Fighting an up-and-coming prospect can be dangerous for a veteran fighter. But for John Dodson, taking on a rising fighter is an opportunity to redirect the hype in his direction. In comes a showdown No. 15 ranked Petr Yan on the UFC’s first ever card in Czech Republic.
Since joining the UFC less than a year ago, Yan is 3-0 with two TKO finishes. He has looked dominant in his wins over Douglas Silva de Andrade, Jin Soo Son and Teruto Ishihara.
The showdown between Dodson and Yan should be interesting on multiple levels, considering the two bantamweights have completely different styles and personalities. Yan is reserved and soft-spoken while, Dodson might be the most energetic fighter on the UFC roster.
And he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“The only way that I can go ahead and survive in this sport is by being myself,” Dodson said. “If I keep on listening to everybody who’s sitting there having all their little chatter here and there, it ruins it for me. If I start letting all the pressure and the anxiety of what everybody wants me to be, then I can’t be that anymore. I have to be the person that got me here and that was me. Happy go-lucky and just a silly little kid.”
John Dodson is going to John Dodson.
We caught up with Dodson to discuss the gorgeous city of Prague, what he thinks about his opponent, where he thinks he has the advantage in the fight and plenty more.
UFC: What’s it like for you to be here in Prague fighting on the UFC’s first ever card in Czech Republic?
JD: Well I get to be a part of history, if it’s the first one in this country then I have to do something great. What a better way to do it than beating Petr.
UFC: What do you think of the city so far?
JD: It’s very beautiful. I’m not used to the whole stone and cobblestone walkways, it’s different and new for me. The architecture is beautiful. I keep looking at these massive buildings and the artwork of it is so unique it’s makes me jealous.
UFC: There’s a lot of hype behind Yan, how do you use that to remind people that your still one of the best fighters in this division?
JD: I’m gonna go steal his hype and just bring it into myself. They want to sit there and build this dude up and try to build a name off of my name, let’s go ahead and do it. I can piggyback on that too. Like he wants to build his name on me and I can just put my name back on top of his.
UFC: What are some things that you think Yan does well? Where do you think you have the advantages in the fight?
JD: Well he’s a tremendous boxer, his boxing is excellent. Now when it comes to MMA striking, not so well. He doesn’t know how those tight angles are and not only that, the distance of what we’re gonna have to do is going to be way further. He’s going to have to be able fight me at longer range than those close quarters. We see how well he is when he wants to stay in boxing range and how well he can pick people apart but once he gets into those longer exchanges he has more difficulty with that. And let’s see how well he can spring back and forth with my explosive little butt.
UFC: Do you think that you’re a different level of fighter than he has faced so far?
JD: Well yes there is levels to this game and I’m definitely going to be the one that he’s gonna have to be prepared for.
On Saturday, make sure you tune into ESPN+ at 2pm/11am ETPT to watch the UFC Prague main card. The UFC Prague prelims start at 11am/8am ETPT on ESPN 2.
Gavin Porter is a digital producer and writer for UFC.com, follow him on Twitter at @PorterUFCNews.