UFC Fight Night 167: Dodson vs Wood
By Jack Maher
Despite its peculiar low placement on the UFC Rio Rancho card, John Dodson vs Nathaniel Wood is a great match-up, both stylistically and due to the significance a win would hold to both men.
Since moving up to bantamweight, Dodson has struggled to consistently replicate the success he had at flyweight, but two losses to then champion Demetrius Johnson, as well a struggle to make the weight, meant that it was in Dodson’s best career interests to make the move ten pounds north, the division he has called home since 2016.
Fighting in his home state of New Mexico, Dodson will look to recapture the form that seen him become one of the deadliest flyweights on the roster, picking up multiple finishes and giving the former flyweight king Johnson one of the toughest fights of his career in their first meeting.
Dodson’s decline has been noticeable, as a UFC flyweight he had a finish rate of 43%, yet since returning to bantamweight it stands at just 14%, going 3-4 at the higher weight, although it’s worth noting that he has been involved in some close decision losses that could’ve gone his way, most noticeably against Marlon Moraes and John Lineker. If ‘The Magician’ can refind his killer instinct, then perhaps he will conjur up his magic once more and return to winning ways.
In contrast to Dodson, his opponent on Saturday has enjoyed great success as a UFC bantamweight, going 3-0 with three finishes.
Wood is one of the hottest prospects to emerge from the UK in recent years, and it’s a shame the biggest fight of his career to date is taking place on the prelims of a fight night in New Mexico rather than on the UFC London main card where it would feel more significant.
The quickest way to turn heads in the UFC is to win fights in impressive style, and that is exactly what the Brad Pickett protégé has done so far, and the fact he has been given a ranked opponent in his fourth UFC outing is an indicator he is starting to turn heads. If Wood wins, it potentially opens him up to fights with the likes of Cody Garbrandt, Petr Yan, Moraes and the division’s other big players.
What makes this fight exciting is that both men are predominantly strikers who are at their best when chasing a finish; Dodson is extremely fast and is often first to the punch, while Wood carries solid power combined with accuracy.
This fight is expected to play out predominantly on the feet, but there is the possibility of this fight going to the ground, most likely through Wood, who has won his last three by submission.
An interesting detail to consider is that in his 31-fight MMA career, Dodson has never been finished, this becomes even more interesting when you consider that Wood has a 100% finish rate inside the UFC, and has finished his last eight opponents.
The best form of Dodson is a handful for any flyweight or bantamweight, whether he can still perform at the level he once did, especially against an opponent as hungry and dangerous as ‘The Prospect’ is another question, one we will find the answer to in Rio Rancho.