UFC 174 Preview

ufc_174The UFC continues to grow throughout the world as it reaches a plateau in North America and it seems like every year there is a new country getting in on the action. Whether it was the American fighters in the 1990s when the UFC started or the influx of Brazilians later in the decade. There has always been a country that seems to take over the UFC for at least a year if not more. That is happening once again as this year may be the time that Russian fighters take over the UFC. The pattern would start in 2013 when fighters like Khabib Nurmagomedov began making appearances in the UFC and making an impact in the UFC. Then at the end of the year the influx would begin with almost every weight class having at least one Russian beginning to climb up the ranks. The lighter weights would see the impact even more as lighter weight Russian fighters would start to win and be entered into the title conversations in these divisions. With every influx comes a different style of fighters as they provide something that most fighters have never seen. For the USA it was the wrestling and the ground and pound that they brought to fighting while in Brazil it was the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu brought by the likes of Royce Gracie that would confuse everyone who faced it. Now with these Russian fighters it is Combat Sambo that has taken over a region of the country and is beginning to take over the UFC. Sambo is a martial art that was originally developed by the Red Army in the Soviet Union as their form of hand-to-hand combat. Sambo is very closely related to MMA with a very aggressive style that highlights great wrestling. It has now taken over Dagestan, a Southern district in Russia on the borders of Georgia and Azerbaijan, and fighters out of the region are coming into the UFC in droves. One of these fighters is Ali Bagautinov who entered the UFC last year and has impressed in his short time in the UFC. After three straight wins in the Flyweight division Bagautinov is now looking to become the first in this new wave of Russian/Dagestani fighters to win a belt. This is the UFC though and to win a belt Bagautinov will have to take on one of the best fighters in the world. He will take on Demetrious Johnson who has run through the top flyweight fighters to become a dominant champion. As the first ever champion of the division Johnson has yet to lose as a Flyweight and has taken all challengers in the relatively new weight class. He would face the best of the best in the division leaving everyone else to try to sort themselves out. Now he will take on the next challenger and look to remain a champion as he faces a new challenge in the Russian fighter. Bagautinov will be looking to use his experience as a Combat Sambo champion to overwhelm the champion. He has an aggressive style with great wrestling as he is sure to try to take the fight to the ground. That will be a challenge though as Demetrious Johnson is one of the fastest fighters in the UFC. Bagautinov will have to catch Johnson to take him down and put this fight on the ground. Meanwhile Johnson will look to keep his distance and stay on the outside of while using his technical striking to pick apart Bagautinov. Every fight has seen Johnson getting better and well-rounded and his striking game is the latest to show signs of improvement, which is what he will try to do in this fight. Bagautinov is on the edge of becoming the first fighter in the new wave of Russians to take a belt but it will not happen as Johnson will continue to improve and defend his belt with a unanimous decision.

As another title is determined there will be a big fight in the Welterweight Division that could go a long way to determining the next contender in the division. With Johnny Hendricks now atop the welterweight division the line to fight him has grown. There are two fighters that seem to be ready to take that step into the spotlight and earn a title shot. Rory MacDonald represents the younger challenger at only 24 years old but he has been able to run through almost everyone in the division. With only two losses in the UFC MacDonald has moved his way up the rankings as the #2 fighter in the division. He will look to finally get over the hump and beat one of the top contenders to earn a title shot by skipping ahead of Robbie Lawler, who e lost to and who recently lost his chance at the title against Hendricks. MacDonald will also have the crowd behind him as he fights in his home province of British Columbia. The enemy for the crowd comes in the form of the #3 ranked fighter in the division, Tyron Woodley. Woodley is by no means an old fighter but with 8 years on his opponent he will be the old guard in the fight. After five years in MMA he has made his way to the top of the UFC rankings after beating Josh Koshcheck and Carlos Condit. Now he sits one win away from potentially becoming the next title challenger for Johnny Hendricks’ belt. It will be a matchup of slightly different styles as both are well rounded fighters but with slightly different styles. MacDonald is the new breed of fighter who has only ever studied MMA and as a result is good everyone. He is also very athletic and is not afraid to get creative in his striking game while showing steady improvement in his wrestling game. Woodley is a wrestling but has the speed and power to knockout anyone in the division or to take them to the mat. Both fighters are looking at the title as their goal in this fight but both have a tough road to get there as neither fighter is an easy out in this division.

 

Fight Card

Main Event:
Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson vs. Ali Bagautinov (Pay-per-View)

Main Card:
Rory “Ares” McDonald vs. Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley (Pay-per-View)

Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante vs. Ryan “Darth” Bader (Pay-per-View)

Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski vs. Brendan “The Hybrid” Schaub (Pay-per-View)

Ryan “The Big Deal” Jimmo vs. Ovince St. Preux (Pay-per-View)

Undercard:
Daniel Sarafian vs. Kiichi “Strasser” Kunimoto (Sportsnet 360/FX)

Valérie “Trouble” Létorneau vs. Elizabeth Phillips (Sportsnet 360/FX)

Yves “Tiger” Jabouin vs. Mike “The Hulk” Easton (Sportsnet 360/FX)

“Ragin” Kajan Johnson vs. Tae “Macho” Hyun Bang (Sportsnet 360/FX)

“Stunning” Roland Delorme vs. Michinori Tanaka (UFC Fight Pass)

Josh Shockley vs. Jason Saggo (UFC Fight Pass)

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