UFC 174: 5 Prelim Fighters Worth Keeping an Eye On
On Saturday, the UFC heads to Vancouver, Canada, for UFC 174. The main event features a flyweight title fight between Demetrious Johnson and Ali Bagautinov. In the co-main event, Rory MacDonald and Tyron Woodley have a huge matchup in the welterweight division, and before that, Ryan Bader takes on Rafael Cavalcante, with both fighters looking to win two straight.
The preliminary card will be a little different this time. The first two fights will be on UFC Fight Pass, but the next set of prelims will take place on FX rather than Fox Sports 1.
On the prelims, there are WEC veterans, The Ultimate Fighter veterans and a few guys making their debut in the UFC.
Let's take a look at five of them worth keeping your eye on.
Kiichi Kunimoto is a welterweight gearing up for his second UFC fight. His first fight came in Singapore against Luiz Dutra at UFC Fight Night: Saffiedine vs. Lim.
The fight only lasted about three minutes, because Dutra landed several downward elbows to the back of Kunimoto's head and neck. Kunimoto couldn't continue and was awarded a DQ win.
Prior to that, Kunimoto had won four straight legitimately, with a decision and then three straight submissions—two in the first round, one in the fifth.
Kunimoto's overall record is 16-5-2 (1 NC), with two knockouts, five decisions, eight submissions and the DQ. He will face The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil finalist, Daniel Sarafian, in the final preliminary fight.
Kajan Johnson is preparing for his UFC debut, and he'll be facing Tae Hyun Bang in a lightweight fight in the first fight on FX.
Johnson has a record of 19-10-1, but his career lately has been far more impressive than it was in the beginning. In Johnson's first 14 fights, he went just 6-8, getting finished four times and scoring four of his own finishes.
However, since the second half of 2004, Johnson has gone 13-2-1 with 12 finishes. Also, one of his losses came at the hands—and elbows—of Rory MacDonald. Yes, that Rory MacDonald.
Johnson has four wins by (T)KO in his career and 11 by submission, so expect Johnson to try to get this fight to the ground.
Michinori Tanaka is a bantamweight who will be making his UFC debut, and he will be fighting for the first time in about eight months.
Tanaka enters the UFC with an undefeated record of 9-0. Two fights ago he won the Pacific Extreme Combat bantamweight title, and he defended it in his last fight. Both were 25-minute unanimous decision victories.
Overall, Tanaka has five submission victories and four decisions. He will face Roland Delorme in the final fight on UFC Fight Pass.
Jason Saggo will be making his UFC debut on Saturday, and he comes into the fight on a four-fight winning streak.
Saggo is 9-1 in his career, and of those nine wins, he has finished his opponent in every single one. He has eight submissions and one TKO. The rear-naked choke has been especially useful for Saggo, as he has won five fights with it.
Saggo's only loss came in a fight against Jesse Ronson in 2011. Ronson was signed to the UFC in 2013 and will have his third fight in July.
Saggo will face Josh Shockley in a lightweight fight in the first fight of the night, which can be seen on UFC Fight Pass.
Shockley is also making his UFC debut on Saturday. Shockley has fought in Bellator previously, but now he's made the move to the UFC.
Shockley is 11-2 in his career, with three knockouts, three decisions and five submissions.
Not only is his record impressive, but he has also faced some solid competition outside the UFC. In 2011, Shockley faced Toby Imada, and in 2012, Shockley faced and beat Shamar Bailey. In his most recent fight, Shockley beat Micah Miller by unanimous decision.
Both of Shockley's losses have come by submission, one in 59 seconds and one in 79. He'd better watch out when he faces Saggo, as Saggo has eight submissions.
Shockley and Saggo will face off in the first fight of the night on Saturday.