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UFC 186: Johnson vs. Horiguchi – Winners and losers

Karim Zidan delves into the real winners and losers from Saturday night’s UFC 186 PPV show from Montreal, Quebec.

Esther Lin

Once upon a time, Montreal was the home to some of the UFC's most impressive live events, as well as the promotion's top Canadian star, Georges St-Pierre. Since his decision to step away from the sport, the UFC has all but abandoned their Canadians stronghold markets, and the latest PPV attempt in the Great White North made this evidently clear.

As is the case with the majority of UFC events, there was a slew of entertaining fights and enthralling battles, yet it was easy to distinguish it from the UFC's elite PPV shows and that will only continue to harm the dwindling Canadian market.

Winners

Demetrious Johnson produced another world class showing in the main event of the UFC 186. yet one could not help but notice the silence that engulfed the arena once his fight began. Here is one of the best fighters that the young sport of MMA has ever produced and few seem to be interested in admiring his handiwork. He is not a ratings draw, a PPV draw, a ticket seller, or even a fan favourite, yet that should not alter Johnson's place in UFC history. He is the first flyweight champion and has compiled an exemplary record in that division. His performance today, including the record-breaking submission finish, is the just the latest in a long line of impressive wins and dominant performances. If fans will not approve of him during his reign, they will one day look back in hindsight and relish his achievements.

Michael Bisping and C.B. Dollaway added to the entertaining main card with their thrilling three-round battle. It was an entertaining affair, particularly since few expected much from it once it was officially announced. Both fighters had their moments and looked good, but it was Bisping who incorporated his in-cage experience and adjusted his game to win the fight 29-28 on all scorecards.

Thomas Almeida extended his UFC record to 2-0 with a exceptionally violent finish against Yves Jabouin in the first round of the opening fight on the main card. Almeida's touted skills were on full display, as he peppered the local favourite with constant body shots and showed off his superior striking before bombarding him with a late flurry to force the referee stoppage. It is clear that the UFC considers Almeida to be a talent worth the promotional backing and the undefeated fighter has not let them down yet.

Olivier Aubin-Mercier drew one of the biggest pops from the local crowd at the Bell Centre when he locked on a palm-to-palm rear-naked choke late in the final round of his preliminary match-up against David Michaud. The 7-1 fighter is still a raw talent and it showed during the fight when he made some questionable decisions in the second round. However, given the pressure of his recent Reebok deal, it is safe to say that Aubin-Mercier handled his grown recognition in impressive fashion.

Losers

Canadian MMA Market: Fans at the Bell Centre were treated to, arguably, a glorified Fight Night or FOX show masquerading as a PPV event on Saturday night. It was an event with little buzz and even less attendance, which is a shame for one of the more prominent MMA markets in the world. While one should not linger in the past and focus effort on reminiscing about the glory days of GSP and events such as UFC 129, it is impossible to deny just how far the "mecca of MMA" has fallen.

Fabio Maldonado's willingness to take damage may have fashioned him into a sort of cult favourite amongst hardcore fans, but make no mistake about it, it could turn into an ugly blemish on the sport overall. Fans and pundits may praise his bloodlust and entertaining fights; they may even proclaim him a "real fighter" amongst point fighters, yet the potential brain trauma and mental health issues that come with those traits will only haunt the sport in the long run.

Sarah Kaufman may be one of the better fighters in the women's bantamweight division, but she has been unable to string together consecutive wins since she joined the UFC. Her latest defeat came against fellow Canadian Alexis Davis, who stopped her in the second round of their preliminary bout. After Kaufman had suggested that the fight could potentially end Davis' career, she finds herself gradually declining in the UFC rankings.

Other Notes:

Quinton Jackson did not deserve a spot in the winner's column, as his co-main event fight against Fabio Maldonado halted the momentum that the main card had built up to that point. It was a lackluster showing and the Montreal crowd was not shy to sound their opinions about the fight. However, it should be noted that Rampage was brought back onto the UFC 186 fight card during fight week and many expected that he would not be at his best. That was exactly the case, as he gassed out midway through the fight and the end result was far from pretty.