John Dodson was stunned when he received word that he was being released from the UFC. Two years later, he still doesn’t understand the move.
Despite facing a murderer’s row of opposition at both bantamweight and flyweight, the two-time title challenger was unceremoniously dropped from the promotion after a single loss to Merab Dvalishvili, who is now ranked as one of the best fighters in the world at 135 pounds.
After two fights outside the UFC, Dodson joined the roster at BKFC and made quite the impression with a blistering first-round knockout over fellow octagon veteran Ryan Benoit. The win not only welcomed him to the world of bare-knuckle fighting, but it also allowed him the well-earned chance to respond to naysayers who told him he was done.
“They keep telling me ‘you’re washed up’ going into all these other organizations,” Dodson said when speaking to MMA Fighting. “They keep on calling me a journeyman, and I take that as such disrespect. I’m not a journeyman.
“I’m still one of the top guys that could ever fight. For me, that was a sign of disrespect with the UFC just letting me go.”
A quick look at his resume proves Dodson never backed down from a challenge. He faced six opponents who either served as UFC champion or fought for the title, and just about every other opponent held a place inside the promotion’s top-15 rankings.
It stings particularly hard when Dodson looks at some of the fighters near the top of his division, where he knows he could still do a lot of damage.
“The fight with Merab, he took down Jose Aldo, kept holding him down, and Jose Aldo is the king of Rio at 145 and they talked about what a great athlete Jose was but when I stopped every single one of his takedowns, they said it was a decent fight but boring because I just stopped all his takedowns,” Dodson lamented. “I’m like yeah but I outstruck him, he just tried to take me down. Out of 22 takedowns, he got one. You guys downplay me.
“It’s just heartbreaking for me. I’m watching this flyweight division, the champions are sharing the title between Brandon Moreno and Deiveson Figueiredo, who are going to fight for the fourth time again and it still dawns on me again like why the hell did I get booted? I can obviously make waves in that division.”
None of that mattered when it came time to trim the roster as Dodson got his walking papers, which still doesn’t sit right with him even though he’s happy that he finally moved on.
“I’m still a little sour about it but at the end of the day, that’s out of my control,” Dodson said. “I can’t control that. They let me go for a good reason, I just don’t know what the reason is but I’m the opportunity they missed on. They can see how well I performed for BKFC.”
Perhaps his UFC release will end up as a blessing in disguise. Dodson admits he had a lot of fun competing in bare-knuckle for the first time. He looked as fast as ever on his feet before delivering a series of rapid-fire punches that put Benoit down and out just 40 seconds into the first round.
It felt even more special that Dodson was able to pull off that kind of win in front of his hometown Albuquerque crowd.
“This was showing everybody that I’m back to my same killer form and the beast has been awakened,” Dodson said.
“I’m definitely built for this. My whole style is directed to [bare knuckle]. I hit first, I hit last. I move in and out, I’m very elusive and when I do hit you with a barrage of punches — it’s a thousand punches at one time and not one single person can stop me. I’m a freight train when I’m throwing punches.”