Tuesday, 17 June 2014

UFC 174: Johnson vs Bagautinov on BT Sport - TV Review

Canada and the Octagon is our next destination as we take a look at UFC 174, shown live in the early hours of this past Sunday morning on BT Sport here in Britain.

The show began in the light heavyweight division as Ovince Saint Preux went up against Ryan Jimmo.

The only fight that didn't go the distance was a somewhat interesting encounter. Both guys got in some good blows and kicks early on, but after a clinch against the cage things cooled down a little, and there were times when they seemed very reluctant to engage, although things got a little better towards the end of the round when OSP scored with a takedown.

OSP went on to have further success with an early takedown in the second, and a few moments later he took Jimmo's back. But just when he was going for an arm lock Jimmo called out that his arm was broken. The referee quickly stepped in to stop the fight, giving OSP the TKO win.

It was up to heavyweight for the next fight as the returning Andrei Arlovski took on Brendan Schaub.

I think the best way to describe this one would be disappointing. For the first two rounds very little of note happened. There were a few clinches against the fence that ultimately went nowhere, and Schaub landing with a big right uppercut. But apart from that most of the time the two fighters were sizing each other up. Schaub seemed intent on looking for that one big knockout blow, and although this left him open quite often Arlovski failed to capitalize each and every time.

The fight only really came to life when Schaub scored with a takedown in the third and went to work with the ground and pound. Arlovski didn't really do anything except close his guard until he looked up at the clock and saw that they were heading into the final minute. He then kicked Schaub off him, with both men ending the fight swinging a little.

Which meant that the judges were called into play. They couldn't agree as Arlovski took the split decision, a decision which confused Schaub somewhat.

More light heavyweight action followed as Ryan Bader faced Rafael Feijao.

Now this was better. Bader dominated the first two rounds. His striking looked clean and crisp, his takedowns looked great, and his ground and pound looked brutal at times, especially when he connected with a knee to the ribs in the first round.

Feijao, for his part, looked the shadow of the man who had once been the Strikeforce king. Such was Bader's dominance that there were times he was just plodding around the ring, making himself an easy target for Bader's blows, and it was only after he received a rollicking from his corner after the second round that he suddenly came to life in the third. It was only a brief comeback though, and although Bader wasn't quite as crisp as he'd looked in the previous rounds he did enough to control the fight until the final horn.

As for the judges, no surprises there as they gave everything to Bader.

The co-main event featured welterweight action as Rory MacDonald went up against Tyron Woodley.

This was a pretty enjoyable fight. To say that MacDonald put in a dominating performance would probably be an understatement. He controlled the action beautifully for the entire three rounds, mainly with his striking. His positional sense was perfect as he backed Woodley up against the fence for the majority of the fight, cutting down on his opponent's offensive options while also opening up a whole load of options for himself.

Woodley was basically shut down, and he was only really able to get off one shot at a time, and most of the time MacDonald saw them coming. It was only in the early stages of the third that Woodley managed to land anything of note, but by that time fatigue was becoming a factor in his game, and all he could do when MacDonald took the fight to the ground was tie him up and hope for the best.

Once again there were no surprises from the judges as MacDonald took the unanimous decision.

The main event saw Ali Bagautinov challenging Demetrious Johnson for the Flyweight title.

Once again the division's first and only champion delivered big time, dominating the action for the entire five rounds. It was the perfect performance from Johnson. His striking looked tremendous throughout, especially when he delivered knee and knee whenever he got Bagautinov in one of those numerous Thai clinches.

But perhaps the most impressive thing about Johnson's performance was that he managed to keep up the same pace throughout. Once again he was as quick in the fifth as he had been in the first, and once again it proved to be a vital part of his performance.

Bagautinov did have some success, particularly with his impressive looking takedowns. The only problem was that whenever he took his man down Johnson got back to his feet within seconds and regained control. In short, he made a very impressive fighter look rather ordinary.

But with no finish in sight the judges were called upon for the final time. Definitely no surprises here as they gave everything to Johnson.

In conclusion - well, you can't have a show where you enjoy every fight, can you?

You could describe this as a mixed bag of UFC action, but while the Arlovski/Schaub encounter left quite a bit to be desired the other four main card fights gave us some great performances, and they certainly delivered.

As for my prestigious fight of the night no-prize there were two main contenders, and while the performance of Demetrious Johnson earns an honourable mention I'm going for the welterweight clash between Rory MacDonald and Tyron Woodley.

So with all of that out of the way there's just one more thing left to do, and that's to give UFC 174 the thumbs up.