UFC 174 Fight Breakdown: Demetrious Johnson (-660) vs. Ali Bagautinov (+540)
The main event of UFC 174 is a five-round title fight between UFC flyweight champion Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson and Ali "Puncher King" Bagautinov.
The current betting line for the fight at 5Dimes Sportsbook lists Johnson as a -660 favorite (bet $660 to win $100) while Bagautinov is a +540 underdog (bet $540 to win $110). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas originally opened up Johnson at -425 and Bagautinov at +305, meaning there has been significant action in the favor of the champion, "Mighty Mouse."
Although I believe Bagautinov is a legitimate title challenger, I have to pick the champion Johnson to win the fight and defend his belt once again. Here's why.
Johnson (19-2-1) is the UFC flyweight champion. The 27-year-old American is 7-1-1 overall in the UFC including an incredible 5-0-1 mark as a 125er, a record that includes victories over Ian McCall, John Dodson, Joseph Benavidez (twice), and John Moraga. Perhaps the fastest fighter in the sport of mixed martial arts, Johnson has incredible takedown ability, improving striking and very slick submissions on the ground. In short, he's one of the most well-rounded fighters on the planet and high up there in the pound-for-pound ranks. With a win over Bagautinov, Johnson would cement his place as one of the top three P4P fighters on the planet and as a fighter who thrives under pressure, I expect him to put on a dominant showing this weekend against an opponent who has never fought someone of his caliber before. Although Johnson has been an underdog in many of his fights, the public is finally starting to realize how talented this fighter is and he enters his title defence this weekend as an absolutely massive favorite.
Bagautinov (13-2) is one of the top contenders at 125lbs. The 29-year-old Dagestan native is 3-0 so far in the UFC with wins over John Lineker, Tim Elliott, and Marcos Vinicius, and overall he's on an 11-fight win streak. A tremendous grappler, Bagautinov is nicknamed "Puncher King" because of his vicious knockout power for a flyweight, having scored five knockouts in his 13 victories, including a knockout of Vinicius in his UFC debut last fall. Ideally, Bagautinov would have had a few more fights inside the Octagon before getting his crack at the title, but in a shallow division he was next in line and will take a huge step up in competition when he faces "Mighty Mouse" this weekend. His best way to win the fight will be to score a knockout of Johnson, but it's also possible he could try and use his grappling to get Johnson down to the mat, although that will be very difficult against an MMA wrestler of Johnson's caliber. Although Bagautinov has been nothing short of impressive so far in the UFC, Johnson is by far the best opponent he's ever fought in mixed martial arts and that's why he enters the fight as a significant underdog despite being a very solid fighter himself.
I believe this fight could play out in many different ways, so while a Johnson finish isn't out of the question I think it's most likely Johnson uses his wrestling to take Bagautinov to the ground and grind him out over five rounds en route to a decision victory.
At -660, I would recommend passing on Johnson in this spot. As we've seen lately in MMA, there are no locks in this sport and while Johnson should win this fight, it's not out of the question that we're all sleeping on Bagautinov and he pulls off another major upset in 2014. So I would just pass this fight completely and watch it as a fan -- it should be a good one.
Tags: ufc odds, mma odds, ufc, mma, ryan bader, Demetrious Johnson, Rory MacDonald, tyron woodley, andrei arlovski, ryan jimmo, brendan schaub, rafael cavalcante, ovince st. preux, Ali Bagautinov, ufc 174, ufc 174 odds