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Ranking the ‘UFC on FOX: Johnson vs. Dodson’ Fights by My Own Interest Level

(“Thanks Jay. Joining me now backstage is none other than…uh…wait a minute. You’re Anderson Silva’s son, right?”)

If you’ve been watching the NFL playoffs on FOX over the last couple weekends, you’ve surely noticed the frequent UFC promos throughout the broadcasts hyping a “World Title Fight” on January 26th between “Johnson and Dodson.” At no point is the word “flyweight” ever mentioned — because that would be a turnoff to casual fans, I guess? — and in most of the live promos I’ve seen, Demetrious Johnson and John Dodson‘s first names aren’t even included. Basically, they’re hoping that the mere promise of a “title fight” will be enough to lure some football fans into tuning in this Saturday night, even if those viewers have no idea who the headliners are, or what belt they’ll be fighting for specifically.

By sticking to the ironclad rule that a title fight will always get headlining-priority no matter who else is fighting on the card — a policy that previously drew some fan-criticism when Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche was given the UFC 157 main event spot over Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida — the UFC has painted themselves into a corner. Johnson and Dodson simply aren’t as well-known, marketable, or admired as some of the other fighters competing at UFC on FOX 6, namely Quinton Jackson, Donald Cerrone, and Anthony Pettis.

It’s a problem, because TV ratings and buyrates are so closely tied to who’s headlining each event. Instead of perhaps making Rampage vs. Teixeira or Cerrone vs. Pettis the headliner, the UFC is choosing to keep things vague (“world title fight!” “Johnson!”) and hope for the best. We’ll see if that proves to be the right decision, or if the ratings will plunge compared to the strong showing of UFC on FOX 5. I know the UFC wants to pump up its budding flyweight division, but I can’t help wondering if they’re doing themselves a disservice when there’s so little heat around that weight class. Could they re-consider their “championship fight always gets the main event” policy down the road?

Since I’ve been thinking about this lately, I’ve decided to present my own rundown of which fights I’m actually looking forward to this weekend. If you see things differently, please hurl some abuse at me in the comments section. Let’s begin…

#1: Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis (LW, main card): It’s the rare combination of “guaranteed banger” and “legitimately important.” Two elite-level lightweights who are known for consistently thrilling fights face off to determine who’s possibly next in line on the contender ladder after Gilbert Melendez. As far as I’m concerned, this is Saturday’s real main event.

#2: Quinton Jackson vs. Glover Teixeira (LHW, main card): I’m not as drunk on the Glover kool-aid as some of you — at least not yet — but man, oh man, do I want Rampage to get creamed. I’m tired of the constant bullshit, and I just want this story to end — particularly with a savage KO that defies any post-fight excuse-making.

#3: Erik Koch vs. Ricardo Lamas (FW, main card): I’m a big fan of Erik Koch, and it’s great to see him back after a 16-month layoff, trying to regain his place in the featherweight title picture. It’s also been interesting to see how Lamas has progressed from WEC mid-packer to undefeated UFC contender over the last couple years. My expectations are high for this one.

#4: Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson (FlyW, main event): As we learned in our first Databomb, finishing rates are strongly correlated to weight class — which should help explain why Demetrious Johnson hasn’t finished an opponent since 2010. And even though Dodson’s last flyweight match ended in a TKO against Jussier Formiga, everything that led up to that TKO was kind of awful. My relative lack of enthusiasm for this fight comes from the feeling that I already know how it will end: With Johnson earning a unanimous decision after five rounds that are so frantically-paced that the action becomes an undistinguishable mess of motion. And that’s what the UFC’s flyweight division has lacked for me, so far — the element of surprise.

#5: Ryan Bader vs. Vladimir Matyushenko (LHW, FX prelims): Two wrestlers who are coming off losses, and will likely be throwing bombs at each other’s heads. The result might not have a big impact on the light-heavyweight division, but it’ll have a serious impact on the fighters’ careers.

#6: Clay Guida vs. Hatsu Hioki (FW, FX prelims): I don’t expect a repeat of Guida’s much-reviled performance against Gray Maynard, but then again, Hioki hasn’t exactly been lightning in a bottle during his time in the UFC. The idea of Guida at 145 pounds is compelling, and he’s usually fun to watch, but I’m not expecting a Fight of the Night here by any means.

#7: Mike Russow vs. Shawn Jordan (HW, FX prelims): Russow, a full-time Chicago police officer, returns to the Octagon in a hometown appearance seven months after being wrecked by Fabricio Werdum in Brazil. We all know what this man is capable of.

