Dodson: ‘My talent is being awesome and amazing’

It must be difficult to remain awesome and amazing when you can’t walk without the aid of crutches, when you are sentenced to weeks on a couch playing video games, when the only way you know things are getting better is if you are able to completely push down the clutch in your car.

And yet, I’m guessing John Dodson found a way.

“We already know how I’m going to look in my return,” he said. “I’m going to knock somebody out and do a flip off the cage.

“My talent is being awesome and amazing.”

This guy must really play well on Twitter.

I like him. He’s a character, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship can’t have enough of those. He’s outlandish enough to suggest there isn’t a better fighter in the world and actually believe it.

There are many better fighters, but let’s hope Dodson continues to assign himself such an elevated status. He’s a lot more interesting than talks of drug tests and Reebok deals.

He was discovered while working as a party host at Chuck E. Cheese’s — I wanted more than anything for him to have worn the mouse costume that day — and competed on the television series “American Ninja Warrior.”

He stands 5 feet 3 inches and swears he could once dunk a basketball, but I’m wondering if he is referring to those miniature ones back in the day between serving pizza and slicing a child’s birthday cake.

Dodson returns to the octagon tonight, facing Zach Makovsky on the UFC 187 preliminary card at the MGM Grand Garden, the first time Dodson will fight since departing a victory against John Moraga with a blown-out left knee last June.

Dodson underwent surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus, a brutal injury for someone whose greatest strength is, well, some pretty awesome and amazing jump and leg kicks.

Dodson, 30, is ranked second among flyweights and his will be the featured fight on FOX Sports 1, which is meant to entice those watching to then purchase the pay-per-view main card.

Which means the UFC hopes Dodson, winner of “The Ultimate Fighter 14,” is healthy and kicking and flipping like nobody’s business.

He has often stated the goal of becoming a champion in three weight classes, of eventually wearing a belt at 125, 135 and 145 pounds. He walks around at 160 and doesn’t seem all that fazed by such a pursuit.

But while he talks about those opponents he could challenge at higher weights, Dodson unquestionably is motivated at first claiming the flyweight title and being the one to solve the incredibly consistent puzzle that is champion Demetrious Johnson.

The two fought in January of 2013 and Johnson, who has successfully defended his championship six times, won via a five-round unanimous decision.

It’s still a result that gnaws at the ninja warrior/party host/one-time dunker.

“If I hadn’t given that man so much respect in the first few rounds, I would be the champion right now,” Dodson said. “I had to get over being a fan of his. I was in awe of his recovery time, of his presence, of the man who was standing in front of me.

“The hype got to me. I got lost in it and didn’t fight my own fight. That won’t happen again. There were a lot of things I should have done better. From now on, I’m always going to be the hungriest dog fighting for the last bone of my life.”

He sure does bark a lot.

Dodson believes the flyweight champion should own more charisma than Johnson offers, that for fans to take the weight class of small but mighty men seriously, personality is nearly as critical as talent.

He had planned on studying engineering and computer science at the University of New Mexico, but then a trainer from Greg Jackson’s gym in Albuquerque suggested to Dodson at one of those Chuck E. Cheese birthday parties in 2002 that someone who had excelled at football and wrestling and track in high school shouldn’t yet walk away from his athletic dreams. Dodson was soon flying around a mat that also is home to suspended light heavyweight Jon Jones.

The plan could be seriously derailed if Dodson loses to Makovsky, a friend he has trained with for six years. Dodson wants his rematch against Johnson, but it’s not certain that would be his next fight should he be successful tonight.

This is: It won’t be following a defeat.

“I want to fight the best people in the world and not those at the bottom of the barrel,” Dodson said. “(UFC president) Dana White loves me. Everyone at the UFC seems to love me. They need me. I’m a monster when I walk into a fight.”

I sure wanted to learn he was discovered playing the mouse at Chuck E. Cheese’s.

Now that would have been awesome and amazing.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be a heard on, “Seat and Ed,” on KRLV 1340 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.

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