John Dodson learned a valuable lesson in losing a narrow decision to Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight champ Demetrious Johnson in January 2013.
It’s one Dodson thinks will help him for the rest of his career, yet he would just as soon never have gone through the experience.
Dodson hurt Johnson several times but failed to display his usual killer instinct and finish the champion. When the judges’ scores were announced, Dodson had lost out in his bid to win the title.
“It might have been good as learning a lesson and far as motivation and all of that,” Dodson said by phone Thursday. “But at the same time, I wish it didn’t happen. It’s tough for me to sit there and know I won the fight in my head. I had it in my hands and watched it slip away. I watched it disappear those times when I hurt him and didn’t jump on him and finish it.”
Dodson had no such issues in his next fight, scoring a first-round knockout over Darrell Montague in October.
“It wasn’t really a matter of taking out frustration,” Dodson said. “It was just making sure I could find that killer instinct again. That’s how I looked at it.”
After a knee injury sidelined Dodson for a few months, he will return to the cage today against John Moraga on a card in Dodson’s hometown of Albuquerque, N.M., that will air on Fox Sports 1 (Cable 329) at 5 p.m.
Dodson said he thinks a knockout or submission victory over Moraga, who also lost to Johnson last year, would get him another title shot.
“It would mean a lot,” Dodson said. “I still think I won the (Johnson) fight. I thought I won three rounds to two. I never knew you could win a round by getting popped and knocked down.
“I just have to make sure I step up my game. Next time, when I hit him and he falls, I just need to jump on him and get murderous with my hands and feet until I get that title belt around my waist.”
Dodson and Moraga have fought before, meeting on a card in the Dominican Republic before either was with the UFC. Dodson won a decision, but he says both are such different fighters that the result is irrelevant.
The venue also will be different, as the UFC will be hosting an event in Albuquerque for the first time. Dodson is thrilled to be fighting in the city where he grew up and still lives and trains.
“It’s great to have the fights in my hometown where I can just relax and chill and not have to worry about any of that other stuff. I know where everything is, and I’m comfortable,” he said. “Plus, I know that he has to fight me in my hometown, so he’s got to deal with trying to beat me in front of my friends and my family with everybody cheering for me.”
He hopes cheering is all the fans are doing.
“It’s going to be crazy,” Dodson said. “Everybody’s going to start fighting. Have you ever been here for fights? They all get rowdy. We’re fighters no matter where we go. I just hope they let us perform in the cage for them so they don’t get in trouble.”
The card is headlined by former lightweight champion Benson Henderson taking on Rustam Khabilov, who trains in Albuquerque.
Another Albuquerque native, Diego Sanchez, will fight Ross Pearson in a lightweight bout.
■ NOTE — Local amateur promotion Tuff-N-Uff will host a free event at 6 p.m. today at the Thomas &Mack Center.
There will be collection bins for canned goods to benefit Three Square Food Bank at the entrances to the event, which commemorates the organization’s 20th anniversary.
Five title fights are scheduled on the card.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at email@example.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.