also doesn’t hurt Pickett’s chances that he happens to be one of White’s favorite fighters because of his exciting style.

“Uncle Creepy” can’t be overlooked. McCall is very familiar with Johnson having already fought him twice. Their first matchup ended in a draw while McCall lost the second bout by unanimous decision. He could make his case for another crack at “Mighty Mouse” if he’s able to get by Pickett. McCall currently occupies the No. 3 ranking and has faced many of the division’s best.

Another future clash to keep an eye on is the Zach MakovskyJussier Formiga battle at Fight Night 47 in Maine. Makovsky is currently riding a four-fight win streak and has posted back-to-back Octagon victories. The former RFA champion has been a welcome addition to the UFC’s 125-pound weight division and currently holds down the No. 9 ranking.

If “Fun Size” is successful on Aug.16 against the dangerous Brazilian submission specialist, Makovsky could conceivably be next in line. Formiga came to the promotion with plenty of hype and is starting to finally show some promise. He recorded a first-round submission win over Scott Jorgensen in his last appearance. Formiga would be elevated into the title conversation if he can derail Makovsky’s current momentum.

No matter how it all plays out, it’s highly unfortunate that fans won’t get to see Dodson-Johnson 2 next. It’s the best flyweight title fight that can be made. Dodson’s misfortune will allow other contenders to state their case to be next in line. It’ll be interesting to see which one of them makes the biggest statement.

Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports

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