“That could have been me,” John Dodson reflects on Henry Cejudo winning the flyweight title after he left the UFC

By Andrew Whitelaw - December 28, 2022

John Dodson is on a mission to prove he’s still one of the best in the world in his weight class.

The TUF 14 winner will return to action at Rizin 40 to help launch the promotion’s flyweight division when he takes on Hideo Tokoro. The New Year’s Eve bout will be a homecoming of sorts for ‘Magic,’ who first fought in Japan back in 2004.

The 38-year-old competed twice for the flyweight belt when he fought in the UFC but left the promotion in 2020. Now, in the twilight of his career, the veteran is keen to prove that he’s still got it.

“Looking back on my fight career, I’m one of the best flyweights in the world,” Dodson said in an interview on Rizin’s YouTube channel.

John Dodson

Image Credit: UFC.com

“Henry Cejudo sealed the 125lbs title after I vacated the division, and that could have been me. I’m seeing myself still being in the top three and being the best flyweight in the entire world. So I’m going to go out there and show the rest of the world that I still can do it,” added Dodson.

Dodson won TUF 14 in 2011 when he knocked out TJ Dillashaw in the first round. The victory was arguably the best of his career, as Dillashaw went on to win the UFC bantamweight title and became a big star.

“Knocking out TJ Dillashaw was a phenomenal thing because I got to go ahead and introduce the world to the brutal capabilities that I have and (my) unique personality,” said Dodson. “Then also the first one with Demetrious Johnson, I went toe-to-toe with the world’s greatest fighter and I looked pretty much equal to him,” he added.

Dodson needed just 40 seconds to knock out Ryan Benoit at BKFC 28. His last MMA fight also turned out in his favor, having walked away with the unanimous decision at XMMA 4 in April.

The New Mexico-native has stiff competition in Rizin’s flyweight ranks. As well as his bout with Tokoro, the promotion will collaborate with Bellator to showcase a blockbuster between multiple-time world champion Kyoji Horiguchi and fellow TUF and fellow UFC veteran Hiromasa Ougikubo.

Dodson came close to UFC gold, but never got over the line. Now, as he returns to ‘The Land of the Rising Sun’ to compete for the first time in almost two decades, his goal is clear.

“I want to be the champion.”

Do you think Dodson will win a belt in Rizin?


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