Today there will be the sixth UFC pay per view of the year, a somewhat low number compared to the number of fight cards that have been aired on Fox, Fox Sports 1 or 2, and the UFC"s digital network, UFC Fight Pass. Although it can be argued that the market is becoming oversaturated, the UFC has done a good job of saving solid bouts that have big implications on the future of divisions for the pay per view cards they run, and this card is no exception to that. The main event features flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson facing challenger Ali Bagautinov. This is certainly one of the most exciting match ups for Johnson besides a rematch with John Dodson, as he has already finished Joseph Benavidez and John Moraga and holds decision victories over Ian McCall and John Dodson, although the latter could have gone either way. Bagautinov has only had 3 fights in the UFC, including a victory over confusing wrestler Tim Elliot and knockout artist John Lineker. Bagautinov may not have stats that jump off the page, but he is a solid fighter with a will that takes him to the next level, and it can be argued that his potential, which hasn't been fully exposed in his first 3 UFC fights, will fully come out in this fight. Even with that prospect in mind, I don't see Johnson losing this fight, and I don't see him doing anything besides dominating Bagautinov. I think Bagautinov is too tough to finish, but I expect Johnson to mix up his striking and wrestling well at a speed and pace too fast for Bagautinov to keep up with, en route to a long 25 minutes for Bagautinov.
The co-main event is an exciting welterweight battle between contenders Rory MacDonald and Tyron Woodley. The welterweight division has been open since the departure of Georges St. Pierre, and Johny Hendricks has been able to capitalize on the long reigning champs absence by beating Robbie Lawler for the vacant belt after losing a narrow split decision the St. Pierre in November. Hendricks hasn't defended his belt yet, he will be out until later this year and until then there will be two fights that will be responsible for determining the first challenger to Hendricks' title. Robbie Lawler and Matt Brown will face off later this summer and while that is supposed to determine the number 1 contender, in the event of injury or a very exciting performance tonight, Woodley or MacDonald may be able to cut the line and get the first crack at the belt. MacDonald lost a split decision to Lawler that prevented him from facing Hendricks for the vacant belt, and he will look to control the range and pace, and keep Woodley at distance to get another shot at the belt. While MacDonald has a clear technical advantage in this bout, Woodley has earned vicious knockouts in his past 2 fights and will look to use his explosive power in the striking and wrestling department to put MacDonald away, while MacDonald will look to outpoint Woodley. I think it is only a matter of time before Woodley finds MacDonald's chin with a heavy strike to put him away, as MacDonald's striking defense will be compromised since he has to deal with the threat of a takedown as well. I think the finish will come near the end of the first round, and if Lawler vs. Brown later this summer is for some reason an uneventful fight or the winner is hurt, Woodley will challenge for the belt this fall.
In the third fight on the pay per view main card, Ryan Bader will face Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante in a light heavyweight bout to see who will move up into the top 10 and who will fall to the bottom of the top 15 in the division. Feijao has only had 2 fights since coming over with the purchase of Strikeforce, and after losing a first round knockout to the now unemployed fighter Thiago Silva, he scored an impressive knockout over Igor Pokrajac in just over a minute. Bader has remained in the middle tier of elite fighters since winning the Ultimate Fighter, coming close to challenging for the title upon facing Jon Jones, Glover Teixera and Lyoto Machida, but getting finished in all of those fights. Bader is a strong wrestler with good knockout power, while Feijao is a striker who has never seen a decision, with 11 of his 12 wins by way of knockout. While Feijao has looked good against wrestlers in the past, I think Bader will threaten with the takedown enough to find a knockout blow, that will put Feijao away in the second round.
The second fight on this pay per view card will feature the return of former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski facing Ultimate Fighter Finalist and ranked heavyweight, Brendan Schaub. Arlovski held the heavyweight belt way back in 2005, and had a solid record in the UFC before leaving and fighting for a number of other promotions. Arlovski ran into some trouble in Affliction and Strikeforce between 2009 and 2011, losing 4 straight fights, but rebounded after that to have 7 wins, 1 loss and 1 no contest with his only loss coming against top light heavyweight, Anthony Johnson. Schaub had a good winning streak after losing to Roy Nelson in the Ultimate Fighter 10 Finale before losing by first round knockout to Ben Rothwell and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Following those 2 knockout losses, Schaub fought an overly-safe bout against heavy handed Lavar Johnson en route to a decision victory, and submitted Matt Mitrione in his most recent bout. Based on Schaub's tendency to crumble when hit with heavy shots, Arlovski's history in which he has finished nearly 3/4 of his fights by knockout and Arlovski's experience, I think Arlovski will take his time, avoid Schaub's striking and jiu jitsu, wait for an opening and catch Schuab with a knockout blow in the third round.
The opening fight of the pay per view broadcast will showcase a fight between Ovince St. Preux and Ryan Jimmo, two scary light heavyweights with the potential to move into the top 10 of the division with a big finish. St. Preux, known more often under the abbreviation OSP, came into the UFC from Strikeforce with a 5-1 record in the organization, with his only loss coming to Gegard Mousasi. OSP is currently undefeated in the UFC, with his 2 most recent wins coming in a total of under 4 minutes by knockout and a rare submission known as a VonFlue choke. Jimmo made a statement and tied the record for the fastest knockout in his UFC debut, and proceeded to rack up a 2-2 record since that victory with his most recent win coming by first round knockout. Jimmo is a vicious striker that hits like a truck, but when his firepower can be absorbed or avoided he tends to tire and can be outpointed or overpowered after his gas tank is emptied, usually rather quickly. Jimmo doesn't have cardio issues per say, but with the kind of power he puts into shots the level of intensity required simply can't be maintained for very long. I think OSP is too savvy and technical to get caught by Jimmo, and even if he does I think he will absorb it well and fire back to threaten Jimmo enough to get space. I think OSP will take Jimmo to a decision and get his hand raised in the process, as Jimmo doesn't have much to offer besides knockout power which OSP will likely avoid or divert while outpointing Jimmo.
Who do you think will win these fights on pay per view tonight? Please comment below with any ideas and feedback.