Ask John Dodson his least favorite event of all time and he's likely to say September's UFC 178 pay-per-view in Las Vegas.
Dodson (16-6), who returns from an extended injury layoff against Zach Makovsky at UFC 187 this weekend, could barely watch the main event. Had Dodson not been forced to undergo surgery in July, Cariaso's title shot likely would have belonged to him.
But Dodson's issue with UFC 178 has less to do with him not being there and more with the fact Cariaso was.
"I watched a guy who didn't deserve it, fight Demetrious Johnson for the belt," Dodson said. "It was devastating for me. I'm seeing someone not worthy fight in my place. I just didn't understand what Cariaso was doing there."
Of all the less-than-complimentary things Dodson has to say about Johnson (22-2-1) -- and there are a lot, just Google the two names right now and you'll see -- his biggest beef lies within an assertion that Johnson is collecting easy title defenses against nonqualified challengers.
The popularity (or lack thereof) of the UFC's flyweight division has been an ongoing topic for years, but Dodson said he believes that talk will stop once he holds the belt.
The main reason nobody wants to watch flyweight title fights right now is not the fighters' size (Dodson says he walks at a heavier weight than boxers Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao between fights, and they just sold more than 4 million pay-per-view buys) or Johnson's calm demeanor during interviews (although, that is a part of it, Dodson says).
No, the main reason nobody wants to watch flyweight title fights is that they're essentially over before they begin -- and Dodson blames Johnson for that.
"Who wants to watch a fight between two guys, when even the two guys in the cage know who's going to win?" Dodson asked. "Demetrious Johnson doesn't want to fight people at the top of their game. He says he wants to give guys a chance who have already been destroyed by other top guys. He just wants to stay a champion. He doesn't want to fight the best.
"Who wants to watch a fight between two guys, when even the two guys in the cage know who's going to win?"Former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis
"That bothers me. If it's me, I'll fight guys at 135 pounds, 145 pounds. I'll beat up everybody in those weight classes, too."
Judging by Dodson's comments, it might seem he has forgotten that he himself represents one of Johnson's title defenses. The two met on Jan. 26, 2013, and Johnson won via unanimous decision.
But Dodson said that's far from the truth -- in fact, he says he watches the five-round fight against Johnson "almost every day." He contends he's viewed the fight easily more than 500 times.
After three rounds, Dodson was ahead on two judges' scorecards, 29-28, that night but lost badly in the fourth and fifth. The Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA fighter is eager to get back to Johnson but only if he is 100 percent deserving.
When asked whether he's concerned that Joseph Benavidez, another highly ranked flyweight who fights John Moraga at UFC 187, could earn the next title shot before him, Dodson maintained if Benavidez is more impressive this weekend, he should get the next shot. Whoever deserves the shot most should get it -- because if there's anyone sick of seeing underwhelming flyweights in UFC title fights, it's Dodson.
"I'm pretty confident that could be my fight, but I'm not 100 percent sure," Dodson said. "If Joseph Benavidez knocks out Moraga a lot faster than I did, then I want him to have that title shot. If the UFC decides they want me and Joe to fight before [I face] Demetrious, I'll do that, too. It would suck, but I'll do it."