Little guys have to work extra hard for respect. Call it unfair, but call it reality. UFC flyweight champion Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson is experiencing this firsthand as he has all but dominated every opponent since moving to the division.
Still, he's one of the least popular champions in the promotion.
The technically sound speed merchant will put his talents on display and title on the line Saturday night at UFC 174 in Vancouver. His opponent is the relative newcomer from Russia, Ali Bagautinov. This will only be Bagautinov's fourth fight in the UFC.
Those two will main event the festivities.
Since this is the last UFC event before the EA Sports UFC video game releases on June 17, Mighty Mouse will have the perfect mouthpiece for the occasion.
Expect a ton of promos for the game during the event. Move over, Metro PCS.
The Johnson-Bagautinov bout will be supported by a strong undercard filled with recognizable names and faces. Here's a look at the full card with predictions, start times and viewing information for the entire event. Below the table is a closer look at the three biggest bouts on the card.
|UFC Fight Pass Preliminary||7 p.m. ET|
|Jason Saggo vs. Josh Shockley||Lightweight||Saggo by submission|
|Roland Delorme vs. Michinori Tanaka||Bantamweight||Tanaka by decision|
|FX Prelims||8 p.m. ET|
|Kajan Johnson vs. Tae Hyun Bang||Lightweight||Johnson by decision|
|Yves Jabouin vs. Mike Easton||Bantamweight||Easton by KO|
|Valerie Letourneau vs. Elizabeth Phillips||Women's Bantamweight||Letourneau by decision|
|Daniel Sarafian vs. Kiichi Kunimoto||Welterweight||Kunimoto by decision|
|Main Card||10 p.m. ET|
|Ovince Saint Preux vs. Ryan Jimmo||Light Heavyweight||Saint Preux by KO|
|Andrei Arlovski vs. Brendan Schaub||Heavyweight||Schaub by KO|
|Ryan Bader vs. Rafael Cavalcante||Light Heavyweight||Bader by TKO|
|Rory MacDonald vs. Tyron Woodley||Welterweight||Woodley by TKO|
|(c) Demetrious Johnson vs. Ali Bagautinov||Flyweight Championship||Johnson by decision|
Card per UFC.com, Predictions by B.Mazique
Mighty Mouse's Speed Will Be Too Much for Bagautinov
While the challenger has ample power to stop anyone in the flyweight division, you can't hit what you can't catch.
Johnson's speed and defensive acumen are what make him one of the best fighters in the world. Bagautinov has never faced an opponent this fast and technically sound. He has a puncher's chance (no pun intended), but don't expect anything more than a dominant five-round display from the champion in a successful title defense.
Once that's done, perhaps he'll rematch with John "The Magician" Dodson. The ultra-explosive Dodson gave Johnson his most competitive fight back in Jan. 2013.
Earlier this month, Dodson stopped John Moraga to maintain his status as a top contender. Dodson believes the UFC is protecting Johnson, but he still sees himself as Mighty Mouse's ultimate conqueror. Dodson told Marc Raimondi of Fox Sports:
They can keep on giving Demetrious Johnson whoever they want to make him look like a better champion, make him look like he can be a spectacular fighter and cement his name in that division. It's gonna make me look better when I knock him out.
That is indeed an interesting bout, but Johnson must take care of business on Saturday first.
Woodley's Speed and Explosiveness Will Overwhelm MacDonald
This is a very difficult bout to predict because MacDonald has a three-inch height advantage and is the more technical striker, while Woodley is the quicker, stronger, more explosive fighter.
Woodley has fight-changing power and explosion. He has proven himself to be a solid wrestler too. His strength and quick-twitch athleticism are tough to game-plan for.
MacDonald will have a difficult time adjusting to the ground Woodley can cover. This will cost him dearly.
At times, MacDonald can be too technical and robotic. In this fight, Woodley's speed will take away MacDonald's ability and time to react and counter. A big punch will put him in peril, while ground-and-pound will lead to a finish and victory for Woodley.
Bader's Wrestling Dominance Will Lead Him to Victory
Though Cavalcante hails from Team Nogueira, a squad noted for its grappling prowess, he isn't as good on the ground as Bader.
This fight might look similar to Bader's bout with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. Cavalcante isn't as helpless on the mat as Rampage, but once Bader gains top position, Feijao will be at Darth's mercy.
This is a good matchup for Bader in a fight he must win to continue to be considered a serious contender at light heavyweight.
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