By John Fullilove, jacksons.tv
jacksons.tv: Where are you from?
John Dodson: I was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
jacksons.tv: Growing up, did you participate in sports?
John Dodson: Growing up I did all kinds of sports. I did track, basketball, anything athletic I tried. I like to try anything I saw on TV. I tried gymnastics, copying cartoon characters and characters from Asian movies.
jacksons.tv: Didn’t you also wrestle?
John Dodson: I did wrestle. I wrestled all through high school. I was a two-time state champion, one time state runner-up and four time district champion.
jacksons.tv: How did you get started in MMA?
John Dodson: To tell you the truth I knew very little about MMA. I did see some while I was growing up. Bas Rutten was one of my favorite fighters as well as Duane Ludwig. What got me into it was actually coming into the gym the first time. Chris Luttrell found me at Chuck E. Cheese and brought me into the sport. The coaches knew me from my wrestling background and wanted to see what I could do in this sport. I came in the first day and did a couple of my moves. Some guy shot in for a double leg and I did a front flip over him. They fell in love with me and I fell in love with the sport.
jacksons.tv: So, did you have to dress up like Chuck E. Cheese?
John Dodson: Of course. I had to do everything. At the time I was the birthday coordinator, running the kitchen and ended up being the manager. To all the little kids reading this – I’m breaking your hearts but I was Chuck E Cheese.
jacksons.tv: So when did you start?
John Dodson: 2002 is when I started doing Mixed Martial Arts.
jacksons.tv: Was your intent to become a professional MMA fighter from the very beginning?
John Dodson: From the beginning I had the intent on becoming a Mixed Martial Artist. Coach Greg was saying he needed a 125er and I was like, “Hell yes, I’ll be your 125 pounder!” What happened was I went to do a Grappler’s Quest and I won that as a beginner. Four months later I did another submission tournament and round up wining that at the intermediate level. I smoked everyone in that tournament. I had my first fight within six months.
jacksons.tv: How would you describe your submission tournament style?
John Dodson: It’s entertainment. I just like to go out there and have fun. I’m doing flips over people. I’m going up and spinning every which way. It’s more athletic and acrobatic. Technique is there but I make sure I do stuff that nobody has ever seen before.
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John Dodson: For my boxing and kickboxing I work with Mr. Winkeljohn. I used to go Mr. Winkeljohn’s back in the day. He would primarily help me with my boxing and not any kicks because I would always leave my hands down when I kicked. So, we worked from the top down.
jacksons.tv: What were your first amateur fights like?
John Dodson: I did it just like wrestling. I did it like head strong. I threwn everything I had in the first two minutes and then I realized I needed to take a breath and go again.
jacksons.tv: Were you nervous in those first fights or were you just out there having fun?
John Dodson: For me it was just having fun. I don’t really pay attention to the entire crowd. I go out there and focus on who I have to fight. I try to do what I want to do not what everyone else wants to see.
jacksons.tv: How many amateur fights did you have before you turned pro?
John Dodson: I had only two amateur fights before going pro and fighting the top guy at 125 in Japan. I knocked him down in the first round and they gave him a standing 8 count and somehow I lost by unanimous decision.
jacksons.tv: Which organization was that?
John Dodson: It was GMC. It was a co-promotion with Shooto. Shooto is one of the oldest MMA promotions out there.
jacksons.tv: What was that experience like going to Japan?
John Dodson: It was amazing. I liked the crowd and the people. Most people were really nice. They wanted to know who I was and what I was doing out there. They wanted to try out their English. They wanted to see how well they could communicate with me. So that was actually really cool.
jacksons.tv: How many fights did you have before you were on the Tapout Reality show?
John Dodson: I had 7. I was 5-2 at the time.
jacksons.tv: What was that like being on that show?
John Dodson: It was fun for me. I was hanging out with people who were just as crazy as I am. Mask, Scrape and Punkass, we all just joked around the majority of the time. The only thing that was weird was having cameras. Every time I said something they wanted to be there so to me it was kind of awkward.
jacksons.tv: The fight you had on the show was great. You just tossed that guy and he landed on his head. What exactly did you do?
