By Jaime C. Feal
Fans get treated to another free title fight on FOX this Saturday as flyweight champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson takes on Ultimate Fighter winner John “The Magician” Dodson. This will be the first title defense for Johnson, who is the first ever UFC Flyweight champion after beating Joseph Benavidez. In the co-main event, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson fights for what is likely the last time within the UFC, against the fearsome Brazilian Glover Teixeira. Noone has stepped up to fight Glover, as he is an absolute beast of a light heavyweight, and Rampage deserves props for taking the fight at this stage of his career.
Lightweight Division (155 lbs.):
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (19-4, 6-1 UFC) vs. Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (15-2, 2-1 UFC)
A grudge match that has been in the works for quite some time, but was derailed by an injury to Pettis, finally comes to fruition. Cerrone was on the cusp of a title shot before he got knocked back down the ladder by Nate Diaz. This is a chance for him to move right back up the ladder as he fights possible #1 contender Anthony Pettis. The man they call “Showtime” was the last fighter to defeat current UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson. The final fight of the WEC, in fact, was when Pettis landed the memorable off-the-cage kick to Henderson’s face, one of the highlights of 2010.
Both fighters come from very solid camps, with Cowboy Cerrone training out of Greg Jackson’s MMA, and Pettis being a product of Duke Roufus and RoufusSport. Both these lightweights are excellent strikers, who love to utilize leg kicks. Pettis has more speed and flash in his techniques, and Cerrone tries to be more technical. Pettis and Cerrone have had harsh words for eachother in the past, and have also shown a willingness to engage in a stand up war. Fans can expect more of the same as both men test eachother on the feet to see who is superior. If either man shoots for a takedown that is a sign they are not comfortable with what they are finding out on the feet. Whoever comes out on top is probably one win away from a title shot. If Pettis wins very impressively, he has a case for an immediate title shot.
Light Heavyweight Division (205 lbs.):
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (32-10, 7-4 UFC) vs. Glover Teixeira (19-2, 2-0 UFC)
If you’re a Rampage Jackson fan you need to tune in tomorrow night as this is almost certainly his last ever fight in the UFC. Rampage has been an extremely disgruntled employee for at least a year now, saying he is not happy with the way he has been treated ans is looking to fight elsewhere. This is Rampage’s last fight on his current contract with the UFC, and it is really far-fetched to see them negotiating a nerw contract with him after all the drama, and at this late stage of his fighting career.
Standing in Rampage’s way is someone that no light heavyweight wants a piece of – Glover Teixeira. This guy is an absolute monster, on a 17 fight winning streak, a huge light heavy with power and jiu-jitsu. He can KO you on the feet, he can submit you on the ground, he is tough and durable with lots of heart. Other than Alexander Gustafsson, Teixeira may be the light heavy who poses the biggest threat to current champ Jon “Bones” Jones.
Whether this fight is Teixeira’s coming out party or a vintage Rampage performance depends on one’s point of view. Vegas has Teixeira as a 3:1 favorite and for good reason: A 17 fight-winning streak, extreme motivation, and a great skillset make him very dangerous. Rampage, conversely, has looked terrible lately in the cage, and has shown mental weakness with his interviews and statements. While it’s tough to count on Rampage and his one-punch knockout power, all the advantages seem to be in Teixeira’s corner for this one.
UFC Flyweight Championship (125 lbs.):
Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (16-2-1, 4-1-1 UFC) vs. John “The Magician” Dodson (14-5, 3-0 UFC)
The little guys scrap on network TV for the flyweight belt. Usually the lower weight classes produce fast-paced, dynamic, and exciting bouts. This title fight should be no different: Both Johnson and Dodson are great athletes with insane speed. What makes this matchup so interesting is for the first time Johnson may be meeting his equal in the speed department. Dodson is super quick, and stronger and a slightly better athlete than Johnson. “Mighty Mouse” may hold a slight edge in speed, we’ll find out tomorrow night, but if Johnson doesn’t hold the speed edge, this could be the first time we see him slip up in the Octagon.
Many assumed Joseph Benavidez would be able to put away Johnson with his superior power and wrestling. What pundits didn’t account for, however, is that Johnson was simply too quick to be taken down, too fast to be hit. In Dodson, of course, he faces someone who is also used to always having ths speed edge. “The Magician” has also shown great knockout power, as demonstrated in his brutal wins over Johny Bedford, T.J. Dillashaw, and Jussier Formiga.
Vegas has this fight as Johnson being a 2:1 favorite. Dodson has great value here as he has consistently been underrated and come out on top time after time. This fight is actually extremely close, it could go either way, so the odds should be almost dead even, not 2:1 in favor of Mighty Mouse. Regardless of who you want to win and why, this important title fight figures to be highly entertaining. Make sure to tune in tomorrow night on FOX.