Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, June 13, 2014 | 5:30 p.m.
Andrei Arlovski received a miniature standing ovation as he entered Rogers Arena for the UFC 174 weigh-in.
Rory MacDonald got the full-fledged treatment. A boisterous crowd showed up a day before Vancouver’s first UFC event in three years to see all 22 fighters come in on weight and make the card official.
But their enthusiasm was more pronounced for fights before the flyweight championship main event between Demetrious Johnson (125) and Ali Bagautinov (124.5).
Heavyweight has long been considered the most popular division in combat sports, making it no surprise that former champion Arlovski (249.5) brought about a quarter of the arena out of their seats. Arlovski appears in the octagon for the first time in seven years against Brendan Schaub (238) on Saturday’s pay-per-view, which begins at 7 p.m., and anticipation is at a high.
Arlovski and Schaub went nose-to-nose during their staredown, ignored UFC President Dana White’s directions to break and held the pose for a few extra seconds. They shook hands as they walked off stage, but fans’ appetite for intensity was sated.
A few minutes later, those still in their seats were brought up with the arrival of MacDonald (171). The 24-year-old is the most prominent fighter from the province, and has longed for a chance to fight here since a narrow loss to Carlos Condit in Vancouver four years ago.
His opponent Tyron Woodley (170.5) tried the old cheap tactic of wearing a hometown jersey, in this case Vancouver Canucks threads, but that only succeeded in lowering the volume of boos.
Woodley is fresh of a second-round win via injury TKO over Condit, who was on hand for a question-and-answer session with fans.
“Initially, when I first heard about the matchup, I thought Rory would most likely be able to use his jab, use his distance and pick Woodley apart,” Condit said. “But in the last few days, I’ve been thinking about it and I’m not sure he’s going to be able to do that with Woodley’s speed and explosiveness, so I can’t give you a prediction right now. I’m expecting a great fight.”
Not many people are as indecisive on the main event. Johnson is a 5-to-1 favorite to retain his title over Bagautinov, one reason why the buzz has fallen elsewhere.
“I think he’s a great fighter,” Johnson said in his final comments from the stage. “But I’m the best in his division. I’ve beaten the best I’m excited to do it again Saturday night.”
Their interaction at the weigh-in proved awkward. Bagautinov raised his hands to the sky and looked up instead of into Johnson’s eyes.
That was right after Johnson finished flexing both of his breast muscles in a fluctuating motion on the scale.
“I’m thinking about enjoying the victory by myself and with the city,” the fighter from Dagestan said through a translator.
The city sounded more invested in celebrating a victory with MacDonald or Arlovski.
Check below for full results from the UFC 174 weigh-in.
Flyweight championship bout: Demetrious Johnson (125) vs. Ali Bagautinov (124.5)
Welterweight bout: Rory MacDonald (171) vs. Tyron Woodley (170.5)
Light heavyweight bout: Ryan Bader (205) vs. Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante (204.5)
Heavyweight bout: Andrei Arlovski (249.5) vs. Brendan Schaub (238)
Light heavyweight bout: Ovince St. Preux (205.5) vs. Ryan Jimmo (204.5)
Welterweight bout: Daniel Sarafian (171) vs. Kichi Kunimoto (170)
Women’s bantamweight bout: Valerie Letourneau (134.5) vs. Elizabeth Phillips (136)
Bantamweight bout: Yves Jabouin (136) vs. Mike Easton (135)
Lightweight bout: Kajan Johnson (155) vs. Tae Hyun Bang (156)
Bantamweight bout: Roland Delorme (135) vs. Michinori Tanaka (135)
Lightweight: Jason Saggo (155.5) vs. Josh Shockley (155.5)