UFC 174: Johnson vs. Bagautinov Results - Sunday Perspective

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

T.P. Grant breaks down all the important talking points of the UFC Flyweight Championship match and the rest of the UFC 174 card.

The UFC's rather ill advised attempt to counter program World Cup soccer with the UFC 174 PPV ended up being a bit of a clunker card and it is highly likely this event records one of the lowest buy rates in the post MMA boom era. There was zero hype, zero public awareness heading into this card, but despite all that there was some highly relevant MMA action that took place and bears discussion, so on to the thoughts on the fights!

  • Demetrious Johnson completely dominated Ali Bagautinov across the entirety of five rounds to defend his Flyweight title. Johnson established his range for striking early, just outside of Bagautinov's punching range. In the clinch it was all DJ, as he stifled all of Bagautinov's attempts to find an angle and punished him with knees. This was Johnson's fourth defense of the UFC Flyweight title, and despite the division still very much in a developing stage, Johnson is solidifying himself as one of the very best fighters in the sport and is deserving of the level of respect given to a Jose Aldo or Jon Jones.
  • The last two UFC title fights have really demonstrated the importance of quality footwork in high level MMA. There is a lot of talk of Johnson's speed, but really his footwork is what we should be praising. He is always on balance and in an athletic position, never over extends, and is always able to quickly dart in any direction. This is not to say Bagautinov has poor footwork, his is quite good, as are his overall skills, but DJ is on another level.
  • Rory MacDonald put on the best, most complete performance of his career. He backed up Tyron Woodley with his sharp boxing, and once Rory had his opponent on the fence he really let his striking flow and just tagged Woodley over and over. Woodley was clearly completely thrown off his game, and even was taken down by MacDonald and was forced to play guard for an extended period of time. This was an extremely high level Welterweight match, but ended up being rather one-sided as MacDonald put on a show. It was the kind of fight that really demands that Rory jump the line of Welterweight contenders and get a shot at the title.
  • Ryan Bader trounced Rafael Cavalcante with a dominant display of MMA wrestling. Bader ground Feijao down with clinching against the cage, knees to the legs and body and relentless takedowns. This win that solidifies Bader's place as the gatekeeper to the Top 5, while Feijao is out of relevancy as a Light Heavyweight.
  • Andrei Arlovski got a questionable split decision over Brendan Schaub while the general sentiment seemed to be leaning toward Schaub. But there was so little clear offense in this fight it is hard to get worked up over the decision. After the fight it was very clear Schaub had taken a good amount of damage to his face, but the eye test is not a reliable way to judge a fight. Either way it was a clunker of fight that is a stark reminder that even in this seeming golden age of MMA heavyweights the drop off in that division from elite fighters to the next tier down is quite steep. Schaub is still a good fighter and athlete, but has these confusing performances from time to time where it really seems he should hold a serious edge over a fighter for a variety reasons and isn't able to capitalize, he deserved to win this fight, but he also seemed capable of putting far more of stamp on the fight than he ended up leaving.
  • Ovince St. Preux continues to improve by leaps and bound each time he steps in the cage. Against Ryan Jimmo he really showed off some polished grappling, both MMA wrestling and in terms of ground grappling, transitioning to the back well and really controlling Jimmo. A broken arm ended the match, it is unclear when Jimmo suffered the injury, but St. Preux looked quite good and far more than "just an athlete". While on the wrong side of 30, St. Preux seems to be on the rise and deserves a shot at the upper levels of the Light Heavyweight division.
  • Japanese MMA veteran Kiichi Kunimoto showed off some veteran grappling savvy has he transitioned to a nice rear naked choke finish of Daniel Sarafian. It was a solid finish for Kuninmoto, and a reminder of the limitations of Sarafian. While he had an impressive showing on TUF Brazil, Sarafian has not impressed in the UFC and his only other shot at the big time was a loss at Bellator Fight Championships 1 back in 2009. For Sarafian this isn't a story of squandered potential, this is what kind of fighter he is.
  • The Elizabeth Phillips and Valerie Letourneau fight was fairly unremarkable other than the fact that Letourneau was wearing fight shorts that really entered that gray area under the knee between shorts and pants. The official rules, as per the New Jersey State Athletic Commission website, only use the term "shorts" without defining the actual length of the garment. While it isn't a critical aspect of fighting, since full length pants are disallowed, it seems like there should be a clear cut off established, perhaps simply the knee.
  • Mike Easton's career seems to be clearly suffering by proxy from the Team Lloyd Irvin scandal. Since the story of the alleged rape broke and the camp came under intense scrutiny Easton is now 0-3. Alliance MMA has broken ties with TLI and since then Easton has trained exclusively at Irvin's school, and his overall MMA game has clearly deteriorated. He is clearly still very talented, but his wrestling is clearly in decline, and his striking has stagnated. He game Yves Jabouin a tough fight, but in the end Jabouin's more well rounded game carried the day.
  • On Fight Pass there were two solid grappling performances by UFC new comers. Jason Saggo, Royler Gracie brown belt, but on a flow grappling clinic against Josh Shockley, effortless moving from position to position before getting the back and finishing with strikes. Japanese youngster Michinori Tanaka showed off highly improved pressure and top control against Roland Delorme. Tanaka has struggled to control larger fighters on the ground before and he has made clear improvements in that department. It was a pair of good wins, but Tanaka is more of an intriguing prospect at 23-years-old and coming out of the talent starved Japanese scene.

For more MMA and Grappling analysis, history, technique, and discussion be sure to follow T.P. Grant on Twitter or Facebook.

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