This appears on philstar.com
Bouncing around with John Dodson
by rick olivares
If you say the word “Albuquerque,” Family Feud says the top five answers on the board include Bugs Bunny “”I knew I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque), actress Vivian Vance (who played Ethel Mertz in the popular sitcom from the 1950s “I Love Lucy”), the Rio Grande, the University of New Mexico (the school and its basketball and American Football teams), and…”
John Thomas Dodson III, the Filipino-American mixed martial arts fighter from Albuquerque, New Mexico stands five feet and three inches tall but he’s never going to get lost in a crowd with that megawatt smile of his and boundless energy. But that isn’t why he’s going to be on Family Feud. Dodson has been kicking butt and taking names in his MMA and Ultimate Fighting Championship career. He was the winner of the Ultimate Fighter: Team Bisping vs. Team Miller. He knocked out TJ Dillashaw and many of his fights have earned the honor of “Fight of the Night” or “Knockout of the Night.”
"Me? I hope to be one of the best MMA fighters ever. I chose a different path other than the people from Albuquerque who mostly travel the road to basketball or football stardom,” he shares of his life’s goal.
At 18-7 and following a sensational first round knockout of Manvel Gamburyan, Dodson is waiting for a shot either at the undefeated Dominick Cruz, Dillashaw, or his two-time conqueror Demetrious Johnson. “After that win over Manvel (in 37 seconds of the first round), I thought I’d get a shot at someone, anyone. If they need me to fight a few more guys to get a title shot (at the UFC Bantamweight title held by the 22-1 Cruz), I’ll do it. Just get me fighting."
Dodson, the pint-sized dynamo with a strong wrestling base and a sledgehammer for a left, arrived in Manila for a few days to promote the upcoming UFC event in Manila this coming October 15 as well as for Manila fight fans to get to know the fighter they call, “the Magician”.
Despite a hectic schedule and multiple interviews where he was oft asked the same questions (mostly about his Filipino roots) and the life of a UFC fighter, Dodson’s light and exuberant demeanour never changed no matter how long the hours, despite battling jetlag, and no matter how exhaustive the media junket was. “This is me,” he explains. “I’m like this all the time because you have to be thankful for what life has given you. Yeah, there are tough times and you feel down as well, but it’s important to bounce back and face the challenges. The sunny disposition helps you look at things from a different perspective; not necessarily a negative one. I’m just like this.”
And this is his first time in his life that he’s stepped foot on Philippine soil. In his last day in Manila, Sunday (June 26) he’ll do a few more interviews then he wants to see the city outside the malls before he heads for the airport for his flight back to the United States. “I want to see Manila. A mall isn’t a city or reflective of what the people are like or what a city truly is,” he says.
"I have always been in touched with my Filipino roots. My mother made sure of that. If I had questions about my heritage, she would always answer me. She raised me up to be a Filipino and an American. It’s not one but both. I had chills on my way here. I’m going around with my eyes open. I feel like a child in a toy store. I’m in the land of great fighters from Manny Pacquiao to Nonito Donaire to Mark Muñoz to Brandon Vera…”
And to the man they call “the Magician”.
“That’s actually crazy how that nickname came about,” Dodson explains. "There was this guy in the stands going crazy and saying, 'Oh, my God this is so crazy. How are you doing all this stuff in the cage? You’re just like a magician. You are a magician! We should call you that’ I said, ‘Okay, Imma google that and see if any fighter is nicknamed that.”
There isn’t unless you count cue artist supreme Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes…
“Another Filipino warrior,” exclaims Dodson. “Except he battle it out in billiards halls."
When Dodson fights, he’s a smiling assassin. He laughs at the description. “Yeah, a smiling assassin.”
He though refutes that he is a man without fear. “I have fear. I just embrace it. A man who knows fear means he won’t be reckless. And in MMA, a moment of recklessness can be your undoing."
“So I smile. I smile because I’m just so excited,” he adds. "Every moment I live is right there. Fighting is imprinted in our DNA. The chaos. The action. I live for it. I feel in love with MMA because I hate losing. MMA has taught me discipline and about bouncing back. Because that is what life is."
“Fighting in the UFC is like being in the Olympics of the sport. It’s the mecca for MMA. It’s the top. People might not know about MMA but they know the UFC,” he says of fighting in the world’s top MMA promotion. “I fight for my town, my heritage. I want to show people that even small people like me can achieve things. I want them to say, ‘Oh, he just knocked out a giant.’”
John Dodson hopes that his next fight opportunity will come at the hands of a giant in UFC MMA. His eyes light up again. The megawatt smile infectious.
“I think I deserve to get a top fight. I want to continue to show everyone what I can do.”
"Besides, it gives me an excuse to bounce around and do some backflips."