To be just and accurate with this article, I have to admit something.
I have been highly skeptical of UFC 186 since it was announced. I'm not sure if fighters like Kyoji Horiguchi, Fabio Maldonado, or CB Dolloway belong at the core of a UFC Pay-Per-View, and I'm not telling you that this show ultimately won't be a bust. But, I'm giving this a shot. To put aside my lifelong resentment of Michael Bisping and rejection of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson to promise you that UFC 186 can and will have an upside. Let's get started talking about the upside, the plus-side, the it-probably-won't-kill-you side:
At the heart of that is one man...
5. Demetrious Johnson, the most underrated champion in the UFC
"Mighty Mouse" can do it all.
His ability to outbox his opponents, tackle them on the ground, and completely debase even the most established claims of striking (Joseph Benavidez), grappling (Ian McCall), Sambo (Ali Bagautinov), or all-around MMA skills (John Dodson) is impressive. There is no champion more dominant today than Demetrious Johnson, and it is hardly even close.
He's a must see. A derailing fighter with all too much for most he'll meet in his UFC Flyweight title reign. Devil may care...
4. These guys will try
Kyoji Horiguchi is a world-class Shooto practitioner with a black belt in Karate. He poses a style which is difficult to prepare for and has beaten all comers since arriving in the UFC (4-0, 2 KO's, 2 DEC). Johnson will need to reply on percipience more than expectancy if he is to defend his title a sixth time.
Fabio Maldonado has credible boxing skills, and a ledger consisting of 22 wins, no losses and 21 KOs in that sport. Albeit none came against credible opposition, and all took place in Brazil, those are still some numbers. He also has a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and can thrive wherever the fight ends up. Although, naturally, one would only expect him to elicit a war at center cage with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.
CB Dolloway has floundered against the elite and the subservient alike, but has wins over a few fighters whom he shouldn't have beaten. One of which, Francis Carmont, was simply outfought for three rounds and forced to his back. Another, Cezar Ferreira, wasn't allowed to employ his brilliant BJJ in a 39 second blowout in Natal. This is neutral territory, against Michael Bisping, and he's lost two of his last three fights. Is it time for another upset?
3. TUF finalists
Standing at the center of the Canadian martial arts presence at UFC 186 are Chad Laprise and Olivier Aubin-Mercier.
Both became favorites in their homeland with a hard-fought TUF Nations final bout in which Laprise was crowned the Welterweight tournament winner by split decision.
Aubin-Mercier has since come back to breeze past Jake Lindsay in a second round submission win last October. Laprise has also since won in the octagon; beating Yosdenis Cedeno in his most recent UFC appearance. They aren't fighting each other again, but show some of the hallmarks of world-class fighters and could emerge as such within a couple of years. For now, they have all of the opportunity in the world and may look to outdo one another in their respective Lightweight showcase fights.
2. Tough gals
Alexis Davis and Sarah Kaufman match up really well. This one comes free -- on the preliminary show.
It's a gift to be had. Both have fallen against the best (Ronda Rousey, that is), but have earned a reputation as two of WMMA's toughest competitors. Either one can go three rounds and both rather the fight be rough-and-tumble, up close and personal. These ladies don't dance. What's not to like?
1. It's at the Bell Centre
Canadian MMA fans don't need a local boy to offer some vehemency in the backdrop. Part of what there is to enjoy about MMA is the crowd, and you're not getting one much better than in Montreal.
Oh, and, there are local athletes on the bill including Yves Jabouin, John Makdessi, and veteran Patrick Cote. The latter of which will top the Fox Sports 1 televised prelims, but may as well be the headliner for the Quebecois' loyal.
So, it could be a lot of fun. You can catch UFC 186 at 10 PM EST, Saturday, live on Pay-Per-View. The late prelims will be available on Fox Sports 1 from 8 PM EST. Three prelims will be shown exclusively on UFC Fight Pass from 6:30 PM EST. Catch it -- at your own risk.