UFC 174: Grades for Every Main Card Fighter
Granted, the last four fights ended in decisions, but each fight on the night's main card had its moments, highlighted by another convincing win in the co-main event from 24-year-old Canadian Rory MacDonald.
Here are grades for each of the five bouts on the main card.
Ovince Saint Preux
After narrowly taking Round 1 on all three judges' scorecards, up-and-coming light heavyweight Ovince Saint Preux baited Canadian veteran Ryan Jimmo perfectly for a kimura 2:10 into Round 2.
Saint Preux floored Jimmo early in the second round before allowing the former Maximum Fighting Championships light heavyweight champ to float to his knees.
There, Saint Preux peppered Jimmo with punches until he gave the former University of Tennessee football player an opening to grab a rolling kimura.
Saint Preux's shoulder lock caused Jimmo to verbally submit to referee Kevin Dornan.
Thirty-two-year-old Canadian Ryan Jimmo kept pace with explosive up-and-comer Ovince Saint Preux in the first round of the first bout on the main card.
Unfortunately for Jimmo, Saint Preux's superior grappling ability and athleticism proved a problem for the former Maximum Fighting Championship's light heavyweight champ midway through the second round.
Jimmo avoided getting his back taken by Saint Preux, only to roll to his knees and allow the former University of Tennessee football player to slap on a rolling kimura.
Jimmo verbally tapped to referee Kevin Dornan to drop his third bout in six UFC outings.
In a decision that could have went either way, Andrei Arlovski won his first fight in the UFC since 2008 with a less-than-convincing split-decision win over Brendan Schaub in the second fight on the main card.
After a relatively uneventful first round that could have went either way, Arlovski opened a small cut under Schaub's left eye in the second round with a grazing punch.
With the fight up for grabs, Arlovski got taken down but apparently outworked Schaub in the third round to capture a split-decision win.
In a much anticipated bout, Schaub evidently didn't impress the bout's three judges enough, dropping a split-decision win to Arlovski in his first UFC scrap since 2008.
Schaub and Arlovski both opened up in the latter stages of Round 1, although neither man was accurate with winging strikes.
Arlovski opened a cut under Schaub's left eye with a grazing punch early in Round 2. Schaub landed his best punch of the fight and tagged the former UFC heavyweight champ with a lead right uppercut later in a round that could have gone to either man.
Schaub scored a takedown early in Round 3 but mustered little offense from Arlovski's guard in the follow-up. Arlovski managed to get back to his feet and finish the evenly contested bout in an exchange with Schaub.
From the get-go, Ryan Bader imposed his will on venomous Brazilian Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante.
Bader controlled the distance and the bout's pace, scoring with takedowns and ground-and-pound seamlessly throughout the fight.
Bader scored in and out of the clinch and did damage on the ground with punches and knees.
Aside from a few winging shots, Cavalcante looked ineffective against the former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler.
Ferocious Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante rarely goes down without a fight.
However, in Saturday's main-card bout with Bader, Cavalcante looked downright outmatched for the entirety of the fight.
Bader landed takedowns and was effective with ground-and-pound throughout the bout. He also neutralized Feijao's potent striking game, using constant movement and his never-ending gas tank to slowly wear Cavalcante down.
Feijao deservedly lost every round to the streaking Bader, who's won three of his last four fights.
For the second time in 2014, Rory MacDonald looked like a viable contender for the welterweight title.
Four months after beating Demian Maia at UFC 170, MacDonald outclassed and outworked powerhouse Tyron Woodley en route to a unanimous decision in the night's co-main event.
MacDonald seemingly stole "The Chosen One's" thunder early in the fight when he popped directly to his feet following a Woodley takedown and came up swinging.
MacDonald deservedly won each round, and in the process, made Woodley look mortal for the first time since losing to Jake Shields at UFC 161.
The momentum that Tyron Woodley built in wins over Josh Koscheck and Carlos Condit seemed to dwindle as his co-main event bout with Rory MacDonald waged on.
From the opening bell, MacDonald assumed the role of the aggressor, stalking the typically more active Woodley and cornering the former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler on several occasions.
Woodley floored MacDonald momentarily with a takedown late in the first round, only to watch the Canadian pop back to his feet to win the round.
Not only did Woodley struggle to find his range, he also failed to keep up with MacDonald's tireless pace, even succumbing to one of the Canadian's takedown attempts in the third round.
Woodley either failed to devise a winning game plan, or he failed to execute one. Either way, he's got to reevaluate things and come back stronger.
For five rounds, Bagautinov showed heart and promise against flyweight champ Johnson in the night's main event.
When the final buzzer sounded, though, it was obvious Johnson was better than Bagautinov in every phase of the game.
Bagautinov got outstruck 164-66, including 133-36 in the significant strikes department. And although Bagautinov stuffed each of Johnson's four takedown attempts, he only succeeded in taking Mighty Mouse down twice in 12 attempts.
While Bagautinov clearly displayed the heart of a champion, he showed why Johnson was a 6.6-to-1 favorite, according to MMA Odds Breaker via 5 Dimes Sportsbook.
Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson did what pundits believed he would do and handled fourth-ranked Ali Bagautinov to prove why he deserves his No. 4 ranking on the UFC's pound-for-pound list in the night's main event.
Johnson not only outstruck Puncher King 164-66, including 133-36 in the significant strikes department, he also stuffed 10 of the Russian's 12 takedown attempts.
Johnson controlled the distance and delivered timely punches, kicks and knees, particularly in the clinch, for the better part of five rounds. He wore an occasional punches and kicks from Bagautinov, but he showed little chinks in his armor.
One thing's for sure following his latest feat, Johnson deserves several months off and a more formidable opponent in his next defense of the flyweight title.
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