UFC Rio Rancho: Underrated and Overlooked

This weekend Corey Anderson (13-4) and Jan Blachowicz (25-8) have a showdown set in the light heavyweight division in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Anderson has amassed a nice four fight win streak since coming up short against Ovince St. Preux just under two years ago, while Jan is 6-1 in his last 7, only losing to Thiago Santos in a title eliminator match up last year.  Both men are looking to get a shot at the title. These two fighters possess great skill sets and it poses an extremely interesting match up.

In the co-main event, the legendary Diego Sanchez (29-12) takes on the Capoeira based style of spinning kick wizard Michel Pereira (23-10), in what can only be a savage contest between two crazy opponents.

While the main and co-main are match ups to get you excited. As usual, I want to look further down the card and see what tickles my taste buds. In fact, this card in my opinion is STACKED. The casual fan may not be watching, but we have the likes of Tim Means, Lando Vannata, Yancy Medeiros, Jim Miller, Ray Borg and Casey Kenny dispersed all over the card.

However, there is one particular fight I believe is being overlooked. 15 fight UFC veteran and former title challenger John “The Magician” Dodson (20-11) takes on rising English star Nathaniel Wood (16-3) in the 135-pound division. Dodson is currently ranked 13th while Wood is unranked and looking to climb the ladder as quickly as possible.

After Dodson lost to pound for pound great Demetrious Johnson for the Flyweight Title in 2015 for the second time, he decided to switch things up and returned to the Bantamweight division. Since then he has had more than mixed fortunes. He has a record of 3-4 since his return. What can be said though, is that Dodson has only lost to the top of the division with losses to John Lineker, Marlon Moraes, Jimmie Rivera and Petr Yan. However, at 35 and with two losses on the bounce, it seems Dodson’s days in the fight game may be numbered.

That’s where Nathaniel Wood steps in. In contrast to his foe, he is only 26 years old and riding an 8 fight win streak, including three wins inside the Octagon. All three wins have come by way of submission. “The Prospect” seems to be the most fitting name in the UFC right now and he will be looking to add Dodson to his list of victims this coming weekend.

Dodson is diminutive at 5’3″ but he is quick, agile and has great footwork, as well as unpredictable style. He will look to get in and out of his opponents range, using a quick jab and combinations before getting out. Wood is certainly no slouch on the feet either, and while he may have finished his first three UFC opponents with submissions, 9 of his 16 wins have come by way of TKO or KO.

Wood also has solid takedown defence and I expect to see this fight stay mostly on the feet as Dodson probably has even better takedown ammunition than Wood. Expect Wood to try and use his 3 inch reach advantage and height advantage to stay at range and pick off his opponent. It won’t be an easy task. Dodson at 35 still hasn’t been finished in his career, even with 11 losses to his name.

I expect to see Wood step up his game here and become ranked in an already stacked bantamweight division. I don’t expect him to finish Dodson, but I do expect it to be definitive. The sky is the limit for the young Englishman and this fight might just prove he belongs in there with the elite.


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