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UFC Signee Dashon Johnson, Xplode Fight Series, and The Practice of Padding Records to Produce Talent

(Say what you will about Dashon’s qualifications, but there’s no denying that the dude packs an epic punch-face.)

Meet Dashon Johnson, a.k.a “Fly Boy” a.k.a the latest undefeated “prospect” to be signed by the UFC. A former professional boxer who amassed a by definition mediocre record of 15-15, Johnson has gone 9-0 as an MMA fighter and was recently booked to face TUF Nations washout Jake Matthews at Fight Night 43. I know, you’ve probably already marked this fight down on your calendars.

Without getting into a whole “Royston Wee” thing again, or beating the dead horse that is the firings/non-signings of guys like Jake Shields and Ben Askren, I will say with full confidence that Mr. Johnson has perhaps the most padded MMA record of a UFC fighter since Jason Reinhardt. Don’t believe me? Well thankfully, BloodyElbow’s Mookie Alexander and Pro MMANow’s Jack Bratcher have done a little investigating into the record of “Fly Boy,” and here’s what they found.

The combined record of Johnson’s opponents to date is 13-39, with 12 of those wins belonging to one fighter, Brady Harrison. Even worse, at the time Johnson faced each of the tomato cans his record has been padded with, these were their records (in chronological order):

Tommy Franklin (0-0)
Jordan Delano (0-4)
Kenneth Johnson (0-0)
Randall Adams (0-0)
Phelan Fleming (0-1)
Kenny Kilgore (1-3)
Brady Harrison (11-10)
Ray Carter (0-1)
Jordan Delano (0-10, rematch of first fight)

With the exception of two fighters, Johnson has finished all of his opponents via TKO or submission inside the first two minutes. It might shock you to learn that the only man to go the distance with Johnson was Harrison.

As noted by both Alexander and Bratcher, all of Johnson’s fights have taken place under the Xplode Fight Series banner. Xplode Fight Series, for those of you who might not be familiar, is a California-based pro-am organization who holds the majority of their cards on Indian reservations. They also happen to have a management company, and just so happen to house the facility that Johnson trains out of, Team Xplode MMA.

Unfortunately, it would appear that Johnson is not the only Xplode MMA fighter who has received, let’s call it favorable treatment, while fighting for Xplode. You see, Xplode Fight Series is less in the MMA business than they are the squash match business — one look over the fighters in their stable reveals more padded records than I care to count and more tomato cans than an Andy Warhol painting. Essentially, Xplode MMA/Fight Series is setting up their “premiere” fighters against nobodies in the hopes that they will be signed by the UFC for a regional level show, which their management company will then presumably profit from. It takes “conflict of interest” to an entirely different level.

Here are just a few examples of the promotion’s shady matchmaking practices in recent years, per Alexander’s report:

Titan FC bantamweight Walel Watson previously spent 4 fights in the UFC before he was cut in late 2012. Watson fought twice in XFS after his release, winning both bouts in a combined 99 seconds. The current combined records of the opponents he defeated? A dismal 0-23.

Bellator and Strikeforce veteran Keith Berry (15-13) defeated 0-0 Josh Gibson in 2012 in what was listed as a middleweight championship fight. Berry later triumphed over Edward Darby, who came into the fight at 0-3 and is now 0-15. Following this win, Berry was signed by Bellator, where he’s lost his last 3 and missed weight for 1 of his only 2 wins.

Light heavyweight Patrick Cummins TKO’d Ricky Pulu (0-3) on an XFS show last year and was picked at the last minute to fight Daniel Cormier in February at UFC 170.

Last but not least, UFC flyweight Danny Martinez (16-5) had two appearances in XFS back in 2012, winning by 1st round TKO against Nick Boyd and Rich Bonafidini, both of whom also were 0-0 at the time, and Martinez was even allowed to wear wrestling shoes. Martinez was later selected for TUF 18 and later signed on late notice for UFC 169 and is scheduled to fight again on June 7th against Scott Jorgensen.

And it gets worse. So, so much worse.

Edward Darby, the 0-15 fighter who was TKO’d by Keith Barry, fought ten times in 2013, (six under the Xplode banner) and dropped all of his fights by first round TKO or submission. How Darby was cleared to compete in fights as close as two weeks apart despite getting TKO’d is anybody’s guess, but it’s clear that Xplode is in neither the competitive MMA business nor the safety-concerned MMA business. As I spoke of regarding the disastrous amatuer MMA scene in NY yesterday, the fault for accepting these fights lies at least partially on the fighters themselves, but still, it’s goddamn disheartening to see a promotion so willing to forgo the basic safety concerns of the guys they are profiting off.

Does this mean that Johnson is destined to washout of the UFC almost immediately? I won’t say that much, as Royston Wee has already proved me wrong in that regard. But as Alexander notes, the UFC willingness to sign guys like Johnson (while simultaneously turning down guys like Askren) “is real telling about who they’re willing to bring on board just to be $8k/$8k fodder on Fight Pass.”

It always comes back to Fight Pass. God damn you, Fight Pass.

-J. Jones

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