Demetrious Johnson vs. Ali Bagautinov: A Full Head-to-Toe Breakdown
With three title defenses down, Demetrious Johnson is on his way toward becoming a UFC legend.
Bagautinov won't go down easy, though. The Russian has won 11 in a row and is undefeated inside the Octagon.
Here is a closer look at how Johnson and Bagautinov match up in all areas ahead of their meeting Saturday.
One of the few knocks on Johnson had been his punching power, but he silenced those doubters by stopping Joseph Benavidez in his most recent outing.
While Bagautinov may still be the heavier hitter in this matchup, he's going to have a tough time touching Johnson. Mighty Mouse's speed makes him very difficult to hit with anything meaningful.
If John Dodson wasn't able to deal with Johnson's speed in space, then Bagautinov will likely seem like a still target to the champion. There's always the potential for one big punch to land, but Johnson should be able to pick his opponent apart for five rounds.
Bagautinov has never been knocked out but neither had Benavidez prior to his second meeting with the 125-pound king. So, don't rule out a second straight knockout victory for Johnson.
At 125 pounds, Johnson has become recognized as one of the best wrestlers in MMA.
In his four flyweight title bouts, Mighty Mouse has scored 22 takedowns and allowed only two. Only Ian McCall has outwrestled Johnson at 125 pounds, and Johnson came back to outwrestle McCall in an immediate rematch.
With a wrestling background, Bagautinov probably won't be dominated in the takedown department, but he's still at a disadvantage in that area. Because he tends to throw looping punches at times, Bagautinov was taken down twice by Tim Elliott, who isn't nearly as good a wrestler as Johnson.
Bagautinov will be one of the better wrestlers Johnson has faced at 125 pounds, but he still won't be good enough to win the battle of takedowns.
Neither Johnson nor Bagautinov has been submitted, so the grappling aspect of this matchup will be more about control than finishing ability.
Mighty Mouse is expected to win when it comes to takedowns, and he has shown the ability to shut opponents down on the ground. So, there is a good chance Bagautinov could lose rounds by spending nearly five minutes at a time on bottom.
Bagautinov is also highly skilled on the canvas, but he's less proven than Johnson against elite competition. In his matchup with John Lineker, Bagautinov scored a number of takedowns, but he wasn't always able to prevent the Brazilian from standing.
If this fight comes down to a decision based on control time, Johnson is the fighter more likely to spend the most time on top.
While Bagautinov is a worthy challenger, he's inexperienced in comparison to Johnson.
The Russian has only three UFC appearances. Mighty Mouse, on the other hand, has made nine trips to the Octagon and competed in WEC before then.
Where Bagautinov's inexperience really hurts him, though, is in potential fourth and fifth rounds. Johnson has seen those rounds numerous times without showing conditioning issues, while Bagautinov has never even seen a fourth round in his career.
If this fight reaches the later rounds, Johnson should be able to take over with his fast pacing.
Johnson seems to have a stranglehold on the flyweight division.
Benavidez was viewed as one of his toughest contenders, and Mighty Mouse took care of him in around two minutes. While Bagautinov has been a promising addition to the 125-pound class, he's not a bigger threat to Johnson.
The Russian arguably has stronger wrestling than Benavidez, but even that is debatable, and he's not better in any other area. While it is about stylistic matchups, Bagautinov's wrestling still doesn't appear to be at a higher level than the champion's.
Mighty Mouse can win this fight with his speed should it stay standing, or he could opt to avoid Bagautinov's power by winning what would be a slightly more competitive wrestling match. Either way, UFC ring announcer Bruce Buffer will be screaming "and still" Saturday.
Johnson defeats Bagautinov by unanimous decision.
Statistics via FightMetric.com.