UFC 174 heads to Rogers Centre at Vancouver, Canada, where Demetrious Johnson will look to defend his UFC flyweight title for a fourth time against highly touted Russian Ali Bagautinov in the main event. With Johnson riding a five fight win streak and Bagautinov winning 11 in a row, this card will host two of the very best 125-pounders on the planet.
The co-main event will shape the welterweight title picture as #2 ranked Rory MacDonald squares off with #3 ranked Tyron Woodley in a crucial three round battle. Both fighters will look to emerge victorious impressively, and – despite Dana White stating otherwise – the victor could go on to fight Johny Hendricks next.
Ryan Bader will hope to put together a two fight winning streak after going 2-2 in his last four, but faces a dangerous opponent in former Strikeforce light heavyweight kingpin Rafael Feijao. Both fighters are on the cusp of contendership, meaning each fighter will need to make a statement in order to finally move into the upper echelon of the 205lbs division.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski returns to the promotion for the first time since 2008, and will meet a dangerous striker-cum-grappler in Brendan Schaub. Arlovski has lost just once in his last seven outings, while Schaub is riding an impressive two fight win streak where he showed his full arsenal of attacks. Kicking off the main card will be a light heavyweight tilt between Canadian Ryan Jimmo and ever-improving Ovince St. Preux, with Jimmo looking to overtake the dangerous St. Preux in the 205lbs rankings.
Here is a play-by-play of the full card, kicking off with the UFC Fight Pass preliminary card, then the FX prelims, followed by the main card on pay-per-view.
Main Card: Pay-per-view
Demetrious Johnson vs. Ali Bagautinov
Round 1 - They touch gloves and we are underway. Inside leg kick from DJ. Bagautinov has the centre and is flat footed, feinting with that back leg and arm. Johnson now taking the middle and he’s pressing forward, landing a body kick, and again, before avoiding Bagautinov’s attack. Nice body kick by Ali. Nice job by DJ at getting out of the way of Bagautinov’s combination there. A leg kick by DJ. He’s hunting him down, lands a leg kick and feints the takedown. Tentative start, but that is somewhat expected. The Puncher with a three fight combination that misses. Leg kick by DJ, who stuffs the Bagautinov takedown attempt but is now pressed against the fence in the clinch. Knees to the body from DJ, and Bagautinov having a hard time getting the fight to the mat so far. Nice short punch by Ali there, and a knee to the body. Warning for inactivity from the referee. Short right by Ali. Johnson turns the clinch around now, and a huge series of knees to the body from the muay thai clinch. Now to the head. Ali trying to get the takedown, and he does. But Johnson straight back up, giving up his back. Tough one to score.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Johnson.
Round 2 - Spinning kick from Johnson misses, but leg kick lands. Nice leg kick there by DJ, a lot more power in that one. He shoots in, stuffed easily but Bagautinov gets a knee for his trouble. Ali getting the clinch but plum from Johnson, who lands a knee then disengages. Body kick misses from The Puncher. Leg kicks tallying up now for Johnson, who has bloodied Bagautinov’s nose a little. High kick by Johnson now, then a nice body kick. He slips and rips there. He’s just too fast for Bagautinov. Leg kick, then moves just out of harms way. Johnson with a lot more volume, and he tagged Bagautinov there. More leg kicks. Bagautinov’s left leg is very red. High kick hits Johnson there. Knee attempted by DJ as Bagautinov gets the clinch and holds him against the fence. More body knees from DJ from this position, but double underhooks preferred this time. They’re exchanging knees to the body, DJ certainly getting the better thusfar. Bagautinov drops down but Johnson working on a kimura here and landing short elbows, stuffing the takedown attempts. Beautiful knee by Johnson. He somehow isn’t taken down there. Another knee from the clinch. He stuffs another takedown and spins the clinch around. Another solid round from the champ.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Johnson (20-18 Johnson).
Round 3 - Johnson with more of the same in this third round, and Bagautinov doesn’t look like he has an answer for it. His attacks seem in slow motion compared to DJ’s. Big head kick by Johnson there. Ali gets the clinch again but eats more body knees, returning the favour but not quite as damaging. Little happening from the clinch here. Johnson drags Bagautinov away and lands a big knee. They separate finally. Johnson stalking Bagautinov down now. Big body kick, and a couple of stiff shots from DJ. But a nice counter by Ali. Johnson is so comfortable and loose and he’s making Bagautinov guess. He’s just so quick. In and out. 42-5 in distance strikes for Johnson. DJ is so elusive compared to Bagautinov, who is just winging shots that are failing to hit the target. Now a slam by Bagautinov! But Johnson straight back up and gets the muay thai clinch. A couple of knees there. Clinch again, and some nice short shots exchanged. DJ really liking that muay thai plum, but unable to land anything significant from it on that occasion. Bagautinov catches the leg and attempts a takedown but DJ stuffs and lands a big knee. Bagautinov with a lovely takedown but DJ scrambles and ends up on top. He gets the clinch and lands some big knees to end the round.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Johnson (30-27 Johnson).
