(image via Zuffa, LLC/ article by Adam LeBarr)
To the real fans of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), it's finally happening, the 125lbs division will be the headlining fight of a PPV (Pay-Per-View) event.
Previously, the flyweight champion, Demetrious Johnson has defended his title on free T.V - It be a Fight Night card, or featured on FOX. Now, after building a greater fan base and showing what the 125lbs weight division is all about, he's set to defend his title in UFC 174's main event against Ali Bagautinov.
Ovince Saint Preux vs. Ryan Jimmo -
Saint Preux is currently on an impressive 4 fight win streak in the light heavyweight division, but his opponent, Jimmo, has the skills and tools to provide the fans in Vancouver with an upset.
Saint Preux is currently ranked #13 in the world within the 205lbs division - Considering Ryan Jimmo is yet to achieve a top 15 rank, this may spark a fire under the ass of Jimmo, making him a huge threat in their up-and-coming bout.
Despite what Jimmo may feel towards rankings and putting on an upset, on this one, I'm sticking to the numbers. Again, Ovince is on a great streak, and only getting better and better with every fight he takes.
Pick: Ovince Saint Preux
Brendan Schaub vs. Andrei Arlovski -
A warning; I may have a bias opinion on this one due to Arlovski being a favorite growing up as a kid. However, his 'welcome back' opponent isn't going to be a "walk in the park" for Arlovski.
Brendan Schaub, TUF (The Ultimate Fighter) contender on the 10th season, has grown a great deal within the world of MMA since his finale loss to Roy Nelson. Schaub is currently riding a 2 fight win streak, defeating Lavar Johnson and Matt Mitrione. Since his last victory, it has been 9 months since he last stepped foot inside the UFC octagon. We've seen 'ring rust', we've also witnessed fighters returning to the cage better then when they left. Schaub has recently moved, hoping the new environment will help point him in the right direction for a title run.
Arlovski is also on a 2 fight win streak. In the most recent years he has turned his fighting career completely around, as I'm sure you knew with him signing back with the UFC after 6 years of being away - fighting elsewhere. Late 2011, 'The Pitbull' picked up a TKO victory over Ray Lopez, it was nothing but success from that point forward.
In his return to the UFC, I can only assume Arlovski plans on making a huge statement towards Brendan Schaub, as well as the rest of the division. Dana White in a media scrum stated: "Arlovski is reaching the end of his career" - This weekend we find out.
Pick: Andrei Arlovski
Ryan Bader vs. Rafael Cavalcante -
Ryan Bader, ranked #9 in the 205lbs division has his eyes set on a title run. Though hes been close, he hasn't quite reached that level of combat competition. Cavalcante, ranked #12, has had a taste of gold. Prior to the UFC buying out Strikeforce, Cavalcante defeated 'King' Mo, obtaining the light heavyweight Strikeforce championship. Cavalcante is in search of his lost treasure, as to where Bader is looking for what was once almost in reach.
What impressed me was Ryan Bader's fight with Glover Teixeira - He lost, but rocked and looked to be just moment away from walking out of the octagon victorious against a man who was on a 20 fight win streak.
Bader has fought a long list of top UFC veterans, and will be looking to use that experience against Cavalcante.
Pick: Ryan Bader
Rory MacDonald vs. Tyron Woodley -
After Georges St-Pierre walked out of UFC 171 victorious after a controversial decision against Johny Hendricks, the French Canadian stated he needed a break from MMA. Shortly after making his statement in the octagon and in the post-fight press conference, on a conference call with Dana White and St-Pierre, he announced he was stepping away from the sport officially, giving up the title. This completely opened up the Welterweight division.
Since GSP has left (for now(we hope)), Lawler, Brown, Woodley, MacDonald + more have moved to the top of the division, all racing for a shot at the new title holder, Johny Hendricks. Matt Brown is set to take on Robbie Lawler in a no.1 contender bout, and at UFC 174 in the co-main event, Rory MacDonald takes on Tyron Woodley, and depending on the fight outcome, winner may be faced with a shot at gold.
MacDonald, ranked #2 and Woodley, ranked #3 are set to enter the UFC octagon, looking to prove either one of them is ready for the top position in the welterweight division, currently held by Johny Hendricks since St-Pierre's leave.
Both MacDonald and Woodley are coming off of impressive performances, now it's all about who truly wants it more. MacDonald for a while now has been top 5 in the 170lbs division, states he's only getting better and with his last victory over Damian Maia, it shows.
Pick: Rory MacDonald
Demetrious Johnson vs. Ali Bagautinov -
In the main event, for the flyweight title, champion Demetrious Johnson takes on Ali Bagautinov. This will be the first time a 125lbser has headlined a PPV fight card.
Going into this fight, Demetrious Johnson over and over again has proven he's faster, stronger and an all around better fighter than anyone within the flyweight division - all but one.
Bagautinov is currently riding an 11 fight win streak, and last February, Bagautinov got the unanimous decision victory over John Lineker, solidifying his shot at the title.
Everyone that has built up an impressive enough resume to take on Johnson has fallen. Every fight, Johnson gets faster, and more explosive, as we saw in his last title defense against rival Joseph Benavidez.
Pick: Demetrious Johnson
Main card (PPV at 10 p.m. ET)
Demetrious Johnson vs. Ali Bagautinov
Rory MacDonald vs. Tyron Woodley
Ryan Bader vs. Rafael Cavalcante
Andrei Arlovski vs. Brendan Schaub
Ryan Jimmo vs. Ovince St. Preux
Undercard (FX at 8 p.m. ET)
Daniel Sarafian vs. Kiichi Kunimoto
Valerie Letourneau vs. Milana Dudieva
Yves Jabouin vs. Mike Easton
Kajan Johnson vs. Tae Hyun Bang
Undercard (UFC Fight Pass at 7 p.m. ET)
Roland Delorme vs. Michinori Tanaka
Jason Saggo vs. Josh Shockley