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UFC 186 Johnson vs. Horiguchi: Observer Picks & Mini-Preview

UFC 186

By Josh Nason, WrestlingObserver.com

It’s another PPV headlined by UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson which gives us another chance to point at what a non-draw he is. After three straight FOX main events, Saturday will mark his third straight time competing in a format where people must pay to watch him.

And that’s the issue: the MMA masses aren’t that interested in doing that.

Why is that, anyway? Is it because he’s smaller than others? Is it because of his personality? Is his competition not compelling enough? Is it his style? Likely, it’s a combination of all those four and some other factors as well. I can’t sit here and tell you to be interested in Johnson fighting because, if we’re being honest, I don’t really care that much about seeing him fight and I can’t explain why.

It took roughly three years for bantamweights and featherweights to have compelling fights up and down the stack. This fall will mark the third year of the UFC’s 125-pound division, but I don’t feel like we’re any closer to the paying public giving a damn about seeing how things play out. There’s still time, but ask yourself this: if the flyweight division was to disappear after Saturday, would you honestly miss it?

*****

Our panel:

Jack Encarnacao (35-10 | .777) Sherdog Rewind host, The Lapsed Fan podcast co-chair, Steve Austin impersonator

Mike Sempervive (31-14 | .688) Wrestling Observer Live co-host | Big Audio Nightmare

David Bixenspan (31-14 | .688)
 Figure Four Weekly writer, Observer Daily Update writer, podcast host

Steve Juon (30-15 | .666) AngryMarks founder, MMA Mania writer

John Pollock (30-15 | .666) Fight Network personality, Live Audio Wrestling co-host, The MMA Report host

Front Row Brian (27-18 | .600) MMA newsbreaker, Twitter personality, podcast host

Dave Meltzer (27-18 | .600)
 Wrestling Observer founder & writer, occasional cougher

- Josh Nason (25-20 | .555)
 Wrestling Observer digital media and content guy, WON Twitter enabler

Todd Martin (25-20 | .555) LA Times | Sherdog

Mike Sawyer (23-22 | .511)
 Tough Talk MMA, 2014 picks panel champion 

*****

-- Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson (21-2-1) vs. Kyoji Horiguchi (15-1)

Johnson rolls into Montreal looking for the sixth defense of his 125-pound gold and unless a Montreal Canadiens banner falls from the rafters on him, he’s going to get it. DJ is coming off a second round submission win over Chris Cariaso in September and is looking to extend an eight-fight unbeaten streak.

His 24-year-old opponent isn’t the top contender, but there’s no one else ready for Johnson so to the gallows he goes. He comes into the fight having won all four of his UFC fights, last seen decisioning Louis Gaudinot in January. Horiguchi has won nine straight and has nine knockouts in 15 career victories. He’s got a shot, but it’s not a good one.

Johnson (big favorite): Nason, Sempervive, Juon, Pollock, Meltzer, Encarnacao, Martin, Sawyer, Bix
Horiguchi: FRB

-- Michael Bisping (25-7) vs. C.B. Dolloway (15-6)
Middleweight

What else does the 36-year-old Bisping have left at this point? Bisping has lost four of his last seven with his only wins coming over one guy that’s retired (Brian Stann), another who hasn’t fought in two years (Alan Belcher), and another who is suing the UFC (Cung Le). Bisping was last seen getting beat up by Luke Rockhold in November. With a career as a FOX analyst just sitting there, the end is a lot closer than we think.

Dollaway had his big opportunity quashed by Lyoto Machida in December, dispatched in just 62 seconds and left crumpled on the mat. A winner of four of his last six (it arguably should be five), the 31-year-old has his latest shot at beating a name. Look for him to attempt to take this down to the ground. The odds have this as pretty close and it very well could be.

Bisping (slight favorite): Sempervive, Juon, FRB, Encarnacao, Martin, Bix
Dolloway: Nason, Pollock, Meltzer, Sawyer

-- Rampage Jackson (35-11) vs. Fabio Maldonado (22-7)
215-pound catchweight

I don’t know about you, but I’m over the whole Rampage thing. His signing/breach of contract feels like the Mirko Cro Cop signing: a guy with a big name from another era designed to fill a spot. He’s 36, can’t fight wrestlers, and has no shot at earning a title shot any year soon. He won three in a row in Bellator with a big ol’ asterisk next to the “victory” over Mo Lawal in May. This could be his last UFC fight depending on what happens in court next, so enjoy him while he’s here.

Maldonado should be in Bud Light ads as he’s seemingly the “up for anything” style fighter. Remember when they needed a fill-in to fight Stipe Miocic at heavyweight and Maldonado raised his hand to get battered around? Want to fight a guy named Hans Stringer? Sure! He’s won four of his last five and earned his first win by T/KO in four years with his October triumph under Stringer.

Jackson (slight favorite): Nason, Pollock, FRB, Meltzer, Encarnacao, Juon, Martin, Sawyer
Maldonado: Sempervive, Bix

-- John Makdessi (12-3) vs. Shane Campbell (11-2)
160-pound catchweight

Makdessi returns to the cage for the first time in over a year and looks to get back to his winning ways after his loss to Alan Patrick stopped a three-fight win streak. This marks Campbell’s UFC debut, but he’s far from inexperienced. A kickboxer with 62 professional wins, Campbell has won three straight and has finishes in his last five wins. This is an interesting toss-up fight.

Makdessi (slight favorite): Sempervive, Juon, Pollock, FRB, Meltzer, Martin, Sawyer
Campbell: Nason, Encarnacao, Bix

-- Yves Jabouin (20-9) vs. Thomas Almeida (18-0)
Bantamweight

Jabouin is 2-2 in his last four and is coming off a unanimous decision win over Mike Easton. Interesting note: he’s been finished in his last four defeats.The 23-year-old Almeida is undefeated and made his UFC debut in November with a decision win over Tim Gorman. Before that decision, the Brazilian had finished all of his 17 opponents including 11 straight by T/KO. Not surprisingly, he’s a big favorite.

Almeida (big favorite): Nason, Sempervive, Juon, Pollock, FRB, Meltzer, Encarnacao, Martin, Sawyer, Bix

Dave Meltzer will have your live coverage here starting with the prelims in the afternoon. Grab some poutine and a Unibroue and be snarky with everyone on the Internet!