Round 4 - Championship rounds. Johnson with more leg kicks and movement, and that has been the story of this fight. Nice head kick attempted by DJ, who then dodges Bagautinov’s attack. Nice disguised left by Johnson there. A big shot in but Bagautinov stuffs, eating a couple of shots though on the exit. Johnson misses a big overhand right. Bagautinov letting his guard down now, perhaps through tiredness or frustration. Body kick by each fighter. Lovely combination from Johnson who evades the counter. Bagautinov is landing very little and putting a lot into his strikes, he’s perplexed. Big body kick, then leg kick from Johnson. And then a big knee as he closes the distance. DJ putting on a show hitherto. Good body kick by Bagautinov there, and answered by Johnson. Bagautinov landed a right there. Johnson slips while attempting a kick and almost gets clipped. Body knee again and Johnson decides to get into a clinch battle. 1 minute remaining. More knees to the head from the plum clinch, he’s having his way with Bagautinov. Takedown avoided by Johnson, who then drags Bagautinov to the ground and gets the back. Just overwhelming.
Cooper scores round 4 10-9 Johnson (40-36 Johnson).
Round 5 - Bagautinov needs a finish, simple as that. He’s capable, but certainly the more fatigued of the two. Bagautinov misses a fastball. Johnson with a left-right, backing Bagautinov up. He feints for the leg trip then lands a nice combination, before getting the clinch and landing more knees. He avoids Bagautinov’s counter and gets the clinch again. Bagautinov looking for a takedown, but having little success. DJ with the muay thai clinch, landing left knee after right knee and so on. He drops down for a double leg but Bagautinov avoids. Clinch. He’s just repeating the same process. Takedown attempt from Bagautinov is stuffed once again. Johnson hurt him there. Big combination. Knee after knee by DJ. He hurt Bagautinov there, and attempted a wheel kick which misses. Bagautinov now has him against the cage in the clinch, but does nothing with it. Another knee from Johnson, who has outstruck Bagautinov massively every round. Left high kick, then front kick from DJ. Great creativity. 15 seconds remaining. Johnson stuffing the takedown and ending the fight with a knee in the muay thai clinch. Strategic win for Demetrious Johnson, who is wiping out the flyweight division quietly but deadly.
Cooper scores round 5 10-9 Johnson (50-45 Johnson).
Result: Johnson via unanimous decision (50-45 x3).
Complete dominance from DJ, a rematch with Dodson should be next.
Rory MacDonald vs. Tyron Woodley
I am excited for this one, this will shape the welterweight title picture in one way of another.
Round 1 - MacDonald comes out aggressive and lands a front kick, Woodley missing a blitz and the Canadian stalking from the get-go. Woodley with a right, getting the clinch and landing some rights to the body and a couple of knees. Another hard knee up against the fence. Foot stomps, too. Woodley overpowering in this position. They break. Jab by MacDonald, then a question mark kick. Nice body shot by Woodley. They’re hand fighting, MacDonald missing a high kick. Woodley does a good job of getting out of the way of that attack, then gets the clinch. Body kick. And returned by MacDonald. Woodley with a short left but nice kick lands by Rory there. Woodley holding McDonald against the cage and doing little in that position. They separate. Rory with a nice combination but Woodley catches the kick and lands a couple of rights before getting a takedown. McDonald straight back up and lands a big body kick, then a front kick. And another. Brutal body kicks by MacDonald, too. Woodley against the cage and looks like he’s tiring here. McDonald with a few jabs, then the high kick blocked. MacDonald with a lot of volume, and uncharacteristically aggressive in the first. Good round.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 MacDonald.
