The Ultimate Fighting Championship will return to the United Center in Chicago this Saturday night for UFC on Fox 6. The main event will feature flyweight champion Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson defending his strap for the first time against No. 1 contender John Dodson.
As of late Thursday afternoon, most books were listing Johnson (16-2-1 MMA, 4-1-1 UFC) as a minus-220 favorite with Dodson available for a plus-180 return (risk $100 to win $180). Oddsmakers are expecting to see this battle go the five-round distance, evidenced by the minus-290 price. For bettors thinking either fighter will get a submission or knockout, a plus-230 payout is available.
Johnson became the UFC’s first champ in the 125-pound division with a split-decision victory over Joseph Benavidez at UFC 152 in Toronto. Johnson hooked up his gambling supporters with a sweet payout in the plus-220 range.
Johnson’s first three Octagon appearances came in the bantamweight division, where he earned a title shot thanks to wins over Norifumi Yamamoto and Miguel Torres. But at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. on Oct. 1 of 2011, Dominick Cruz defeated Johnson by unanimous decision (50-45 twice, 49-46).
When the flyweight division was created with a four-man tournament to determine the inaugural champ, Johnson dropped down and faced Ian McCall last March. The two fought to a majority draw to prompt an immediate rematch, one that Johnson would win by unanimous decision.
Dodson (14-5 MMA, 3-0 UFC) has won five consecutive fights, including a second-round KO of Jussier Formiga in a title-eliminator match in Minneapolis last October.
For those bullish on Dodson who are hungry for a more generous payout, he can be had to win inside the distance (+365) or by decision (+485).
In the co-main event, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson (32-10 MMA, 7-4 UFC) will take on Glover Teixeira in a light-heavyweight showdown. Most spots are listing Teixeira (19-2 MMA, 2-0 UFC) as a minus-325 ‘chalk’ with Jackson tagged as a plus-250 underdog (risk $100 to win $250).
Jackson, the former champ in the 205-pound loop, hasn’t been the same since taking the role of B.A. Baracus in the movie, The A-Team, back in 2010. Since then, he has lost three of five fights, including his last two against Ryan Bader and Jon Jones.
This is the final fight of Jackson’s UFC contract and will be his last – at least for now – appearance in the Octagon. I’ve always liked Rampage but even his most ardent fans have to be growing tired of all the pissin’ and moanin’ he’s been doing over the last year and change.
In recent weeks, Jackson has bitched about the UFC’s matchmaking, complaining that he’s been given fights against wrestlers who won’t engage with him in stand-up exchanges. He has also complained about not being able to wear Reebok images into the cage on Saturday.
The shoe company just inked Jackson to a lucrative marketing deal, but Reebok is not a UFC-approved sponsor. This development has only added to Jackson’s frustrations with the promotion.
However, you could also make the argument against every one of Jackson’s gripes. For instance, this is mixed martial arts, not boxing, so Jackson should’ve been better prepared to defend Ryan Bader’s takedowns in his last loss at UFC 144 in Japan. Jackson missed weight badly and blamed a knee injury for the loss and the problems with cutting weight, claiming he didn’t want to pull out and disappoint his Japanese fans dating back to his glory days with the Pride organization.
As for being ‘treated fairly and with respect,’ one could argue that Rampage was fortunate the UFC had his back following his arrest (felon hit and run, felony reckless driving) for his bizarre behavior after losing his belt to Forrest Griffin at UFC 86.
One could also point out that Rampage was lucky to get the title shot against Jones, who defeated him by rear-naked choke in the fourth round. Unlike against Bader, Jackson came into the Jones fight in great shape and was oozing confidence prior to facing the young superstar.
But Jackson’s repertoire has become too one-dimensional. He doesn’t mix it up enough and Jones was too smart to get into a slugfest. Using his length and vast array of kicks, Jones was never threatened by Jackson. (To be fair, though, NOBODY has competed with Jones, but the point is that Jackson wasn’t deserving of the title shot following a controversial win over Lyoto Machida and a ho-hum victory over Matt Hamill.)
So how will Jackson’s six-year run in the UFC end? Badly, it says here, unless Teixeira is willing to stand and bang with Rampage in the center of the Octagon. In that scenario, Rampage has (and will always have) more than a puncher’s chance with his devastating one-punch KO power.
Teixeira (19-2 MMA, 2-0 UFC) might have the moxy to give Rampage that opportunity. If so, this could be the Fight of the Night. The Brazilian is a rising star with similar punching power but a better all-around MMA game.
Teixeira was ready to make his mark with the organization years ago, but visa issues kept him out of the United State for three years. With those problems now worked out, Teixeira is back working with his mentor, former light heavyweight champ Chuck ‘The Iceman’ Liddell, in Southern California.
In his first fight since coming back to the US, Teixeira made quick work of Kyle Kingsbury, finishing him with a arm-triangle choke just 1:53 into the opening stanza. Next at UFC 153, Teixeira pounded on Fabio Maldonado before the doctor called the bout at the end of the second round.
Another prime candidate for Fight of the Night honors will be the 155-pound showdown between Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis and Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. Most books are listing Pettis (15-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) as the short favorite at -125 or -130.
Pettis is the last man to beat current lightweight champ Benson Henderson, but his tenure in the UFC has been frustrating to date. ‘Showtime’ has been bothered by injuries and has yet to get the title shot he felt he deserved when he came to the organization as the World Extreme Cagefighting champ.
A win over Cerrone will make it a near certainty that Pettis will get the next shot at Henderson. However, ‘Cowboy’ is thinking the same thing.
Pettis lost a unanimous-decision to Clay Guida in his Octagon debut. In bounce-back mode, he wasn’t overly impressive in a decision win over Jeremy Stephens. But in his last outing, ‘Showtime’ was back in the form of a head kick that put Joe Lauzon to sleep early at UFC 144.
A fight with Cerrone has been on the horizon since then, but shoulder woes have kept Pettis on the sidelines.
On the other hand, Cerrone (19-4-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) has been keeping extremely busy. He is coming off a thrilling first-round KO of Melvin Guillard at UFC 150 in Denver. Guillard had Cerrone badly hurt with multiple strikes and a flying knee in the first minute. However, Cerrone somehow found his senses and landed a desperation head kick that stunned Guillard.
With his opponent wobbly, Cerrone rushed in and landed a huge right to finish ‘The Young Assassin.’ The victory garnered KO and Fight of the Night honors.
Cerrone’s only loss in the Octagon came by unanimous decision against Nate Diaz, who overcame Cerrone’s leg kicks with high-volume punching that left ‘Cowboy’s face bloody and swollen. But that’s Cerrone’s only blemish as he’s collected win over Stephens and Dennis Siver, among others.
The opening fight on the FOX telecast is a featherweight match between Ricardo Lamas and Erik Koch. Most spots have Koch as a minus-155 favorite.
On the preliminary FX card, Bader will take on veteran Vladimir Matyushenko as an enormous minus-500 ‘chalk.’ ‘The Janitor’ is plus-350 on the comeback.