Locals make big impression at UFC in Vancouver
Demetrious Johnson (red gloves) fights Joseph Benavidez (blue gloves) during the flyweight championship bout of the UFC in this file photo, Dec. 14, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA. (Photo: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
The UFC came back to Vancouver last Saturday night. Although ticket sales started off sluggish, the event did a $1.4 million gate with a reported attendance of 13,506.
There were some talented Canadians on the card including a local MMA veteran in “Ragin” Kajan Johnson who finally made it to the big show. Although I had Johnson winning the first two rounds, he was left seeing stars when his Korean opponent Tae Hyun Bang landed a giant right hand that sent Kajan to the mat in the third round.
It was an unfortunate loss for the Burns Lake native who had overcome a lot of obstacles to make it to the Octagon. However, a nice $50,000 bonus for fight of the night will help ease the sting. I fully expect Kajan to get another UFC fight after that great performance.
In the co-main event, the roof came off of Rogers Arena as Rory MacDonald walked out to Metallica’s St. Anger and faced his toughest competition in Tyron Woodley.
Many were pleasantly surprised when Rory aggressively took the fight to Woodley from the opening bell and never looked back. The Kelowna native used his reach advantage perfectly to land a nice mix of kicks and punches to Tyron’s body, which allowed MacDonald to cruise to a dominant 30-27 unanimous decision victory.
“I think this is probably my best performance of my career so far,” MacDonald said at the post fight press conference. “I’ve got to watch the tape, but the feeling I have right now I’m pretty happy right now.
“A lot of credit has to go to my coach Firas Zahabi and the Tristar gym. I think I’m falling into a groove and I don’t know, something’s clicking.”
Although it was “Ares” MacDonald’s best performance he may still be one win away from a title shot. Matt Brown and Robbie Lawler fight each other in July and the winner of that bout is expected to face UFC Welterweight Champion Johny Hendricks later in the year. The 24-year-old may end up facing the winner of Hector Lombard and Dong Hyun Kim.
Overall UFC 174 was solid, but it seemed to fall flat in the eyes of many who were in attendance. It is expected that Calgary might get the nod for a UFC event a head of Vancouver in 2015.
Trevor contributes to MMASucka.com. Follow him on Twitter @TrevDueck