Round 2 - MacDonald trying to establish his patented jab. Axe kick attempted. Rory can be so creative. He went for a takedown but never committed to it. Leg kick by Tyron. Woodley constantly on the back foot, this is an odd performance so far. Hard leg kick, but good counter by MacDonald. Another question mark kick by Rory. Great technique. Body shot, then a nice kick before a right to the head. Woodley’s attacks all blocked, and a lacklustre takedown attempt. Lovely combination by MacDonald, who is starting to light Woodley up now. Overwhelming and outclassing thusfar, and this is a much better Rory MacDonald. Woodley’s attacks are always just a little too short, while McDonald is landing a lot of his attempts. Stiff jab by Woodley, but not enough. Nice doubling up on the left by MacDonald. The leg kick of Woodley is the only thing working. MacDonald with a body-head combination, picture perfect. Head kick now. Stiff jab once again, and Woodley tries to return the favour but unable to. Woodley is unnaturally hesitant and getting outstruck. A big overhand right by Rory, that hurt Woodley. He’s mocking Woodley now, and he has another round under his belt.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 MacDonald (20-18 MacDonald).
Round 3 - Tyron now a little more aggressive and winging big shots. Perhaps he’s saved his energy. He clips Rory there. Jabbing now, Woodley doing better in the early phase of this third. Could this have been Woodley lulling MacDonald into a false sense of security? Or is he now gassed? Body kick by Woodley, who is now backing up. MacDonald with nice combinations, and a spinning back kick which strays low. John McCarthy disagrees and calls for them to continue. Body shot lands by MacDonald. Woodley countered with ease there. And a takedown by Rory! Wow. Full guard. Nothing too notable from this position, with Woodley just controlling the wrist of MacDonald and just stalling from the bottom. MacDonald trying to posture up and land big. A left lands by MacDonald but wasn’t flush. Full guard again. MacDonald in full mount! This is huge! He opts for side control to trap the arm of Woodley. He’s unloading with big left hands on Woodley, and overwhelming his opponent. Absolute domination from Ares.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 MacDonald (30-27 MacDonald).
Result: MacDonald via unanimous decision (30-27 x3).
Rory did look great, but that was also down to Woodley looking terrible. Possibly the worst performance of Tyron’s career, and he proved in this fight that he didn’t deserve a title shot after all. Hats off to MacDonald, who dominated a tough opponent and puts himself in line for a shot at the title in the future.
Ryan Bader vs. Rafael Feijao
I really hope this one makes up for the fifteen minutes I spent watching that last fight. #9 Bader meets #12 Feijao in a fight that, on paper, has potential for fireworks. Both have knockout power, Bader has a wrestling advantage and Feijao has solid jiu-jitsu. This could be good.
Round 1 - Leg kick by Feijao. Bader with a lead left hook misses, and Feijao misses a leg kick. Feijao covering up as Bader goes for a 1-2. Bader with a single leg, but Feijao works his way up, giving up his back in the process. Bader kneeing the thighs, a lot of power in those. He lifts Feijao up and drags it to the ground, but Feijao back up immediately and in back clinch once again. Bader keeps dragging it down, but Feijao doing a good job defensively thusfar. More knees to the thighs of Feijao, and they could pay dividends in the later rounds. Bader is so powerful. They separate and Bader attempts a right on the exit. Big right attempted by Bader, who just moves out of the way of Feijao’s counter. That had cruel intentions. Bader countered coming in. Feijao stalking him and lands a left hook. Both land a stiff right jab. Jab by Bader, then a big double leg into half guard. That was great work by the two time All American. Good short shots from ‘Darth’, with Feijao giving up his back, but Bader not getting any hooks in yet. Big shots by Bader. His ground and pound is lethal. Huge knee to the body by Bader ends the round, and a big one for the American.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Bader.
Round 2 - Huge spinning back kick by Feijao, great technique. Head kick blocked by Feijao, and he then stuffs a big shot in by Bader. Better from the former Strikeforce champ. Good head movement to avoid Bader’s jab. Feijao lands a right, then gets the clinch. They separate, and Bader does the exact same. He has Feijao against the fence, more warnings of inactivity by Lavigne. Separation. Feijao stalking Bader down now, but Bader moving around and jabbing at will. Power double straight into Feijao’s full guard. Nice short elbow. Feijao once again giving up his back to give up, and Bader accepts the position gladly with some big knees to the thigh and tailbone of Feijao. He’s offering nothing in this position and Bader in full control. Feijao gets up and they separate. Bader circling outside and gets out of the way of a huge left from Feijao. Nice combination by Bader backs Feijao up. Stiff jab, Bader using good movement, and a nice combination there. Feijao very laboured and misses a overhand left. Bader misses that takedown, and Feijao lands a straight right. Overhand right from Bader, who is the much fresher of the two. He circles away from that left, and lands to the body again. Nice back elbow then body punch from Bader, who then shoots in for a big double leg and is in the guard once again. Another big round for Bader, and Feijao needs to do something huge in the third round.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Bader.
