It's bold prediction time for UFC 174. The event will be Saturday at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The main event is a flyweight bout for the UFC title. Champion Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson will defend against Ali "Puncher" Bagautinov.
The co-feature is a welterweight clash that could have title-shot implications. Rory" Ares" MacDonald takes on Tyron "The Chosen One" Woodley.
Let's talk about predictions for these two bouts and the other fights on the main card.
Picking winners is a tough deal on most cards, but as UFC commentator Jon Anik attests, it is even more difficult with this card.
Top to bottom, UFC 174 is one of the most evenly matched cards in recent memory, says Vegas. Only two guys are more than -180 favorites.— Jon Anik (@Jon_Anik) June 12, 2014
While the predicted winner of each fight may not qualify as a "bold" prognostication, the specificity of the prediction should.
In my Mike Goldberg voice: "here weee go!"
Mighty Mouse Will Romp in a Clear Unanimous-Decision Win
Speed and defense are the name of the game for Johnson. Though he proved he has the ability to strike with power when he stopped Joseph Benavidez with one lightning quick right hand in his last defense, Johnson's ability to make opponents miss is his best attribute.
Against Bagautinov, the champion will enjoy a significant speed advantage.
The challenger has big power, but Johnson's speed and elusiveness will allow him to frustrate Bagautinov all night. Taking Johnson down is usually a futile move. He's extremely skilled and squirmy on the mat.
Despite his smallish frame, he's also very strong.
Johnson will not only retain, but he'll pitch a near shutout in the process.
The judges' scorecards should look something like this: 50-45 (twice) and 49-46, all in favor of Johnson.
Woodley Will Overpower MacDonald
This my friends, is a bold prediction. MacDonald has long been viewed as nearly perfect from a technical standpoint. He's run into a couple buzz saws in the form of Carlos Condit and Robbie Lawler, but has handled almost everyone else with relative ease.
Woodley is 3-1 in the UFC, having lost a split decision to Jake Shields in June 2013. However, he owns victories in his career over the likes of Condit, Josh Koscheck, Jay Hieron, Paul Daley and Tarec Saffiedine.
He seems to get better and more explosive with each fight.
The explosiveness is the trait that MacDonald will have the most trouble with on Saturday. Ares likes to use his length advantage over opponents as a primary weapon. Speed is a great counter for reach.
Woodley has plenty of that.
On top of being the faster fighter, he should also prove to be the most powerful. He has night-changing pop in his right hand, just ask Hieron.
Woodley closes space so quickly, MacDonald won't be able to counter him.
In the second round, Woodley will land a hard strike that sends MacDonald to the mat. Before he can get his bearings, Woodley will pounce and pound him out for a second-round TKO victory.
Bader's Wrestling Will Be Too Much for Cavalcante
Despite the fact that Rafael Cavalcante trains with Team Noguiera, his grappling isn't on the same level as Ryan Bader's.
Cavalcante is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but he prefers to stand and trade. If he can engage Bader in a stand-up war, he'll have a better chance to win.
Bader is a veteran who knows how his own limitations and can best assess where he'll have an advantage.
Against Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Bader knew a stand-up battle was not in his best interest, so he took Jackson down every chance he had.
Bader hit four-of-nine takedown attempts against Jackson and dominated the bout en route to a unanimous decision win.
Against Cavalcante, he'll use his wrestling to control the bout, but because he needs to make a statement, he'll look to pound out Cavalcante from top position.
Bank on another second-round stoppage and a TKO win for Bader.
Brendan Schaub is Too Skilled for The Pit Bull
It's good to see Andrei Arlovski back in the Octagon, but Schaub is going to make sure he doesn't last very long in this bout.
In a Q&A session with his Twitter followers, Schaub said this about his approach:
A5 I don't plan for the fights to end so quickly the longer the better for my fighting style but KO's happen lol #XFINITYDreamJob— Brendan Schaub (@BrendanSchaub) June 12, 2014
"Big Brown" has steadily added to his repertoire. That's the reason he can be so ambiguous about his strategy for a fight.
On Saturday, a KO will happen.
It probably won't happen early, as Schaub will respect the punching power of the Pit Bull. In the third round, when the veteran starts to tire, Schaub will take advantage.
Big Brown will stop an exhausted Arlovski with body kicks and ground-and-pound.
OSP Will Smash The Big Deal
Ovince Saint Preux is a monstrous striker who recently showed his grappling prowess.
He beat submission specialist Nikita Krylov at UFC 171 with a shoulder choke, but he's at his best when he's standing.
Jimmo has big power as well. He decked Anthony Perosh with one shot in the first round in his UFC debut and did the Robot in the middle of the Octagon.
Because he does have striking prowess and he's fighting in his home country, he'll want to make a statement. That approach will get him knocked out.
OSP's length and explosiveness will tranquilize Jimmo with a well-placed head kick in the first round. It might just earn him a Performance of the Night.
Follow me. I dig combat sports.