Is it the fighter? Is it the division? Or is it just the promotion in general? One way or another, John Dodson is having trouble getting fights. The UFC bantamweight is coming off a technical (if somewhat lackluster) decision win over Eddie Wineland at UFC Nashville last weekend, and from the sound of things, the first thought on his mind is how to get back in the cage as quickly as possible.
Over the course of his 5+ years with the world’s largest MMA promotion, Dodson has never fought more than twice in any calendar year. But, to hear him tell it, that’s not for lack of trying. Dodson told the assembled media after his latest win, that he’s been a constant voice in Sean Shelby’s ear, trying to get fights (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“When I put people to sleep, no one wants to fight me,” Dodson said after the bout. “When I fight intelligently, no one still wants to fight me. I don’t know what they want me to do. If fighters want to sit there and see that they have a fair chance, just step into the octagon, that’s the fair chance right there. Once we sign on the dotted line, that’s the opportunity for you to train for me and know that you have to be ready. That’s all I want, people to say yes. I’ve been trying to fight every single month and everybody still says no. . .”
“I’ve been telling Sean [Shelby], ‘Sean, why won’t you let me fight anybody?’ and he’s like, ‘No.’ I even tried fighting Tony Ferguson when Khabib didn’t make weight. I was like, ‘I’m flying in Dana. I’m weighing 156. I’ll make weight right now.’ Granted, I got called an idiot, but I was willing to take the fight. Somebody had to say yes. If people in my higher weight class are still gonna tell me no, I guess I’m just a terrorizer in every weight class. I am that nightmare that they’re just gonna be piling up on people.”
Dodson specifically called out Aljamain Sterling, who he says he’s tried to get booked for a fight with him three times, and Raphael Assuncao as well. Eventually however, it sounds like he’s got a strong theory as to why he’s not getting the bouts he wants.
“No one wants to take a fight with somebody that’s mentally insane. I am the most happiest killer that we have on this roster. I don’t go out there telling everybody I’ll be their Nightmare, their Dream, or a Lionheart. I just go out there and do it with a smile because I am the Agent of Chaos and I will ruin everybody’s order.”
Even if Dodson’s claims about getting turned down for bouts doesn’t necessarily paint a complete picture, the UFC’s woes in keeping it’s bantamweight division moving are long standing. Back when Dominick Cruz, Raphael Assuncao, and Michael McDonald were all getting hit with extended injury layoffs, some stagnation around the top 15 was to be expected. But, now with 11 of the divisions top fighters un-booked (and 8 of those fighters coming off wins) there are few good excuses to keep Dodson from getting the quick turnaround he wants.