UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson is getting an opportunity to headline a PPV event for the first time in his next assignment. “Mighty Mouse” will square off against Ali Bagautinov in the main event of UFC 174 in Vancouver on June 14. It’s a matchup of two 125-pound competitors who are riding plenty of positive momentum.
Johnson is fresh off a tremendous 2013 that vaulted him up the pound-for-pound rankings and had him in the running for Fighter of the Year. Johnson made three successful title defenses, and is fresh off an electrifying first round knockout of Joseph Benavidez at UFC on FOX 9 in December. It was the first time that Benavidez had been stopped via strikes in his career.
Johnson is known for his remarkable speed and athleticism, and has emerged as a truly dominant force in the flyweight division. He already holds victories over the division’s current top four contenders, and now gets a fresh challenge in the form of Bagautinov.
He hasn’t lost since dropping a decision to then bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz back in 2011 when he was competing in the 135-pound division. “Mighty Mouse” became the first man to win the UFC’s 125-pound belt when he defeated Benavidez at UFC 152, and has shown no signs of surrendering it anytime soon.
Bagautinov came into the organization with plenty of advance hype and has lived up to the expectations. The Russian Combat Sambo ace is 3-0 inside the Octagon, with his most recent victory having come against the dangerous John Lineker at UFC 169 in New Jersey. He’s reeled off 11 consecutive victories and possesses solid power. Bagautinov has nine victories by knockout or submission in his 13 career triumphs, and should be a solid test for the champion.
This is the best matchup that could be made at this time in the flyweight picture. Bagautinov has been quick to make his case for a title opportunity with his Octagon success thus far, while the talented champion Johnson has shown he’s more than capable of dealing with whatever challenge comes his way.