Alternate-reality prognostications for UFC 174
Will Demetrious Johnson successfully defend his UFC flyweight title? Will the Rory MacDonald-Tyron Woodley winner earn the next welterweight title shot?
Really, we have no freakin’ idea. Do we look like we have ESP to you?
But here, below, is what could happen at UFC 174 on Saturday in Vancouver, you know if you really use your imagination:
Ovince St. Preux vs. Ryan Jimmo
Jimmo, either the most exciting fighter in the UFC or the most boring depending on when you’ve seen him, is a Canada native and gets a nice ovation from the fans. So does St. Preux, but only after Bruce Buffer calls him "OSP" during introductions and the fans wishfully believe it to be "GSP."
This one becomes a grapple-fest really quickly with St. Preux gaining the advantage with superior strength and athleticism. The guy did play football at the University of Tennessee, back when the Vols were actually relevant. OSP ends up winning by lackluster decision. The crow boos some more, but press row is delighted, because nobody wants to see Jimmo do The Robot anymore.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Brendan Schaub
"The Pitbull" is back — bushy beard, fang mouthpiece and all. The crowd goes wild when he comes out. Arlovski remains a fan favorite, even though most probably figure he was frozen in an iceberg in Siberia since the last time he fought in the UFC six years ago. Maybe he’ll adopt "Encino Man" as his next nickname. There are way too many dudes named "Pitbull" anyway.
Bruce Buffer announces Schaub for the first time by the nickname "Big Brown," the one given to him on "The Fighter & The Kid" podcast. Schaub is pretty big, but the California sun hasn’t made him all that brown, to be honest. Maybe "Big Bronze" would be more appropriate. Arlovski puts up a really good fight, but the younger, faster, quicker Schaub ends up pulling out a decision. Schaub’s "Fighter & The Kid" co-host Bryan Callen comes into the Octagon to celebrate afterward and Arlovski just lays him out flat with one punch. The crowd cheers wildly. No one is upset. UFC president Dana White even gives Arlovski a Performance of the Night bonus for the KO.
Ryan Bader vs. Rafael Cavalcante
Cavalcante really wanted Daniel Cormier in July, the fight that was initially planned. Then, he saw Cormier’s fight with Dan Henderson at UFC 173 and was more than happy to fight Bader instead. "Feijao" has even more urgency than usual to finish this one (and all of his fights have ended in finishes) because the World Cup is on. So Cavalcante comes out firing and Bader immediately takes him down.
This does not make "Feijao" happy. Like his buddy Anderson Silva against Yushin Okami the first time, Cavalcante upkicks Bader while Bader is grounded. Referee Steve Mazzagatti was too busy swiping right on Tinder, so he misses it. Bader is hurt and "Feijao" pounces for the finish. Dana White is irate and Twitter goes nuts. Mazzagatti bolts from Rogers Arena, gets his Canadian citizenship and starts a new career as an ice fisherman.
Rory MacDonald vs. Tyron Woodley
At media day, MacDonald tells reporters he wishes he could grow a "hipster" beard like the one Woodley is sporting, but the best he can do is a soul patch. When told of MacDonald’s comments, Woodley just shakes his head. Woodley says he wants to win by knockout as quickly as possible, while MacDonald said he would prefer not to fight and just settle their disagreement by debate. Or maybe chess.
The fight starts off fast with Woodley pressuring with boxing and wrestling and MacDonald trying to counter. The hometown crowd starts to get behind MacDonald, which confuses him because no one in the United States ever cheers for him. It lights a fire under "Ares" and he becomes more aggressive, even taking Woodley down at one point and landing ground and pound. The fight goes to the judges and MacDonald wins a split decision win.
Woodley is angry. MacDonald, wearing black-rimmed glasses and a snazzy overcoat instead of an MMA t-shirt, is ambivalent. He just ever-so-subtly shows a smile and it’s gone as fast as a Molson in the Rogers Arena upper deck.
Demetrious Johnson vs. Ali Bagautinov
Think this fight was hard for the UFC to sell? Bagautinov says more interesting things in English to reporters than Johnson does and he doesn’t even speak the language. The fight is exciting, though, as ones involving "Mighty Mouse" usually are. Johnson has a clear speed advantage, but Bagautinov hangs in the wrestling game with his sambo base. He is hardly blown out and even catches Johnson a few times with punches.
In the end, "Mighty Mouse" wins by decision and solidifies himself once again as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. At the postfight press conference, Johnson says he’ll fight anyone next, has no response for John Dodson’s trash talk and talks at length about working hard. Three media members nod off (won’t mention any names) and UFC president Dana White has to swap out his pink Vitaminwater-like substance for some Xyience. And then chases it with some NOS.
Bagautinov is relatively happy despite the loss. He says in Russian that at least he went the distance unlike "that Khabilov guy," which the interpreter translates to "it was good fight."