Round 3 - Feijao with a huge left and right there! And he stuffs a takedown attempt by Bader. And stuffs another. Good job right there. He swings for the fences again with lefts and rights, none landing cleanly there, but he now has top control after a stuffed takedown. Bader works for a takedown and Feijao greets him with some hard short elbows. Another one. They separate, Bader falls down. He then shoots in for a takedown but stuffed once again. 3 minutes remaining in the third. Separation after inactivity in the clinch. Feijao pushing forward once again, but eats a left. Bader with a deep shot, Feijao avoiding again. But Bader is persistent and finally gets it, getting half guard and landing some short shots to the body and head of Cavalcante. Nice elbows to the ribs of Feijao, Bader is really tired though. 90 seconds remaining for Feijao to try and win this fight, but he’s not going to do it from this position. I don’t think Feijao has the energy at this point in the fight. Some more ground and pound by Bader inside the guard, he’s not doing anything significant but clearly winning this fight. His wrestling has looked great, even if he hasn’t set the world on fire with that performance.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Bader (30-27 Bader).
Result: Bader via unanimous decision (30-27 x3).
Just overwhelming by Bader, and he cruised to victory. A finish would have been nice, but he looked really impressive and made Feijao look amateur. Not sure where Feijao goes from here, but I’d like to see Bader fight Rashad Evans next.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Brendan Schaub
Arlovski makes his first UFC appearance since 2008, going 8-5 (1 NC) since, going unbeaten in seven of his last eight. The former heavyweight champion will take on Brendan Schaub, who has won two in a row and showed off much improved wrestling and grappling in the process. I struggle to see this one going the full fifteen minutes. Schaub is now dubbed ‘Big Brown’ rather than ‘Hybrid’.
Round 1 - Arlovski takes the centre, and comes in with a couple of lefts before getting Schaub in the clinch. Over-under for the Belarusian, who lands a couple of knees and seems to be trying to wear his opponent out from this position. Thigh knees exchanged and little else. They separate. Huge right, then left by Schaub. That certainly woke Arlovski up. Leg kick by Pitbull. Nice short shot as Schaub came in, and Arlovski has him against the cage, once again working the legs. He needs to do more when in this position, though, as McCarthy is warning about inactivity once again. Schaub explodes and they separate. Schaub with a huge uppercut, then misses the follow-ups. Overhand right by Schaub grazes Arlovski’s chin. Body shot by Arlovski, but doesn’t follow it up. Clinch once again, Schaub lands a short shot on the exit. Arlovski hasn’t landed much, while Schaub is doing the better on the feet. Overhand right, then a left attempted by Schaub but none landed too cleanly. Clinch again from Arlovski. He hasn’t done much with it, but he’s been controlling Schaub this whole round. Arlovski lands a short right, and Schaub counters with a huge swing on the exit. Spinning back kick misses by Arlovski, who stuffs Schaub’s counter takedown.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Arlovski.
Round 2 - Opening strike of the round is a kick that strays low on Schaub. Brief separation, and action resumes. Well, I say action… Arlovski lands a short shot while Schaub attempts the overhand right again. And once more. He’s making it obvious, though. Arlovski stalking him down, and lands a nice body shot before an uppercut. That’s better by him. Clinch again for a short while. Schaub misses the overhand right again. He then glances him with an overhand left. Head kick blocked by Arlovski. Lovely short left by Arlovski as Schaub comes in trying to land the overhand right again. He keeps trying the same technique and Arlovski is starting to recognise it. Schaub once again attempts the overhand right and Arlovski weaves out of the way. Schaub gets the clinch and has Arlovski against the cage, who reverses the position. Schaub with the double but great job by Arlovski at getting up imminently. Each swing and miss there. Neither fighter attempting combinations. Hesitant and disappointing fight so far with less than a minute left in the second. Schaub swings and misses again, they get the clinch momentarily and separate – zzz. Schaub tags him with the uppercut, then gets the clinch. Better from him, he needs to mix it up a lot more. Good combination by Arlovski, who lands an overhand right at the end of the round.
Cooper scores round 2 10-10.
