UFC 174 hit Vancouver on Saturday, and it did not provide a lot of excitement. It was a lackluster showing from the UFC, but it ultimately did provide a few talking points.
Demetrious Johnson retained his UFC flyweight title by defeating Ali Bagautinov by unanimous decision. In the co-main event, Rory MacDonald bested Tyron Woodley for 15 minutes to put his name right at the top of the list for a welterweight title shot.
There were nine other bouts on the card, but they did not deliver more than the two featured bouts.
Here are four key takeaways following the UFC's latest offering.
Mike Easton Is Not a Top Bantamweight
When Easton entered the UFC in 2011 he was considered one of the top 135-pound fighters in the world, and he quickly got off to a three-fight win streak. Things were looking promising. Then the UFC started to book him against consistent top-10 level talent.
Yves Jabouin gets the win over Mike Easton - that's four losses in a row for Easton. Wonder if he'll get another shot or that's it? #UFC174— Damon Martin (@DamonMartin) June 15, 2014
The wheels came flying off.
He has dropped four fights straight. Raphael Assuncao, Brad Pickett, TJ Dillashaw and Yves Jabouin have all gotten the best of him.
Easton's performance at UFC 174 may have been his worst showing to date. He is not a top bantamweight, and he may not even belong in the UFC following his four defeats. If nothing else, he's a gatekeeper for the top 15.
Underdogs Are Still Doing Work
Underdogs have done very well for themselves in 2014, and it continued at UFC 174. Through the first eight bouts of the night, five underdogs were victorious.
MMA is a very hard sport to bet on as anything can happen. One slip up can see a big underdog take advantage and win. However, if you roll the dice you may be able to hit quite often on these dogs.
Expect more underdogs to take down fights later this month when the UFC returns with another dual-card weekend.
Ryan Bader May Be Ready For Big Things
I am not quite sure Bader will ever be a title contender, but he is certainly ready for another step up the UFC ladder.
Really a complete performance by Ryan Bader. Still a beast and relevant @ 205 lbs. #UFC174— Jon Anik (@Jon_Anik) June 15, 2014
He is a winner of three of his last four fights, and his one loss came against title contender Glover Teixeira—a fight in which he was close to ending, but got caught being over-aggressive.
Why is Bader ready for bigger things?
His UFC 174 performance showed quality fight IQ. He didn't try to appease fans by throwing his heavy-handed strikes. He had a game plan and stuck to it. He stepped in the cage, dominated the action and took the victory like a quality fighter should.
Bader did a good job of mixing up his attacks. If he continues to fight like that, he very well could inch his way up the UFC rankings.
Demetrious Johnson Is Excellent
This is something we already knew, but coming out of UFC 174, you have to notice just how good Johnson is.
He is an incredible talent. Many talk about his speed, and while that is exceptional as well, it is his technique that is truly marvelous. He is virtually pristine inside the cage. His blend of striking and grappling creates a laundry list of issues for his opposition.
Johnson is simply phenomenal.
My GSP and Demetrious Johnson domination comparison comes with that "His fights are boring" complaint. GSP was just a bigger star.— Andreas Hale (@AndreasHale) June 15, 2014
It is unfortunate that the UFC cannot generate high-level interest in his fights because he is truly one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet.