*** For MMAmania.com's UFC 174: "Johnson vs. Bagautinov" play-by-play coverage of the main card click RIGHT HERE. ***
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returned to Vancouver for the first time since UFC 115, invading Rogers Arena for UFC 174: "Johnson vs. Bagautinov."
Before the main card competitors lunge at each other for ultimate supremacy, the "Prelims" were broadcast online through Fight Pass and FX, providing mixed martial arts (MMA) fans with six appetizers before the main course.
In the "Prelims" main event, former Pancrase standout Kiichi Kunimoto finished off Daniel Sarafian quickly in the first round via rear naked choke.
The Brazilian was very tight to open up the first round, while Kunimoto mixed things up nicely by going low with kicks. "Strasser" was able to bring his foe down to the mat, and after some transitioning, he locked in the rear naked choke for the win.
The Japanese fighter secured his sixth-straight victory with the win in Vancouver.
Both making their Octagon debuts on short notice in the co-main event, Valerie Letourneau edged Elizabeth Philips by split decision in a scrappy affair.
Phillips came out swinging, immediately getting the clinch. As Letourneau separated herself, things got violent quickly as both bantamweights slugged it out by dishing out punches. The Quebecer's left eye swelled up fast though, and the Sikjitsu-trained Phillips made sure to target it.
Letourneau drilled Phillips with a couple of good right hands, staggering her foe, but couldn't capitalize. Still, her standup looked heavily improved, thanks to her time training at American Top Team (ATT). Her combinations were troubling her Spokane-based foe, despite Phillips tucking her chin and staying in the pocket. Letourneau's best hit of the fight was a knee she threw in the second round, landing flush on Phillips' face.
In the third round, Phillips fought with urgency, looking for the takedown whenever she could. Unfortunately for her, Letourneau continued the pressure and secured her first win in UFC.
A great bantamweight match up on paper turned out to be somewhat lackluster, as Yves Jabouin beat Mike Easton by unanimous decision as the action continued on FX.
The contest started off quick and technical until an eye poke to Easton halted the action momentarily. The moment both fighters were summoned to resume, they exchanged wild kicks and punches in opposite directions, with Jabouin landing takedowns despite doing nothing on top. Easton was a little more active once he scored a takedown of his own.
Their battle was quite interesting when contested on the feet, since "Tiger" did his best to pick apart "Hulk" with calculated strikes, while Easton was using power over finesse, even with his impressive speed. The TriStar product did have the edge with his decorated spinning kicks, landing them repeatedly.
Jabouin's takedowns proved to be the difference in the third round, even though he did jack squat to follow up and survived a kimura attempt, too.
The FX broadcast opened up with a lightweight contest, in which Tae Hyun Bang lived up to his last name and knocked out Kajan Johnson.
Johnson threw a head kick early, but Bang caught most of it. "Ragin" then landed a takedown, yet his opponent had him in a weak guillotine until he let go. Bang dropped Johnson with a crushing left hook, but the Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Nations" semifinalist went low to protect himself. Johnson was able to get a late takedown, doing his best to steal the round.
The two combatants slugged it out in the second, each of them eating their adversary's best punches. A nasty cut opened up on "Supernatural" after an elbow from Johnson, and the British Columbia native worked his takedowns more often.
After trading strikes in the third round, Johnson threw a kick in Bang's direction, but the South Korean caught it once again and decked him with a right hand. Johnson was out cold, with referee John McCarthy saving him from any more damage.
Michinori Tanaka was able to find victory inside the Octagon in his very first fight, frustrating Roland Delorme to a unanimous decision victory.
Both fighters were looking for openings by starting off patient, until Delorme popped the former Shooto champion and rushed his submission attempts while they were both on the mat. The Japanese fighter then maintained top position, amid triangle choke attempts from his Canadian foe.
He was also heavy in top position after throwing "Stunning" on the mat, keeping him grounded for almost the entire duration of the second round. Delorme was able to reverse positioning in the third round after Tanaka took him down again, but Delorme's success was short-lived while being bloodied in the later stages of the third round.
The very first bout of the night saw Jason Saggo punch his way to victory over Bellator veteran Josh Shockley in the first round.
Saggo commenced by flirting with head kicks, before committing to the takedown. He dominated the first round, despite the Canadian's flexible legs, and before getting the finish via ground-and-pound, he was inches away from locking in a rear-naked choke. Had he scored the submission, it would have been his fourth consecutive win by that specific hold.
Here are the entire UFC 174 "Prelims" quick results:
170 lbs.: Kiichi Kunimoto vs. Daniel Sarafian -- Kunimoto def. Sarafian by submission (RNC) at 2:52 of Round One
135 lbs.: Valerie Letourneau vs. Elizabeth Phillips -- Letourneau def. Phillips by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
135 lbs.: Mike Easton vs. Yves Jabouin -- Jabouin def. Easton by unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
155 lbs.: Kajan Johnson vs. Tae Hyun Bang -- Bang def. Johnson by KO (punch) at 2:01 of Round Three
135 lbs.: Roland Delorme vs. Michinori Tanaka -- Tanaka def. Delorme by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
155 lbs.: Jason Saggo vs. Josh Shockley -- Saggo def. Shockley by TKO (punches) at 4:57 of Round One
Make sure to follow our UFC 174: "Johnson vs. Bagautinov" play-by-play coverage of the main card RIGHT HERE.