Round 3 - This really hasn’t lived up to the hype. Schaub gets a body punch in, then just misses with a huge overhand right. He has a mouse under his left eye. Schaub misses a right and left overhand combination, he’s so susceptible to counters. Arlovski with a good left staggers Schaub. Accidental headbutt stops the action momentarily. Arlovski is strangely hesitant, it may be nerves – strange for a former champion. Clinch again, but Schaub gets the better of it and lands a double leg. Arlovski gets full guard, but this is big for Big Brown. Ground and pound by Schaub, mixing it up to the body and head. He’s trying to land a knockout blow but failing. His pass attempt is stuffed easily. Schaub unloading to Arlovski’s body, but the Belarusian looking unfazed by them. Short elbows and punches by Schaub but he’s slowed down and is landing laboured shots. These winging punch attempts by Schaub are slow and horrible to watch from a technique standpoint. This is just dull. Over a minute remains and neither fighter proving that they want to win. Hammer fist lands by Schaub, that’s better. But Arlovski explodes and is back to his feet. Schaub immediately gets the clinch, but Arlovski turns it around. Separation. 30 seconds left. They each swing, but none land too cleanly. What a poor fight from two sub-par heavyweights. Schaub’s jaw may be broken, the right side of his face has swollen up significantly.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Schaub (29-29).
Result: Arlovski via split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29).
Arlovski asks the crowd not to boo him, says how much he misses the UFC, fans etc. But he certainly didn’t show it. He really shouldn’t have got that decision, but Schaub didn’t really earn a win either. A really poor display from both fighters, and I won’t be watching that one again.
Ryan Jimmo vs. Ovince St. Preux
Nice light heavyweight contest to open this main card, St. Preux is ranked #12 in the division while Jimmo is fighting in front of his home nation. OSP is 3-0 inside the Octagon, Jimmo has gone 3-2. Will we see the robot celebration, or will OSP get his fifth win in a row? St-Preux the -160 favourite.
Round 1 - Nice leg kick from Jimmo opens the action. Orthodox Jimmo vs. southpaw OSP. OSP with the body kick, that was heavy. Jimmo moves forward but misses, and OSP fires right back. He’s pushing forward and landing big shots. Big left by St. Preux rocks Jimmo. Jimmo gets the clinch, OSP against the cage trying to defend the takedown while landing short shots. Jimmo unable to take him down, OSP is outsizing him. Short right lands by Jimmo. OSP spins it around and now Jimmo trying to defend. Trip attempted by OSP but unsuccessful, he drops down to a single leg momentarily. Spun around once again. OSP stuffing Jimmo, then they separate. Jimmo using the karate stance, bobbing up and down. St-Preux misses on that occasion, and his head kick is avoided. Body kick from Jimmo, then a leg kick returned by OSP. Both seem tentative. OSP with an overhand right but very telegraphed. Body kick is countered by Jimmo, well time overhand right. Body kick by Jimmo, that’s lovely technique. And another, then a right low kick. He looks a lot more settled now. OSP stalking him down and lands a left. Huge takedown by St. Preux, but Jimmo works his way up. OSP drags him back down, and now has the back of Jimmo. Great way to end the round for St. Preux, who lands a couple of short shots as Jimmo works his way up.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 St. Preux
Round 2 - Leg kick by Jimmo, then a nice sneaky right. OSP gets the clinch, then pushes Jimmo back to the centre. Big left by OSP but Jimmo counters with a right. Head kick checked by Jimmo. Jimmo with a leg kick but OSP uses it to get the takedown, working his way into half guard. Now mount. Damn. Now the back. That was quick and this is a horrid position for Jimmo with this huge man working the ground game with over half of the round remaining. OSP with just one hook in, he may be working on an arm triangle instead. But not anymore. He tries to unload. Jimmo’s arm is broken! He was screaming it. Damn. Unfortunate way for that fight to end, and Jimmo looked good up until that point.
Result: St. Preux via submission (verbal tap) at 2:10 in second round.
Fourth UFC win for Ovince St. Preux, but I wasn’t quite as impressed as previous appearances. Jimmo looked pretty good in this fight, and he has his second UFC loss due to injury. Very unfortunate.
Preliminary Card: FX
Daniel Sarafian vs. Kiichi Kunimoto
Interested to see how Sarafian does in his welterweight debut. I didn’t think he looked too great at the weigh-ins, he seemed less than energetic and a little gaunt. Kunimoto has won five in a row and is a solid test for the Brazilian’s 170lbs debut. Sarafian fighting outside of Brazil for the first time since Bellator 1, crazy stat.
Round 1 - Sarafian is pushing forward and using a lot of movement so far. He lands a couple of big shots, while Kunimoto is taking the more tactical approach with leg kicks. Sarafian pushes forward, but Kunimoto gets a nice leg kick-jab combination. Kunimoto with the clinch, Sarafian against the cage struggling. Double underhooks and smothering approach by Kunimoto. Briefly gets him down. Sarafian slammed down, Kunimoto in side control momentarily but now half guard. Sarafian trying for a guillotine but not committing to it. Kunimoto may have the back now. Side control, and now the back. He has the rear naked! This is tight! He taps! Kunimoto with a great win despite being a +400 underdog. Sarafian should’ve stayed at middleweight in my opinion.
