MMA Odds and Ends for Thursday: Mighty Mouse vs. Bagautinov Headlines UFC 174

ali-bagautinov2 UFC 174 has its main event, and it will be a title fight. The world’s leading MMA promotion yesterday announced that Demetrious Johnson will put his UFC flyweight championship on the line against Ali Bagautinov in the five-round main event of UFC 174, which takes place June 14 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia. It will mark the first time that Johnson, who has successfully defended his belt three times since winning it at UFC 152, will headline a pay-per-view card as a champion. This fight has been rumored for some time now as it was really the only matchup that made sense for both men. After winning three in a row in the Octagon, including a huge win over John Lineker in his last outing at UFC 169, Bagautinov deserved his title shot in the weak flyweight division, while for Johnson he has already defeated most of the top contenders in the division and so the fight against Bagautinov is a a fresh matchup. Still, while I do believe Bagautinov is worthy of fighting for the belt, stylistically this is a nightmare matchup for him as Johnson is better than him in basically every facet of the game and there doesn’t seem to be a clear path to victory for Bagautinov in this one. So even though Bagautinov has gotten a lot of respect from the betting public in his UFC career while Johnson hasn’t got much at all, I still think that Johnson is going to be a big favorite here, perhaps -350 or even closer to -400, and I think that’s a very fair line for one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. UFC Makes Switcheroo At TUF Brazil 3 Finale Due to an injury to Mike Pierce, the UFC has called upon newcomer Alexander Yakovlev to take his place against Demian Maia, and the two will clash at the TUF Brazil 3 Finale in late May in a welterweight bout. To accommodate this move, the UFC had to remove Yakovlev from his UFC Fight Night 40 matchup against Yan Cabral, and today it was announced that Zak Cummings will now face Cabral at that event. Overall, I’m not super pleased with this switcheroo. I don’t think Yakovlev deserves to fight Maia, one of the top 10 welterweights on the planet, in his UFC debut, and I don’t think it was fair to switch Cabral’s opponent on him with just a few weeks left until the fight. That being said, the UFC obviously ran into some issues finding a willing opponent to fight Maia in Brazil on short notice, which makes sense considering how difficult a matchup that is. As far as the Maia vs. Yakovlev fight goes, it will likely be more competitive that most think but I still Maia should win this fight and I see him being around a -250 favorite or a bit higher in this spot. As for the Cabral vs. Cummings fight, that’s a close one to call and I expect it to be near a Pick ’em with a slight lean to Cabral due to him having a full camp, but it’s a winnable fight for both men to be sure. Gastelum vs. Musoke Set For UFC Fight Night 44 And finally, a welterweight bout between surging fighters Kelvin Gastelum and Nico Musoke was added to UFC Fight Night 44, which takes place late June in San Antonio, Texas. Although Musoke has been impressive in the UFC, going 2-0 so far in the promotion, this is a significant step down for Gastelum considering his recent opposition and I think this is a total mismatch on paper. That being said, for whatever reason, despite being 3-0 in the UFC the betting public hasn’t given Gastelum all that much respect, so I don’t think he’ll be more than a -250 favorite in this fight even though realistically he could be closer to 4-to-1 because he’s the better fighter in every area of the game, as far as I’m concerned.

Written by Adam Martin.

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