There is no title bestowed upon the greatest all-around athlete in mixed martial arts, but if there were, UFC flyweight John Dodson would be a leading contender for the honor.

He pulls off moves in the gym that regularly stun onlookers. Anthony Pettis became a national sensation in 2010 when, in the final fight in World Extreme Cagefighting history, he leaped up against the cage, pushed off and kicked Benson Henderson in the head.

The move became known as the "Showtime Kick," and was nominated for an ESPY as Play of the Year. It was a jaw-dropping move that hadn't been done before and hasn't happened since.

Dodson, though, regularly pulls it off in the gym.

He's only 5 feet 3 inches, but he can dunk a basketball. He may never be a contender to beat Spud Webb in a slam dunk contest, but Webb, the 1986 NBA Slam Dunk contest winner, has four inches on him.

"Oh, man, the guy is so athletic he could walk into any Cirque du Soleil tomorrow and be a star in that world," trainer Mark Valle said. "In the gym, he does incredible, incredible stuff. He works hard but he has fun in there, doing flying kicks running off the top of the cage. He runs up the wall and somersaults into the cage at the start of practice. He can do all kinds of Spider-Man-like stuff.” Dodson is so gifted, he doesn't need to run the length of the court to build momentum in order to dunk. He said he can start from the free throw line and get up high enough to slam.

It's just one of his many athletic gifts.

[Also: Stephan Bonnar readies himself for Anderson Silva, becoming a father]

Dodson, who fights Jussier Formiga (formerly known as Jussier da Silva) in the co-main event of UFC on FX 5 on Friday at the Target Center in Minneapolis, will earn a shot at flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson with a win.

The bantamweight winner of "The Ultimate Fighter 14" in December is one of the most explosive fighters in the sport and has already made a fan of UFC president Dana White with his up-tempo, aggressive style.

"[Dodson] is unbelievable," White said. "I like the guy. He's incredibly fast, but he hits really hard. He's fun to watch. If he gets past [Formiga], can you imagine what a fight between him and [Johnson] would be like?"

While his fights are entertaining, so, too, are the feats he's able to pull off that show his athleticism.

His teammate, UFC heavyweight Travis Browne, calls him "a phenomenal athlete, just remarkable."

Browne has repeatedly seen that first-hand, both in watching Dodson train and when Dodson is pulling off one stunt or another.

One of his most jaw-dropping is when he has the 6-7 Browne stand about three or four steps away from him. Dodson runs up, climbs up Browne's back like he's scaling a wall and then pushes off to do a reverse somersault.

Dodson's ho-hum about it all because he's been doing mind-boggling feats for so long, it's pretty much become second nature.

Despite his lack of size, he was always confident in his ability and never thought of himself as less than any of his peers because he was shorter than they were.

"The funny thing is, I never knew I was little until my sophomore year in high school," Dodson said. "When people started showing me pictures, I realized I was small. I really thought I was average height. I never looked at them that they were taller than me. I never thought, 'Oh, I need to be bigger so I could do this or do that.'

"I'm true testament to 'Ignorance is bliss.' I was ignorant to the fact that I was so small, I shouldn't be able to do the things I was doing. I was just so happy to go do it. It was like, 'What do you want me to play? Nose guard? OK, cool. Fullback? Cool, no problem.' I didn't think of my size. I just went and played and did things."

[Also: Stephan Bonnar contemplating naming son after former rival]

The biggest thing he needs to do on Friday is to avoid Formiga's dangerous submission game. He won't, though, rely solely on his athleticism to do so.

He's not only extremely athletic; he has a bright MMA mind and serves as an instructor at Jackson's. And he has a strategy for Formiga.

"I'm just going to punch him in the face," Dodson said.

He pauses a long while, then continues.

"Often. And hard. Usually," he says, breaking into a laugh, "that does the trick."

And if it doesn't, he has a very deep bag of tricks he can reach into to find something that does.

Other popular content on the Yahoo! network:
NFL Power Rankings: The Vikings continue their march toward the top 10
Y! Movies: 'Family Guy' creator is next Oscars host
Forbes: The sports women watch
Miguel Cabrera sits out Tigers' raucous celebration

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

John Dodson ready to rid UFC of 'plague' in flyweight division (Yahoo Sports)

  • 7 hours ago
  • 0 views

From Yahoo Sports: Dodson has plenty of jokes about Demetrious Johnson, who has successfully defended his title six times. read news >>

John Dodson ready to rid UFC of 'plague' in flyweight division (Yahoo Sports)

  • 7 hours ago
  • 0 views

From Yahoo Sports: Dodson has plenty of jokes about Demetrious Johnson, who has successfully defended his title six times. read news >>

Anderson Silva's questionable explanation leads to harsher penalty (Yahoo Sports)

  • 19 days ago
  • 14 views

From Yahoo Sports: Commissioners probing Silva about failed drug tests in January didn't find him forthcoming about a particular substance read news >>

Herb Dean refs Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson 2 main event at UFC 191

  • 19 days ago
  • 4 views

Veteran referee Herb Dean will oversee the UFC’s flyweight title fight next month in Las Vegas, the Nevada State Athletic Commission today confirmed.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

Judges, referees selected for UFC 191: Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson 2

  • 19 days ago
  • 2 views

Veteran referee Herb Dean was selected Thursday to oversee UFC 191's flyweight title fight on Sept. 5 between Demetrious Johnson and John Dodson. The selection was made at a meeting of the Nevada Ath read news >>

UFC Full Fight Flashback: Demetrious Johnson and John Dodson’s First Showdown

  • 20 days ago
  • 40 views

Before flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson and John Dodson rematch at UFC 191 on Sept. 5, check out their first showdown. read news >>

How a new division could help find a rival for Rousey (Yahoo Sports)

  • 21 days ago
  • 1 views

From Yahoo Sports: If the UFC were to add a women’s flyweight division, it could develop a fresh threat for Ronda Rousey. read news >>

How a new division could help find a rival for Rousey (Yahoo Sports)

  • 21 days ago
  • 14 views

There are enough fighters for the UFC to add a women’s flyweight division, and perhaps develop a fresh threat for Ronda Rousey. read news >>

Video: Watch UFC 191 headliner John Dodson flatten Darrell Montague

  • 21 days ago
  • 20 views

UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson is unquestionably one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, but John Dodson may be one of the few men on the planet with the skills to beat him read news >>

Progress made on Rousey vs. 'Cyborg' fight, but don%26#x2019;t expect it in 2015 (Yahoo Sports)

  • 22 days ago
  • 3 views

From Yahoo Sports: There’s been a lot of chatter in the past week about a possible megafight, but who’s telling the truth? read news >>