Result: Kunimoto via submission (rear naked choke) at 2:52 in first round.
Great win by Kunimoto who is now 2-0 in the UFC, who states that he hopes to fight on the Japan card in September. Sarafian handed his third loss in four, and may be out of the promotion after this upset. His two losses before this one were via controversial split decision, so maybe he’ll stick around.
Elizabeth Phillips vs. Valerie Letourneau
The only ladies fight of the card, with both of these fighters coming in on relatively late notice. 4-1 Phillips meets 5-3 Letourneau.
Round 1 - Phillips immediately getting the clinch and has Letourneau against the cage, who lands a nice knee to the body. Letourneau separates. Phillips pushes forward with a combination, then a blocked high kick. Both are exchanging, but none landing too clean. Lovely right by Phillips there. Then a left. Leg kick is countered by Phillips. She’s winging that overhand right too much though. But she lands it there. May have hurt here there. Letourneau seems fine. Phillips landing the better shots and Letourneau just punching air so far. Just as I type that she lands a nice right. Phillips has hurt Letourneau’s right eye. They’re both swinging big. She tagged her there, I think Letourneau is in trouble. Phillips with a right again. She’s looking so good on the feet so far. Nice left there, but Letourneau counters. Beautiful left then overhand right by Phillips. They each land short shots on the inside, Phillips once again getting the better. Nice 1-2 by Phillips. Head kick from Letourneau lands. Nice right there by Phillips, but she eats an uppercut there. Nice leg kick by Letourneau, but Phillips gets the clinch, great job with head control. Letourneau’s right eye now bloodied, with her left shutting with every punch landed by Phillips. Head kick by Phillips, then Letourneau lands a big head kick. Letourneau lands a 1-2 at the end of the round, great job there. Letourneau is wincing in the corner while the cut man works on that eye, that thing is naaaasty.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Phillips.
Round 2 - Huge shot by Phillips lands, but Letourneau tries to get the takedown which is prevented. I don’t think this fight can go on much longer. Short elbow by Letourneau as Phillips gets in, that looked 12-6. Phillips has her against the cage and is controlling her with ease in this position. Letourneau controlling the right arm momentarily but let’s it go. She shakes her off. Head kick misses. Phillips breathing out of her mouth now. Nice leg kick but Letourneau counters and moves forward. Nice uppercut by the Canadian. That’s better. Nice jab there. Phillips is leaving a lot of holes now, the short notice may have affected her. Huge combination by Letourneau, she’s getting the better of Phillips for the first time of the fight. Uppercut. And another. Phillips is susceptible to that technique. Letourneau now using movement,t then a head kick and she moves out of the way of Phillips’ strikes. But a left lands by Phillips, Letourneau countering though. Another lovely combination by Letourneau, and a knee! That made her back up. Letourneau now seems a lot more comfortable, short elbow then a jab lands. She doubles up on that right jab. Phillips is simply so tired and her attacks are very laboured in this round. Letourneau has gone from almost done to on the right track to winning this fight, crazy.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Letourneau (19-19).
Round 3 - Phillips attempts a takedown straight away but easily dealt with by Letourneau, who then lands nice combinations as they separate. She’s pushing forward, stuffing Phillips’ attempts and landing big. She may have Phillips hurt. Uppercut again. Letourneau is too quick and has the bigger gas tank, making this her fight for the taking. Nothing Phillips is attempting is landing, while Letourneau is getting off with a great combination of jabs as she pushes forward. Phillips gets the clinch and has her opponent against the cage, but doing little from this position. Wrist control from Letourneau, and some nice knees to the body. That eye is just horrid, Letourneau somehow powering through it. She momentarily trips Phillips but straight back up and separated. Letourneau has the centre. Phillips with a nice jab there. And another. But Letourneau fires right back. Beautiful combination, she’s mixing up her punches and kicks well. 1 minute left and Phillips needs to do something big now. Body kick from Letourneau. Stiff jab. Uppercut again. Phillips just coming in and taking damage. Big body kick, but Phillips returns the favour. They’re swinging away as the bell goes. Good fight. Both of these women are tough as nails, especially Letourneau and that painful looking eye. She should have her first UFC win.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Letourneau (29-28 Letourneau).
Result: Letourneau via split decision (29-28 x2, 28-29).
The Canadian put in a great performance and had to overcome Phillips’ best in the first, and also a badly damaged eye. She recovered well, was the more active in the second and third and showed superior striking in a good debut. Phillips will be back and is a solid prospect added to this 135lbs division, and it’ll be interesting to see what she can do after a full training camp.
