VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Rory MacDonald's first attempt at a UFC win in his hometown came up short back in 2010. His second attempt did not.
MacDonald (17-2) moved a step closer to a UFC welterweight title shot on Saturday, defeating Tyron Woodley via unanimous decision at UFC 174 inside Rogers Arena. All three judges scored the contest 30-27 in favor of MacDonald.
A British Columbia native, MacDonald looked terrific in improving his UFC record to 8-2 all time. One of those losses came in heartbreaking fashion in Vancouver at UFC 115, when Carlos Condit finished MacDonald with just 7 seconds left.
MacDonald's return trip to his hometown went vastly different. According to cageside stats, he outstruck Woodley 121 to 55.
Woodley (13-3) looked nothing like the explosive power puncher who had finished Josh Koscheck and Condit in his past two fights. MacDonald expertly backed him into the cage throughout the fight, negating his speed advantage.
MacDonald attacked with body kicks early, which appeared to break Woodley down by the final round. With the exception of a few early bursts and a handful of outside leg kicks in the second round, Woodley failed to create any sort of offense.
Fighting out of Tristar Gym in Montreal, MacDonald took the former collegiate wrestler down in the final round. Woodley offered even less off his back than he had on the feet. The fight ended with the hometown crowd on its feet, as MacDonald trapped Woodley's right arm between his legs and landed a string of left hands.
The jab and front push kicks were major weapons for MacDonald and contributed to his ability to cut off the cage. Woodley, who was soundly beaten but never close to being finished, applauded MacDonald on his way out of the arena.
It is arguably the biggest win of MacDonald's career. The 24-year-old has been considered something of an heir to longtime UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, who vacated the title late last year.
MacDonald has now gone the distance in each of his past five fights, four of which he has won. He suffered a split decision loss to Robbie Lawler at UFC 167 in November. Woodley sees a two-fight win streak snapped.
ESPN.com ranks MacDonald the No. 3 welterweight in the world.
Bader cruises past Cavalcante
Don't pencil Ryan Bader into the role of "gatekeeper" just yet.
Bader (17-4) improved his mark in the UFC to 10-4 with a unanimous decision win against Rafael Cavalcante. All three judges scored it a shutout for Bader, 30-27.
"I thought he would come out more explosively in the first round, but he wasn't able to turn it on until the third," Bader said. "Going into this fight, I knew that I was going to have to put him against the fence and grind him out.
"Feijao is one of the hardest hitters in the division and I wanted to take away that one punch KO power."
Other than a hard two-punch combination from Cavalcante (12-5) early in the third round, Bader was dominant in a fight he admitted beforehand would say a lot about the direction of his career. As for now, that direction appears to be up.
Cavalcante's demise came at the hands of Bader's offensive wrestling, which put him on his back in each of the three rounds. Bader shot relentlessly throughout the light heavyweight fight, scoring seven takedowns out of 16 attempts.
Even when Cavalcante was successful in defending the takedown, he was rarely in a position to land one of his patented power punches. When Bader wasn't latched onto him, he peppered him with jabs and counter hooks to keep distance.
Bader's best work came in the first round, as he landed hard punches and a big knee to Cavalcante's midsection as he was turtled near the fence. Cavalcante showed a little frustration in the second round, flailing badly on a right hand haymaker.
The Brazilian came out aggressively in the last frame and nearly got the result he was looking for. He caught Bader with a left hook, right cross combination that had him shook. Bader responded by shooting immediately and eventually got him down.
Bader is on a two-fight win streak, his first win streak since 2012. ESPN.com ranked Bader the No. 8 light heavyweight in the world coming into the fight. Cavalcante falls to 1-2 in the UFC.
Arlovski wins in return to Octagon
Andrei Arlovski is back in the UFC -- and he's already fallen into controversy.
Fighting in the Octagon for the first time since 2008, Arlovski (21-11) earned a controversial split decision over Brendan Schaub (10-4) in a heavyweight fight.
"My arms and legs were shaking during the walk out and [during] the first round," Arlovski said. "I was very excited but also very nervous to be back inside the Octagon.
"It feels so good to be home. The reception I got from the fans was incredible. It felt so great to be welcomed and appreciated by them after so long. I definitely won't forget this moment."
A former UFC champion, Arlovski appeared tentative throughout all three rounds. He repeatedly held Schaub in clinches near the fence, where he would throw knees and short punches to the body.
Schaub struggled at times to get off the fence, but clearly held an advantage when the fight was in the open. He landed several overhand rights in the first and second rounds, usually following it with a left hook.
In the second round, Arlovski opened a small cut near Schaub's right eye. He scored a left hook in the final round that caused major swelling around Schaub's jawline.
Schaub converted on a hard takedown in the third round, though, and scored points with hammerfists and punches from Arlovski's open guard. With one minute left, Arlovski managed to get to his feet, but couldn't land anything significant.
Immediate cageside stats had Schaub out-landing Arlovski in total strikes 65 to 40.
Arlovski has now won three fights in a row and six of his past seven. The loss snaps a two-fight win streak for Schaub.
St. Preux submits Jimmo
Ovince St. Preux remains unbeaten in the UFC and possibly in line for a big light heavyweight fight. St. Preux (16-5) extended his current win streak to five with a submission win over Ryan Jimmo at 2:10 of the second round. The finish came via kimura.
It was a relatively easy win for the Tennessee native, as he took little damage in the first round on his feet before taking Jimmo to the ground in the second round.
"The finish was just a chicken wing, like we all used to do in high school wrestling back in the day," St. Preux said. "I'm still young in the sport and I'm improving all the time.
"I have a lot to learn and every fight can't be perfect. The truth is that I work out in an unorthodox gym with unorthodox guys, and this is normal for us. That's beginners' stuff for me."
In the opening minute of the second frame, St. Preux caught a body kick attempt and dumped Jimmo on his back. He quickly passed into full mount, which forced Jimmo to give up his back.
Jimmo (19-4) escaped but got pinned in a turtle position near the fence. St. Preux landed a few punches, before attacking the left arm of Jimmo. Jimmo was forced to verbally tap immediately.