If “Thugs Need Hugs” were a slogan for an MMA fighter, “The Ultimate Fighter: Team Mayhem vs. Team Bisping” bantamweight finalist John Dodson would own that title. The 5-foot-3 bantamweight may smile constantly, but once that cage door closes he means business, even if he is smiling while punching your teeth down your throat. The happiest fighter ever seen on the reality series, Dodson earned the right to face T.J. Dillashaw in the “TUF” Finale on Saturday, Dec. 3 for a six-figure UFC contract. MTV Clutch caught up with the diminutive Dodson before he has the biggest fight of his career to discuss the reality series, his upcoming fight and if anything gets him upset.
Does anything piss you off?
Yes, mean people! I get mad but I always brush it off. I’ve always been told to do everything with a smile. Kill them with kindness.
It has to be intimidating to get beat up by a guy who smiles and asks for hugs.
I never really thought about it like that. I guess you’re right.
What’s it like living with a bunch of crazy guys for six weeks?
It’s like summer camp. You have the people you want to hang out with and I knew some of the guys already.
Some people saw you as a traitor for giving valuable information to Team Bisping.
People look at is as Team Bisping vs. Team Mayhem but the only team I was looking out for was my real life gym Team Jackson. (TUF Featherweight finalist and Team Jackson teammate) Diego Brandao was on the other team and I was making sure he had the same information I was given. I was looking out for our situation and not everyone else. The average fan doesn’t know that Diego and I train together. I’ve been training with him for four years. He’s my friend.
People say that you stop noticing the cameras after a while…
No! They were there when I went to the bathroom. I didn’t know they could come out of some of the places that they did.
Do you feel like you were portrayed properly?
They did what they needed to do for TV. I’m not going to hate on them because they had everyone talking about me. Every single episode, who were they talking about? Yeah, that’s right, me!
How was it dealing with the pranks by Jason “Mayhem” Miller and Michael Bisping?
They lightened up the experience. A lot of people in the house just wanted to talk about fighting. But I looked at this show as a onetime vacation. I’ve been fighting for 10 years and never had a real vacation. This was six weeks away from the gym and nobody could call and bother me. And there was free food! You don’t understand what it’s like to see a fridge full of food every day.
Eating all the time had to mess with your weight.
I got all the way up to 162.
Really? But you fight at 135!
That first week I did nothing but eat. I thought I was going to fight later in the season so I said “f*** it” and ate everything I saw.
You seem even better than your 16-5 pro record reflects. In the house you’ve been killing guys.
I’ve never taken fights that I thought I would be able to win. I’ve always wanted to prove a point and fight someone in their hometown. I’ve only fought at home once as a professional and I’ve had 22 fights. I don’t want the easy route and get a perfect record. I want to test myself every time I step into the cage.
What are your thoughts on T.J. Dillashaw?
He’s a tough fighter. I’m not taking him lightly but he’s cocky for someone who hasn’t proved anything yet. He might train with Team Alpha Male but that doesn’t mean anything. He’s still a beta to me. If he wants to think on Greek terms, I’ll be Omega and the last thing he ever sees.
You’re entering a whole new world of celebrity now. Has life changed for you?
My Twitter and Facebook is blowing up! Not much has really changed though. It feels great and I’m ready for the opportunity to give people something to cheer about.