Brazilian brawlers and ravaging wrestlers take to the Octagon for Ultimate Fighting Championship's (UFC) first trip up north this year.
UFC 186 stars include Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson and the latest top-ranked challenger to his throne, Japanese karate specialist Kyoji Horiguchi. Prior to the evening's main course, the returning Quinton "Rampage" Jackson will face off with fellow Light Heavyweight slugger Fabio Maldonado. Also featured on the pay-per-view (PPV) main card is a bout between two perennial Middleweight contenders Michael Bisping and C.B. Dollaway.
But, that's not all folks!
Perhaps the most undervalued fighter on tonight's colossal Canadian card is the burgeoning Bantamweight contender Thomas Almeida, who's undefeated in 17 professional tilts. He will open the PPV main card with veteran Yves Jabouin.
Though us Maniacs missed out on seeing T.J. Dillashaw and Renan Barao square off for the 135-pound title for a second time, fight fans will surely be treated to a heaping helping of hard-hitting mixed martial arts (MMA) action.
My thoughts on who might snag an extra $50,000 on the way out of the cage are right below:
Yves Jabouin vs. Thomas Almeida
Tale of the tape: 24 T(KO), 4 submission -- total career victories between both fighters
Tristar Gym's Jabouin and Chutebox's Almeida are capable of sending opponents home early. Only one has been particularly better in the art of hand-to-hand combat lately, though.
The 23-year-old Almeida has been unstoppable thus far in his MMA career. He has accumulated knockout after knockout through his pin-point accuracy. Plus, he has an assortment of kicks to puzzle opponents and a durable chin that has been battle-tested.
Jabouin is 35 years old and has seen better days. He managed to out-grapple Mike Easton in June 2014, but has been finished badly in his three UFC losses. He will conceivably be outmatched in every single department and is basically set up to fall here, to put it bluntly.
Prediction: Almeida via first-round technical knockout
John Makdessi vs. Shane Campbell
Tale of the tape: 13 T(KO), 2 submission
Make no mistake about it, "The Bull" will be pulling
no plenty of punches when he welcomes his Canadian counterpart to the Octagon.
Makdessi is a well-versed striker. The 29-year-old loves a scrap, but he can also strike from a distance. He can also throw you off every now and then. Check out his dominant first-round knockout win over Renee Forte here!
"Shaolin" slides into UFC off the strength of his kickboxing pedigree and penchant for HADOUKEN-style knockouts. Campbell has won three fights in a row by way of strikes. He's definitely no slouch by any means and should not be taken the least bit lightly by Makdessi.
The latter will be out for a finish after suffering a questionable decision loss in his last Octagon foray, which should make for an ever more intense battle on Saturday night.
However, I'm feeling a little trigger happy. Since I took Max Holloway over Cub Swanson for an upset at last weekend's UFC on Fox 15 event, I'll do the same here.
Prediction: Campbell via third-round technical knockout
Michael Bisping vs. C.B. Dollaway
Tale of the tape: 21 T(KO), 7 submission
Both men will look to erase the sting of a disappointing loss when they go to war in Montreal.
"The Count" has been looking for back-to-back wins ever since his four-fight win streak was snapped by Chael Sonnen in Jan. 2012. He was last dispatched by the current No. 1-ranked Middleweight Luke Rockhold in Nov. 2014.
Ordinarily, the Brit's striking is on point. He's one of the better boxers that the middleweight division has to offer. Contrary to widespread belief, Bisping also packs decent power. Although he doesn't send the most auspicious haymakers, nine of his 15 Octagon wins were of the knockout or technical knockout variety.
Dollaway, on the other hand, is less accomplished of a striker. The 31-year-old's stand-up game has grown considerably over the last seven years, but it's hardly close to the level of Bisping's. "Doberman" will look for a messy, knock-down, drag-out-type battle.
Think Sonnen-Bisping three years ago.
Fortunately for Bisping, I don't see that happening. He's seen way worse than Dollaway's wrestling and constant pressure. Not to mention, Dollaway's confidence may still be a little shaky after such a lopsided defeat at the hands of Lyoto Machida in Dec. 2014.
With that being said, I wouldn't expect Bisping to put down The Doberman.
Prediction: Bisping via unanimous decision
Rampage Jackson vs. Fabio Maldonado
Tale of the tape: 29 T(KO), 10 submission
Rampage and Maldonado will lock horns inside Bell Centre this evening in a sure-fire "Knockout of the Night" candidate.
The 36-year-old Jackson is on a tear right now, having won three-straight fights to earn himself another shot in the sport's biggest promotion. If the former UFC Light Heavyweight champ doesn't knock you out, he's going toe-to-toe with you for 15 minutes.
Rampage is always one hook away from ending a fight.
The Brazilian bomber Maldonado will be his target practice on the evening. He's always up for a brawl; a style that has made him a fan favorite but one that has yielded him mixed results in the Octagon. Maldonado has won three-straight fights, but has also lost three-in-a-row.
The 35-year-old is durable but he's typically in there to make opposing fighters look good; tis is the case with Rampage. Maldonado gets steamrolled in a triumphant return for the former Pride FC superstar.
Prediction: Rampage via first-round technical knockout
Demetrious Johnson vs. Kyoji Horiguchi
Tale of the tape: 13 T(KO), 9 submission
"Mighty Mouse" is one mighty man. D.J. is the only champ the 125-pound division has ever known. During his 18-month reign, the 28-year-old has totaled three finishes.
Johnson's best attribute would be his speed and tenacity. He possesses excellent takedowns and lightening-fast hands. Over the course of his Octagon tenure, Johnson has cleared out his division, taking out names like John Dodson, Joseph Benavidez and Ian McCall. It is also worth mentioning that he owns a victory over Horiguchi's trainer "Kid" Norifumi Yamamoto.
Horiguchi is a tactician on the feet and is riding a nine-fight unbeaten streak. His Karate style has puzzled all four of his UFC opponents.
The 24-year-old phenom is excellent at sticking and moving; Horiguchi has absorbed no more than 26 strikes in a fight. The Krazy Bee standout is also somewhat of an underrated grappler. Although his skill-set is very impressive, Johnson should be more prepared in each area of the fight.
Prediction: Mighty Mouse via third-round submission
Several interesting tussles are to be witnessed on PPV. Rampage aims to turn over a new leaf in his latest UFC run, while Thomas Almeida continues to alert the 135-pound division to his presence. Are you ready for Saturday night?
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 186 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1 and PPV under- and main-cards, which will begin at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET, respectively.