Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heads to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, TONIGHT (Sat., June 14, 2014) when UFC 174 storms Rogers Arena with a main event that features Demetrious Johnson trying to make his fourth Flyweight title defense against Ali Bagautinov.
The co-main event of the evening will feature a battle for a top Welterweight contender spot as top fighters Rory MacDonald and Tyron Woodley try to earn a170-pound title shot in a very exciting divisional landscape.
UFC 174 is extremely top-heavy, with the only real relevant fights coming toward the end of the night on pay-per-view (PPV); however, there are some fighters worth pointing out nonetheless.
Let's take a look:
Demetrious Johnson (Fighting Ali Bagautinov): In his last three title defenses, Johnson has shown that he is markedly better than the top contenders in his division. In fact, it's hard to imagine that Bagautinov is any better than John Dodson and/or Joseph Benavidez. Johnson operates at a speed that is barely comprehensible, with quick decision making and transitions that make him one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. His already diverse skill set evolves every fight, whereas Bagautinov presents a fairly simple opponent, one with solid punching power and good wrestling. I think Johnson is better everywhere and shows it big time in this fight.
Tyron Woodley (Fighting Rory MacDonald): Woodley's wins over Josh Koscheck and Carlos Condit, regardless of how controversial the latter was, are better than anything "Ares" has accomplished inside the Octagon to date. MacDonald is a fighter who hasn't been tested by anyone who presents more than a one dimensional approach and I think he'll struggle in the transition from striking to wrestling that Woodley will bring. Woodley's striking has come a long way, and with tremendous power, he'll keep MacDonald honest and likely gun shy, while also always presenting a takedown threat. As long as Woodley's gas tank holds up, I think MacDonald is in for big, big trouble later this evening.
Rafael Cavalcante (Fighting Ryan Bader): Cavalcante is a finisher, Bader a finishee. Bader has drastically overrated mixed martial arts (MMA) wrestling and every strike and takedown attempt he tries is horribly telegraphed and usually slow. Cavalcante isn't anything particularly special, but Bader's chin is suspect and I don't think he has the skills to outdo the Brazilian. In other words, Bader will probably get finished rather violently.
Andrei Arlovski (Fighting Brendan Schaub): Schaub is mediocre whereas Arlovski has plenty of experience. Both fighters have suspect chins, but I favor Arlovski -- the more honed striker -- to shut down Schaub's takedown attempts and destroy him on the feet.
Ryan Jimmo (Fighting Ovince St. Preux): St. Preux's best win is a controversial technical majority decision win over Gian Villante. "OSP" is a terrific athlete, not a terrific fighter, whereas Jimmo has plenty more experience and really has no business losing this fight. Jimmo has proven that he hits hard, and I think St. Preux's porous defense costs him the fight in this one.
Daniel Sarafian (Fighting Kiichi Kunimoto): Kunimoto has successfully run the Japanese nobody circuit and won his UFC debut by disqualification, whereas Sarafian has impressed since coming off The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). Sarafian is quick and grows in skill each time out, and I think he'll be far too much for Kunimoto to handle.
Yves Jabouin (Fighting Mike Easton): Jabouin is a slick striker who has been around the block, while Easton is horribly overrated and not all too good at fighting. Easton is always good for a ridiculous judging call, but I think Jabouin proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is the better fighter with a dominant striking display in this fight.
And there you have it.
To be honest, UFC 174 doesn't feature too much in the way of truly competitive fights, which is the reason it was dificult to predict a definitive "Fight of the Night" pick. Regardless, there are several fighters that I think will prove far better than their opponents at this event, which should make it pretty entertaining to watch.
MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 174 fight card on fight night (Sat., June 14, 2014), starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, right on through the FX Network-televised under card bouts at 8 p.m. ET and then main card PPV, which is slated to begin at 10 p.m. ET.