Fantasy Fights

Intelligent, unique MMA analysis

UFC Fight Night Albuquerque Prediction: John Dodson vs. John Moraga

From the standpoint of title contention, John Moraga was in the right place at the right time. As an entrant into the new UFC flyweight division, Moraga was put in a position where he only needed to win a couple of fights to earn a shot at Demetrious Johnson’s title. After pummeling Ulysses Gomez and choking out Chris Cariaso, Moraga earned himself that opportunity. His subsequent match against Johnson wasn’t particularly competitive but he at least established himself as one of the highly ranked fighters in the division.

The problem is that I don’t think Moraga’s actual level of performance can justify that ranking. The Gomez win was impressive enough but Moraga dropped the first two rounds against Cariaso and had to come back to win that fight. More recently, Moraga was apparently defeated by Dustin Ortiz… but then won the fight by dubious split decision. Moraga now has a UFC record of 3-1 with only a loss to Johnson, but that record could easily be 1-3 instead.

The point is that I think Moraga is being mis-cast as one of the top fighters in the division. The betting markets seem to agree as John Dodson is listed as a 5-1 favorite to beat Moraga at the moment. My FPR metric has Dodson as the third best fighter in the division and Moraga… as the 16th best. It seems inevitable that Moraga’s ranking will eventually sink towards the middle of the division.

Still, Moraga does have hope in this particular matchup. He and Dodson have one thing in common: they have both absorbed more significant strikes than they’ve landed overall. Now, Dodson lands strikes at a higher pace and hits a lot harder than Moraga, but the potential is there for Moraga to land more strikes than Dodson and win on points.

Unfortunately for Moraga, that’s the only realistic path to victory I can find for him. He’s landed just three takedowns in his four UFC fights, so he’s unlikely to beat Dodson that way. He’s landed just one knockdown (compared to six for Dodson) so chances aren’t very high he’ll win by knockout either.

I anticipate this fight will stay standing more often than not as Dodson doesn’t go for takedowns much himself, and why should he? With six knockdowns landed out of 205 significant strikes, Dodson has knockout power that a lot of heavyweights would love to have.

That pure power is what has elevated Dodson to his status as one of the top flyweights in the promotion. In a fight that figures to remain standing, I have to think it’s more likely than not that Dodson will win by knockout.

Pick: John Dodson by KO

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