Boring week in the world of MMA, eh? With the UFC running damage control on The American Gangster’s failed drug test and subsequent finger pointing, there has been little to no fanfare from the promotion about their surprisingly solid UFC 174. The UFC may have scaled back their expectations for this event, as the Flyweight title has never headlined a Pay Per View card and the little guys don’t exactly move units in the MMA market. With UFC 175 quickly approaching, I wouldn’t blame the UFC for scaling back the hype-train on this card that won’t likely appeal to anyone outside of the established hardcore fanbbase. Still, as you scan over each and every fight on 174’s Main Card, it would be hard not to let out a “Dang, I wan’t to watch that fight!” There are few ‘up and comers’ on this card, even better there are fewer foreign crowd pleasers. Vegas even handicaps 4 out of the 5 fights as near ‘Pick ’em’ situations. Everyone on the card is an established MMA entity and in case you weren’t already worked into a fervor, Andrei Freakin’ Arlovski is back in the Octagon! Need I say more??? On to the preview!
UFC 174 Main Card: 10 PM on PPV (Vegas favorite in italics)
Ryan Jimmo v. Ovince St. Preux
It’s tough to pick against the uber-athlete St. Preux after his filthy Von Flue choke at UFC 171. That submission is just something you don’t see during MMA competition today. Combine his physical advantages over Jimmo with his ever improving striking, and I see OSP as a bigger favorite than the -130 odds Vegas is assigning him. Jimmo is coming off an impressive KO win where he went back to that aggressive striking style that made him a fan favorite. In an attempt to appeal to the Canadian faithful, I see Jimmo going out there and trading shots with OSP. With his football days further and further behind him, you can’t just consider OSP an MMA “athlete” now. He is slowly becoming a well-rounded, and highly skilled, martial artist. OSP drops the Canadian Jimmo early in the second round and finishes with another choke. OSP by Submission.
Andrei Arlovski v. Brendan Schaub
Yes, that Andrei Arlovsi. The one that last found himself in the Octagon at UFC 82. The one who dropped 4 fights in a row from 2009 to 2011 and most of us wrote off his career. We thought his chin was toast, but The Pitbull has proven just the opposite in the last 3 years. In that timespanHe has not suffered a single TKO loss in 8 tilts and has dished out 4 KOs of his own. Looking to ruin the former interim UFC Heavyweight Champ’s return will be Brendan Schaub. Schaub seems like a decent dude, but I have a heck of a time trying to support him after that Metamoris performance…
He has seemingly abandonded his once potent striking attack amid concerns of his own chin’s durability. It would be a spectacle if these two decided to stand and trade bungalows, as one of them would end up dropping like a bag of wet sand. Yet, I doubt we get treated to that event. That crafty Schaub will do his best to rain on Arlovski’s homecoming parade. Remember that Lavar Johnson fight where Schaub did his best blanket impression for 3 rounds? Expect that, but with a plenty more boos from the crowd. Schaub wins a snoozer as he neutralizes Arlovski’s only weapon, his hands. Schaub by decision.
Ryan Bader v. Rafael ‘Feijao’ Cavalcante
Well, isn’t this a tasty scrap being the third fight on the card? If either of these guys swing with bad intentions, they can put damn near any human on Earth to sleep. The problem is that each have had periods of timidity that have hindered their careers. Bader did his best to steal Anthony Perosh’s soul in December, but the Aussie proved to be able to take an inhumane amount of punishment. Still, that fight did little to prove Bader’s mettle against the best in the world. This fight against Feijao should do just that. When talking about Feijao we know the credentials: Black House stalwart, vicious striker, and elite grappler. Yet, his one detriment is his activity. This may have something to do with a proclivity to fail drug tests, but he has only fought 4 times in the last 3 years. You don’t rise to the top of the UFC’s premier division by riding the pine.
As far as the fight goes, it is a true toss up. Bader’s chin doesn’t exactly give me hope that he could grind out a 3 round decision absorbing haymakers from Feijao. On the other hand, I don’t know if Feijao sees anyone with Bader’s combination of wrestling talent and power on a daily basis. Add in the fact that anytime I’ve seen a video of Bader over the last couple years he has been running up mile high hills in the desert. That has to be good for his cardio, right??? This sneaky could be Fight of the Night. If I let my inner fan boy take over, I see a three round war between two talented veterans. Bader’s cardio wins out and he gets two out of three rounds in this back and forth battle. Bader can control the ground, but he isn’t that dangerous from there. Feijao will try to win this thing standing. It will be his downfall. Bader by decision.
Tyron Woodley v. Rory McDonald
Whenever I hear Rory McDonald speak, I hear a fifth grader trying to hold in some serious gas while talking to a cute girl at recess… He is so mild mannered that the whole Canadian Psycho gimmick could have done wonders for his marketing efforts. His talents in the cage are prodigal, but he is just so damn dislikable. In stark contrast, Tyron Woodley is lightning in a bottle. His power has become a cheat code in the Welterweight division and his recent run has demolished the wrestler stigma that he carried over from Strikeforce. My dream is for a Johny Hendricks/T-Wood title fight, but that’s for another blog…
Rory rebounded from his disheartening loss to Robbie Lawler with a mildly impressive victory over BJJ ace Demian Maia. We know he has all the tools in the shed, he just doesn’t seem to like to utilize them all. He is happy with a mere victory, and a dominating performance isn’t something he seeks. T-Wood on the other hand is all about crushing fools and asking questions at a later date. He has absolutely smashed the likes of Hieron, Koscheck, and Condit and looks like a world beater. When he gets off the bus, he has champion written all over him. I would love nothing more than for T-Wood to go out and put his fist on Rory’s chin and earn himself a title shot. Rory has never even come close to facing anyone as powerful, quick, or skilled as Woodley. Even training with GSP couldn’t prepare him for the powerhouse that is T-Wood. Woodley can get on Rory quick with a combination of powerful strikes and dominant wrestling. MacDonald could try to run away from Woodley and if that happens I see T-Wood turning this thing dirty and trying to unload on the Canuck as he leaves the clinch. Either way, this thing is going one way. T-Wood puts Rory to sleep. Power, skill, and speed outweigh smarts and unrealized talent. T-Wood by TKO.
Flyweight Title Fight
Champion Demetrious Johnson v. Ali Baguatinov
Ariel Helwani posed this question on this week’s MMA Hour: Would you rather watch this fight, or John Dodson taking Ali’s place on one week’s notice. My answer? Give me Dodson. To me, he is the only fighter in the division with anything to give DJ. Watching Baguatinov fight 3 times has not left me with the feeling that he will be able to tag DJ with power shots. DJ could very easily move in and out on the Dagestani striker and not even see his chin touched once. I know I should tred lightly with my overconfident prediction after the shock that TJ Dillashaw just threw our way, but there is little doubt in my mind that DJ is in any sort of danger. He is faster, smarter, and better trained. There have been rumors that Ali has gotten into a scrap or two at Jackson’s gym and some international issues prevented him from having a full dedicated training camp. I don’t care if you have a combination of Ali, Tyson, and Lee bestowing their secrets upon you, you need a full fight camp to take on a Champion like Johnson and expect to defeat him. Look for the unnaturally quick Champ to dart around the cage and spin circles around Baguatinov. A 50-45 decision is all but in the books. DJ by decision.