A breakdown of the fights on the main card of UFC 174 today at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia:
Demetrious Johnson (19-2-1) vs. Ali Bagautinov (13-2)
■ CLASS: For flyweight title
■ LINE: Johnson minus-650
■ STORYLINE: There is certainly a chance Bagautinov could win this fight. He is incredibly strong, has a solid wrestling base and a dynamic ground game. All of those skills combined give Bagautinov a chance to beat anyone in the division. He will have to compete with the speed of Johnson, though. Even in the smallest division in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Johnson’s speed is on another level. His wrestling also should be good enough to keep Bagautinov from imposing his will. Johnson has incredible cardio to go with his quickness and has worn down almost every opponent as the fight progresses. That probably will be the case here. Look for Bagautinov to find early success, but Johnson to find a rhythm late in the second or early in the third round. The champion should retain the belt, but bettors looking for a long-shot play would be well served to put a few bucks down on the underdog.
■ PICK: Johnson by decision
Rory MacDonald (16-2) vs. Tyron Woodley (13-2)
■ CLASS: Welterweight
■ LINE: Pick ’em
■ STORYLINE: A matchup of two of the top fighters in one of the most stacked divisions in the UFC. Either Woodley or MacDonald will be able to stake at least a claim to the next title shot in the division with a victory. How the fight plays out probably will tell the story of who is winning. If it is fought at a slower pace and at a distance, MacDonald is probably in control. He would like nothing more than to sit back and jab Woodley for 15 minutes, pick up his paycheck and call it a night. If it’s a thriller, Woodley probably will be winning. He wants to get in tight and use his power to swing for a knockout or throw MacDonald to the ground. UFC president Dana White has called Woodley’s stamina into question several times this week in explaining why he might not be ready for a title shot. Woodley probably would like to show he can go the distance, but he certainly wouldn’t mind a quick knockout. MacDonald, who trains in Montreal but grew up in British Columbia, is too good at executing game plans to let that happen.
■ PICK: MacDonald by decision
Ryan Bader (17-4) vs. Rafael Cavalcante (12-4, 1 no contest)
■ CLASS: Light heavyweight
■ LINE: Bader minus-150
■ STORYLINE: Don’t expect this fight to last long. Cavalcante, best known by his nickname “Feijao,” has competed in 17 MMA fights as a professional. None has gone to the judges. Bader, a Reno native and star football player and wrestler at McQueen High School, has also developed a reputation as a finisher. That could be the problem in this fight for the former All-America wrestler at Arizona State. Bader would probably have the edge in a grappling battle, but he is starting to trust his hands a bit too much. That might be why he has been knocked out in two of his past four fights. Cavalcante, who has recorded 11 knockouts among his 12 wins, might add to that number.
■ PICK: Cavalcante by second-round knockout
Brendan Schaub (11-3) vs. Andrei Arlovski (21-10, 1 no contest)
■ CLASS: Heavyweight
■ LINE: Schaub minus-160
■ STORYLINE: Remember Andrei Arlovski? Schaub sure does. The former NFL player has consistently cited Arlovski as one of his biggest idols in the sport. Now he gets to fight him. Arlovski was the UFC heavyweight champion in 2005 and 2006. He departed the organization because of contract issues in 2008 and has been fighting in other organizations since. The 35-year-old has had mixed results outside the UFC. He dropped four fights in a row at one point, but has won six of his past seven. Arlovski knows this is his final chance, and he has showed flashes of the talent that made him a champion since he began working with Greg Jackson in Albuquerque, N.M. There are still questions about his chin, as he has been knocked out seven times. Schaub will certainly look to test that, but he has been talking extensively about the improvements in his submission game. Look for him to try to put it to use, but these are two of the fastest, most athletic heavyweights around, and they will certainly get into their fair share of standup exchanges.
■ PICK: Schaub by third-round knockout
Ryan Jimmo (19-3) vs. Ovince St. Preux (15-5)
■ CLASS: Light heavyweight
■ LINE: St. Preux minus-155
■ STORYLINE: St. Preux has all the talent in the world, and it’s finally showing up in his results. The former defensive end at Tennessee has won four straight fights, including all three bouts since signing with the UFC. In fact. St. Preux has won 12 of his past 13 fights, with the loss against top contender Gegard Mousasi on a Strikeforce card in 2011. He is a big, powerful striker with plenty of speed, but St. Preux has also developed an impressive repertoire on the ground. That should serve him well in this fight. Jimmo comes from a karate background and has a diverse standup game. St. Preux is capable of standing with Jimmo, but knows his bigger edge lies on the mat. Jimmo is 19-1 in his native Canada, but St. Preux will be his toughest opponent to date.
■ PICK: St. Preux by second-round submission
ADAM HILL/LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL