UFC returns to Canada at Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia. Some say that the cards at least on paper, has a number of intriguing matches. In the main event, UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson will defend his title against rising Dagestani Ali Bagautinov while in the co-main event, welterweights Tyron Woodley and Rory MacDonald will clash to see who is more worthy of a title shot.
Will Johnson’s agility be the deciding factor over the hard-hitting Bagautinov? Who is the better fighter: Woodley or MacDonald?
Demetrious Johnson vs. Ali Bagautinov
Johnson has faced good wrestlers, heavy punchers and fighters that are good at both. Maybe they don’t blend them quite as well as Bagautinov, but in terms of fire power the two are equal. A nicely timed right straight from the Dagestani can put anyone’s lights out in that weight class, while Johnson is going to put it on him with quick and thunderous punches. Maybe not in the same way Johnson put it on John Moraga. Bagautinov seems more prepared for this level of competition, but if and when this goes past the third round, Johnson’s adjustments are going to take away what Bagautinov does well, leaving him helpless and the mercy of Mighty Mouse’s hands.
Pick: Demetrious Johnson
Rory MacDonald vs. Tyron Woodley
Were this a five-round fight, MacDonald will definitely last longer. In a three-round fight, Woodley will be able to do enough in rounds one and two to hang on as long as he isn’t put away in the third. He’s proactive on offense and his wrestling is there to at least control the Canadian Tri-Star product. Maybe MacDonald can surprise and either earn a stoppage late or take two rounds from Woodley. He’s certainly talented enough. The real shame, though, is that he’s forced to do it in a context that doesn’t match the weight of the bout.
Pick: Tyron Woodley
Ryan Bader vs. Rafael Cavalcante
This is a crazy close fight, at least on paper. It’s also one of these fights you see ending very quickly and violently despite the odds being close. However, the Brazillian is more of the hard hitter. He’ll fade if the fight goes late, which is a serious knock on him. He won’t be able to stop takedowns long enough to land a bomb or two on the American – especially against the fence, where he excels at the practice – and that’ll be enough to move this fight card along.
Pick: Rafael Cavalcante
Andrei Arlovski vs. Brendan Schaub
Is it the craziest idea in the world to think Arlovski, whose takedown defense remains good, could stuff some of Schaub’s takedown attempts, frustrate the former football player and lure him into exchanging? No.
Pick: Brendan Schaub
Ovince St. Preux vs. Ryan Jimmo
OSP can be clumsy with his offense at times, which leaves him open to more patient. Jimmo, on the other hand, is likely to react to OSP’s more proactive offense. And that is probably enough to side with the former football player. MMA is a game where attacking first and consistently makes a dramatic difference in outcomes. Jimmo isn’t less talented than OSP, but it won’t behoove him to find his opportunities off of counters. Very few fighters, e.g. Lyoto Machida, can exact that strategy to great effect. Jimmo is not one of them, at least not here.