ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — John Dodson broke John Moraga’s nose and then whipped his hometown crowd into a frenzy.
The Albuquerque native crushed Moraga in the face with a knee near the end of the second round. Moraga was able to survive until the bell, but the ringside doctor would not let him continue, giving Dodson a TKO victory Saturday at UFC Fight Night here at Tingley Coliseum.
When Dodson was announced as the winner, the crowd noise was absolutely deafening. And Dodson, the top-ranked flyweight contender in the UFC, riled them up even more when he was interviewed by Jon Anik afterward. Dodson called out champion Demetrious Johnson in a breathtaking rant.
"I am the best in the division!" Dodson yelled.
And the crowd yelled back. They didn’t have much to cheer throughout much of the fight, even booing certain points. But Dodson got them back on his side quickly with a left knee to Moraga’s nose and a flurry that nearly finished it. Dodson said he wasn’t happy that he couldn’t end things inside the Octagon.
"I wanted to put him to sleep for you guys," Dodson said.
Though Dodson (16-6) has already gotten a title shot against Johnson, he gave the champion a run in January 2013. The 29-year-old likely to get the winner of the fight between Johnson and Ali Bagautinov next week at UFC 174.
Moraga (14-3) came in ranked No. 5 in the division, so he was hardly a slouch. He has also earned an opportunity against Johnson in the past. Now, it’ll be a longer path back for the 30-year-old from Arizona.