How one judge gave it 29-28 to Phillips is beyond me.
Yves Jabouin vs. Mike Easton
Both of these bantamweights need a big win here to stay relevant and – in truth – stay in the UFC. Easton has lost three in a row, whilst Jabouin has gone 1-2 in his last three. Both fighters’ losses have come against stellar competition, but that does not make a win any less important for either fighter. Jabouin the +185 underdog for this one.
Round 1 - Easton going side-to-side early. Jabouin getting out of the way of all of Easton’s attacks before an accidental eye poke to the American. Well handled by the referee, and they get back to it. Better by Easton, who lands a short right before tying up. Nice slip and rip by Easton, then a leg kick. Stiff right, and again by Easton. Easton rocks him! Big right by Easton there. But Jabouin gets a takedown. Easton did a great job there but Jabouin with the veteran move, trying to regather his senses now. Referee warning for inactivity now. Nothing happening now. Easton trying to elevate Jabouin with the butterflies but fails. He’s doing a good job of controlling him here, Jabouin offering little from the top. Then a nice short right by Jabouin there, but that’s all. Easton wall walks to his feet, now in the clinch with Jabouin getting double underhooks against the cage. They trade knees, then a takedown by Jabouin but Easton right back up. Elbow by Jabouin. Clinch from Easton, who attempts the takedown but ends up on the bottom in full guard. Well countered there from Jabouin. 1:30 left in the first. Once again, little happening once the fight hits the mat. Good right elbow from Jabouin, but Easton works his way up. Nice jabs from Jabouin now though. Good trip by Easton in the clinch, side control now. Great job from The Hulk. But Jabouin works his way up and lands a spinning back kick. Good slip and rip from Jabouin, very quick with that uppercut. Right lands from Jabouin, with Easton landing a 1-2 at the end of the round.
Cooper scores round 1 10-9 Jabouin.
Round 2 - Nice front kick by Jabouin, but Easton trying to make him uncomfortable with pressure. Lovely kick from Jabouin, then a beautiful uppercut. He’s doing well from the outside, jabbing Easton as he’s coming in. Body kick. Good knee to the body from Easton, who then checks Jabouin’s head kick. Double leg attempted by Easton but Jabouin uses it to end up on top, getting Easton’s back and dragging him back to the mat. Trying to get the hooks in now. Good work here from Jabouin. But Easton wall walks. Beautiful trip from Jabouin, still got the back, but Easton up once again. Nice body knees from Easton, who turns the clinch around. Jabouin does the same, then lands an elbow, then a big high kick and a spinning kick. Very creative combination from Jabouin right there. Lovely combination, right hand then uppercut. Big kicks, then a big right. Great work by Jabouin, who looks so comfortable, and then gets the single leg into half guard. Once again, Jabouin doing little once the fight is on the ground, but he’s scoring points. 1:30 remain in the second. Easton has guard, but Jabouin simply outworking him with short shots and is cruising. The referee separates them for inactivity with 30 seconds left. Easton with a big left there, he’s biting down on the mouthpiece and swinging now. Jabouin countering him easily though. Lovely spinning back kick to end the round for the Canadian.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Jabouin (20-18 Jabouin).
Round 3 - Left hook by Jabouin, he’s at ease on the feet and oustriking him now. Lovely attacks, then a stuffed takedown and more of the same. Spinning back kick from Easton misses. Jabouin has the clinch, over under and Easton against the cage. Frustrating fight for Easton thusfar. He does a good job of spinning it around but these short body shots simply aren’t enough. He drops down for the takedown but unable to complete it. Knee to the body by Easton. Nice knee to the head by Jabouin, then to the body and an elbow. Jabouin with a lovely punching combination as he turns away from Easton’s attacks. Double leg by Jabouin, lovely job of mixing it up. Easton is clearly annoyed with himself for getting taken down again, and he gives up his back. Jabouin has one hook and 2:15 left in the round, plenty of time to work. Easton could end up on top in this, Jabouin does a good job of preventing that so far. And he does. He has half guard but good job of keeping Easton on the bottom. Easton going for a kimura now, great job! He’s swept him and has side control! But lets go of the technique. But on top nonetheless. He has 1 minute to save his UFC career now. Body shots. He needs a finish desperately, but he’s just not doing enough. Kimura attempted again but lazy, Jabouin exploding but Easton ends up on top. Knees to the body of Jabouin. 30 seconds left in this crucial third. Full guard. This is it for Easton, who may have this third but has lost this fight handily.
Cooper scores round 3 10-9 Easton (29-28 Easton).
Result: Jabouin via unanimous decision (29-28 x3).