John Dodson: He was trying to go for a guillotine and I just rotated his body the way he was jumping and so I just let go of him in the air. After he came through I slipped my head out and tossed him to the side.
jacksons.tv: Did you get a lot of publicity from that show?
John Dodson: Yeah, people keep coming up to me till this day. Jaime Yeager was the one who came up to me most recently and said, “ Man, I started fighting because of you, you’re my little hero!” I said, “Little?” And he said, “Well, look at you. You look like me but your half my size!”
jacksons.tv: You’ve been fighting for the UWC (Ultimate Warrior Challenge)?
John Dodson: I’ve been fighting for UWC because they are the only ones who have a 125 division. Right now that division is growing in the United States. The top guys are across the ocean and are always challenging us. I want to prove to them that the 125 pound division is no longer being dominated by the Japanese fighters and that Americans can actually compete with them. That is why I want to go back out there. I would like to fight the guy who I had my first lost to, Ishitani. I would really like to put him through hell. I’m more prepared now because I have better standup. Back then I was only going for a takedown and ground and pound. Now I know what I need to do on the stand up game. I can be more of an accurate striker and put on a great show. If they want to see a technical kickboxing match, I can do that. If they want to see technical MMA, I can do that. I can put on an amazing jiu-jitsu performance if they want to see that as well.
jacksons.tv: Can fans watch you in the UWC?
John Dodson: Yes they can. My fights are on pay-per-view internet at UWCMMA.COM. I have four more fights with them. I fight for them because they keep bringing me tough opponents all the time. My last opponent, Jesse “The Mountain Man” Riggleman, had just previously beat two WEC prospects.
jacksons.tv: When is your next fight for the UWC?
John Dodson: Right now all I really know is that I might be fighting in India in September. We are trying to figure out the exact date.
jacksons.tv: What do you think about having the opportunity to travel to India?
John Dodson: I’m not eating any of the food because I’m on a strict diet. I’m very excited about going. Going to a new country is always an exciting experience. I get so excited. Anytime I go to a new place, I like taking a couple of hours and run around like a little kid.
jacksons.tv: What does your family think of you fighting?
John Dodson: My family likes it. My little cousins, look down on me – literally. They are all six foot monsters but all of my family supports me. They see I’m doing something constructive with my time. I’m doing something positive with my life and doing something that I enjoy. They can brag to all their friends about me. Have you seen my nephew? Have you seen my brother? They always talk about me and people think I’m some six foot monster. I keep saying six foot but for me that’s pretty tall.
jacksons.tv: What else do you do besides MMA?
John Dodson: From October to mid-November, I’m going to be on Elite X Men on Spike TV--go out there and do a bunch of stunts and have fun. During my spare time I like having fun. My little brother and I go rock climbing. I go dancing at clubs all the time.
jacksons.tv: What advice do you have for individuals who want to get involved in MMA?
John Dodson: Honestly, find the style that you like and grow. Try to build on what you like to do. No matter what the variation or type of martial arts, you have to mold it into what works for you. Everyone says they want to learn from this person or that person. You can learn from millions of people out there and take little ideas out there and mold them into your perspective. Be creative: it’s a martial art. Listen to that part – Art, so be an artist.
jacksons.tv: Who would you like to acknowledge?
John Dodson: I would like to thank my mom, my little brother, Eric, who has always been there for me. My whole family has always been there. I would like to thank Tapout, Full Tilt, Heavy Hands and UWC for giving me a home at 125. I would like to thank Coach Jackson and Coach Winkeljohn for everything they do for me. I would like to thank Melvin Guillard, who busted me up and showed me how fast I really need to be. Leonard, Cowboy, Damacio, Nick Urso, just everybody; Tom Kong and Goyo, Intern Marc. Other than that, I just want to thank all the fans out there. Without the fans I wouldn’t have a reason to fight, so thank you.