“The first couple of rounds were hard. He showed some stuff that I wasn’t ready for, and I had to dig deep like a champion and pull through and keep the pressure on him,” said Johnson. “He was fast. I should have just followed the game plan, but I was getting greedy and too excited, and I was standing there, brawling with him. Then I got caught. I got up, and I was like, ‘You’re alright. Just relax and breathe, and you’re going to get through it. You just got caught.’”
After hitting the deck in the second frame, Johnson saw his superior conditioning take over as the bout wore on. Though Dodson’s fast hands and explosiveness have proved a challenge for the champion the early going, it was Johnson who appeared the fresher of the men down the stretch, a fact that he attributes to both his preparation and Octagon experience.
“Anybody can be fast in the first couple of rounds. My wife is fast in the first round, but it’s a five-round fight. You’ve got to be fast all five rounds, and I am,” said Johnson. “Going five rounds with Joseph [Benavidez] and Dominick [Cruz] and six rounds with Ian McCall, that stuff is all under my belt. Now I went five rounds with a guy who isn’t faster than me, but he’s close. Going five rounds with him helps me out a lot. That’s what other fighters have to look forward to when they fight me.”
The championship rounds were particularly impressive for Johnson, despite accidentally catching a downed Dodson with an illegal knee to the head during a fourth-round flurry. Mighty Mouse then closed the distance on his hard-hitting foe in the final frame, controlling him in the clinch while punishing the challenger with knees, punches and elbows.
“If you look at all of John Dodson’s fights, he does not like to be in the clinch,” said Johnson. “When you’re clinching with Matt Hume and getting kneed by him on a daily basis, you’re ready for a knee from anybody in the flyweight or bantamweight division.”
Though Johnson is regarded by many as one of the sport’s top pound-for-pound talents, the AMC Pankration product says he is by no means satisfied with his resume as it currently stands.
“I’m just a hard worker,” said Dodson. “I know I still have lots to improve on. I’m ready to go back home and get ready for my next fight and keep on improving as a mixed martial artist.”