LAS VEGAS -- John Dodson got the win he needed. But will just a win be good enough?
Dodson defeated Zach Makovsky via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28) Saturday night at UFC 187 here at MGM Grand. But it was a relatively uneventful fight with little action -- far different than what we're used to seeing from the electric Dodson.
However, "The Magician" still thinks he should be granted the next title shot against Demetrious Johnson.
"It's a no-brainer for me," Dodson said at the post-fight press conference. "I always still want to beat up Demetrious Johnson. I want to knock him out."
Dodson (17-6) was in line for a title shot last year before tearing his ACL. He was much more deserving of it than Chris Cariaso, who Johnson ended up beating at UFC 178. And an impressive win over Makovsky would have made the decision easy for UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby.
But now it's a little more difficult. The fight was close and Dodson didn't get a thorough victory. Some even thought Makovsky should have gotten the nod from judges.
Dodson, 30, will benefit from the lack of other potential contenders out there. Joseph Benavidez is at the top of the division, but has already lost to Johnson twice. Jussier Formiga and Wilson Reis meet next week in Brazil and the winner of that fight would be in good standing, albeit basically unknown. Then there's Henry Cejudo, a dark horse candidate. The former Olympic gold medalist and top prospect faces Chico Camus at UFC 188 on June 13 in Mexico City. An impressive victory could put him on the fast track.
Dodson, though, is dying to get another crack at Johnson, who beat him by unanimous decision in January 2013. That was one of the closest fights of Johnson's title reign. Two judges had Dodson winning a pair of rounds in that contest.
"I thought I won the first time that me and him faced each other and I believe the next time it comes around the outcome is gonna be way different," Dodson said. "I'm gonna still go out there, beat him up and I'm gonna get a clear decision or a clear victory by knocking him out."
Johnson has certainly gotten better in the last two years. Maybe Dodson has, too. He just didn't demonstrate it Saturday night for multiple reasons. Dodson was making his return from ACL surgery after nearly a year layoff. Plus, he and Makovsky are longtime training partners. It was difficult for either of them to gain an edge in three rounds, because they knew each other so well.
"Yeah, it was important for me to go out there and try to be exciting and try and fight as hard as I could coming off that long layoff," Dodson said. "I had some ring rust that I had to work through, but Zach Makovsky is one of the tremendous athletes. Me and him have been training for six years, so we knew each other in and out. I couldn't give you guys the performance knowing that he knew what my strength was and I knew what he was going to do, so it kind of looked like two guys just trying to play chess out there."
Maybe it isn't quite as much of a no-brainer as he believes, but Dodson is still likely in line for a title shot. Even if Johnson seems to disagree.
I have it makovsky 2-1— Demetrious Johnson (@MightyMouseUFC) May 24, 2015