#8: Matt Wiman vs. TJ Grant (LW, FX prelims): Grant is on a three-fight win-streak at lightweight, and Wiman pulled off a very unexpected and impressive submission of Paul Sass in his last fight. Sure, I’ll watch this.

#9 (tie): Mike Stumpf vs. Pascal Krauss, Rafael Natal vs. Sean Spencer (WW+MW, FX prelims): I don’t think I’d be able to pick any of these guys out of a lineup. I know that Krauss is German, and that Sean Spencer is a first-timer — and that’s about the extent of my commitment to these fights.

#11: Simeon Thoresen vs. David Mitchell (WW, Facebook prelim): I honestly can’t remember the last time I watched a Facebook prelim. It’s been a while. That’s not going to change this weekend.


Cagepotato Comments

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crappiefloper- January 23, 2013 at 2:30 pm
God just the mention of lesner in a comments section pisses me off
Go cowboy. And I too hope that rampage is brutalized with a mop handle.
cripplerfan1988- January 22, 2013 at 10:32 pm
The fact that Wiman-Grant is so low on this list is criminal!
Mr_Misanthropy- January 22, 2013 at 8:22 pm
Somebody give that midget a pork chop! He's scaring me with his pleading eyes and sunken countenance... I'm worried he's going to bite A-reels finger thinking it's an egg roll or something.
coldbeer78- January 22, 2013 at 6:39 pm
The best part of this article was the part where BG admitted that he was a big fan of Koch.
FilmDrunk- January 22, 2013 at 5:18 pm
UFC is making a really bad business decision not having Rampage/Teixera headlining. People like us that read MMA blogs are going to watch regardless, but you make your money on those casual viewers, and Rampage is by far the biggest star on that card. Why wouldn't you lead with that? The fights with the biggest viewership are always the ones with crossover star - Lesnar, Kimbo, etc. - not necessarily the best fighters.
ReX13- January 22, 2013 at 5:47 pm
Yet another case of Dana cutting off his nose to spite his face, really.
Ricardo Guitardo- January 22, 2013 at 3:50 pm
Little kid fighting should be illegal in the usa. Jusy sayin is all...
painvelasquez- January 22, 2013 at 3:21 pm
Down with Rampage!!! let there be unconciousnezzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...
painvelasquez- January 22, 2013 at 3:19 pm
what a bunch of cynical ass warts we all have become huh!
painvelasquez- January 22, 2013 at 3:14 pm
WATTHAFUKK? Everybody complains about there not being enough free UFC material then they put up a fairly decent card and you people shit on it? well whatever im not missing it no matter what.. cerrone\pettis has FOTN written all over it. Hell id watch it even if cerrone and pettis werent on it.. johnson dodson should be a good one. SO FUK YALLZ im out..
Alan K- January 22, 2013 at 2:56 pm
Well they can only hope for so much when it's Joe Buck who is promoting the fight card.
SquidInk- January 22, 2013 at 2:47 pm
The author and commenters have already covered all my main thoughts on this:

1. The main event is going to be a boring decision with the two of them dancing around for five rounds.

2. This will be the lowest-ranked FOX card so far. Not good for the UFC.

3. Glover is going to knock the ever-loving shit out of 'Page and I will enjoy seeing it. Quinton's BS has worn thin with me, as well as everyone else.

The only exception to all my agreeing here is that I would have ranked the Wiman-Grant fight higher in terms of interest.
dipsetkilla316- January 22, 2013 at 2:19 pm
I love Dodson but DJ is gonna win by long boring uneventful Decision
BBBreakTime429- January 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm
not having the title fight as the main event wouldn't make sense and it would be disrespectful to said champion. I'm guessing this is why it's on Free TV so that way the Flyweight Division gets more attention without risking a paperview.... but on the other hand big events like Benson VS Diaz were free....and the next Benson Title fight is gonna be free on FOX as well....does Benson have something in his contract binding him to fighting on FOX ? wait what division were we talking about again ?
stak- January 22, 2013 at 1:48 pm
I called it the moment the fight was announced...the ratings are going to tank on this event and it will be the lowest rated ufc on fox yet.

It's also the first ufc in chicago that I'm not going to live. I'm not paying to watch dodson/johnson. no thanks.
Fried Taco- January 22, 2013 at 1:25 pm
And the early start time is exactly why I'm not going to see this live, and will DVR it instead. Those flyweights really move when you fast-forward!
Pen Fifteen- January 22, 2013 at 1:23 pm
I just hope Bruce Buffer begins his introduction of Dodson with "fighting out of the blue corner, representing the lollipop guild..."
HassiumWitte- January 22, 2013 at 1:10 pm
Me stupid, never mind.
HassiumWitte- January 22, 2013 at 1:09 pm
Where's number 10?