Hats off to Easton for trying to save himself from the inevitable in the third, but he didn’t do enough and overall had a poor performance. Jabouin looked good once he got going, and showed a well-rounded arsenal. He’s now 5-3 in the UFC and should slot into the top 15 after that win.
Kajan Johnson vs. Tae Hyun Bang
Round 1 - Kajan starts with a flying kick attempt. Each land in an exchange, a right by Johnson. Jab by Bang. Head kick from Johnson, but Bang continues by tossing Kajan there. Johnson likes that overhand right and he’s setting it up with the left. Beautiful single straight into side control by Johnson, Bang hanging onto the neck but not dangerous from this position. But he uses it to reverse, lovely work by Bong. He’s still grabbing the neck, and lands a couple of knees. Well countered by Bang. Johnson with a beautiful slip and rip, and another. He’s the more technical striker thusfar. Bang pushing forward. Huge left by Bang drops Johnson! He’s wobbly. Guillotine attempted now, but Johnson tries to sweep. Bang looking for the back now, no hooks in. Johnson with a lovely roll. Crazy scramble, Kajan did well there and is back to his feet now. Great job. Bang landing a lovely 1-2 there, Kajan looking to clinch. Teep from the Canadian fighter, who seems to have his bearings now. Johnson lands a left hook there, certainly the better in that exchange. Knee by Johnson, then a stiff right. Head kick. He may have hurt him now. Clinch now, and Johnson with a lovely takedown with 30 seconds remaining. Side control off the bat. Very strong finish for the hometown fighter, and this is a tough one to judge. Full mount attempted but Bang escapes.
Cooper scores round 1 10-10.
Round 2 - Johnson now seems more composed and attempts that left high kick again, then a nice left leg kick. Well dodged after Bang pushes forward. Stiff jab by Johnson. Returned by Bang. I don’t like the way Kajan leaves his chin up in the air while attacking. Nice jab then out of the way by Johnson. He’s utilising jabs and leg kicks very well now and is landing the more strikes in this second. Body punch by Kajan. Bang trying to land heavy but misses. He wobbles him with a big left though! But Johnson gets the takedown. Ooo great move by Bang, he grabs the neck and rolls him over to get top control. Same as the first round but completed. Bang is bloodied, and is in half guard now. Full guard. Kajan going for the leg now, and trying to use that to get the back. Great job by Johnson there! Big right and now a double leg takedown. Huge huge takedown. Side control. That’s simply brilliant by Johnson there. Bang going for that same technique of the guillotine sweep but well defended by Johnson. They’re on their feet now, Johnson pushing forward. Jab from Bang now. Big right then the left by Bang! Not sure how hard that landed, but it did. Spinning attack from Bang misses by a mile, that’s a sign of tiredness now – Bang breathing out of his mouth due to his bloodied nose. He pushes forward at the end of the round, attempts a head kick which misses and that’s another fun round in the books.
Cooper scores round 2 10-9 Bang (20-19 Bang).
Round 3 - Crucial round now in a close fight thusfar. This is a war of nutrition now. Nice right by Johnson. Bang tring to use the jab to close the distance. Johnson goes for an elbow, but Bang counters with a right. Another nice counter from Bang. Stiff jab from Johnson there. Kajan taking too many blows though, he needs to defend a lot better in this third round. Nice level change from Johnson but well stuffed from Bang there. Nice right from Bang, that technique has been there all fight. Head kick by Johnson countered by a huge right by Bang and that is it! Johnson was out there and a great stoppage from John McCarthy! Absolutely huge right hand there.
Result: Bang via knockout (punch) at 2:59 in third round.
A great performance by Bang, and he certainly had the more power in his hands compared to Johnson. A tough loss to take for Kajan and there are a number of holes that he needs to work on, but Bang showed his worth in an impressive second Octagon appearance.
Preliminary Card: UFC Fight Pass Results
I was unable to catch the Fight Pass prelims due to the World Cup being on, my apologies. Currently wiping away the tears after Italy won, so here’s hoping the UFC can bring me some joy.
Roland Delorme vs. Michinori Tanaka
Solid debut by Tanaka, who dominated the Canadian Delorme for the full 15 minutes and handed him his second loss in a row. Tanaka remains unbeaten as a professional.
Result: Tanaka via unanimous decision (30-27 x3).
Jason Saggo vs. Josh Shockley
Jason Saggo getting his first win in the UFC, with Shockley losing his Octagon debut in this one. Complete dominance from the Canadian and a very solid debut, as he gets the TKO win before the end of round one.
Result: Saggo via TKO (punches) at 4:57 in first round.