While there probably will be more fireworks in the featherweight finale, perhaps the more intriguing matchup on this weekend’s “The Ultimate Fighter” season finale might be the bantamweight matchup between John Dodson and T.J. Dillashaw. On paper it shouldn’t be but fights aren’t decided on paper. They’re decided in a cage.
Dodson comes into the fight up a weight class and giving up a significant size advantage to Dillashaw. Dillashaw’s a natural bantamweight whereas Dodson is fighting up a weight class, a world ranked flyweight some have in the Top five in that division. Dodson moved up a weight for the UFC and will most likely be one of the early contenders for the upcoming UFC flyweight division. But right now he has to get through a member of Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male and that’s no easy proposition.
Dillashaw fights like the signature style of Team Alpha Male traditionally do; wrestlers who use their striking to set up takedowns. Dillashaw is no different and has a substantial pedigree as a wrestler. His game plan is going to be fairly simple: use his boxing to initiate the clinch or to set up a shot. If he can get his hands on Dodson he can get him to the ground and that’s his calling card. Dillashaw has a strong ground game, more effective with striking but has enough submission skills to be dangerous.
The problem is going to be getting his hands on Dodson. Dodson’t a smaller fighter to begin with, giving up reach and height advantages alongside the size element, but he makes up for it with remarkable quickness and athletic ability. He won’t be doing a hard weight cut, either, so he should have a decided stamina edge against Dillashaw as well. And that’s where his ability to win the fight is going to come from: his ability to outlast and out move his opponent.
Dodson’s key to victory is to keep this fight standing and make Dillashaw waste gas in his tank going after takedowns by pressing the pace. If Dodson can make this a kickboxing match and make Dillashaw gas out trying to bring him down, and making him eat a wide variety of strikes, he can win and potentially stop him. He has a strong ground game but not nearly as strong as Dillashaw’s.
Tags: John Dodson, Mixed Martial Arts, T.J Dillashaw, The Ultimate Fighter, TUF 14