Top MMA News Breaks Down UFC 146: Dos Santos vs. Mir
The UFC is back at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC 146 on May 26th. This all Heavyweight main card will be headlined by UFC Heavyweight Champion, Junior ‘Cigano’ Dos Santos defending his belt against former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Frank Mir. This event marks the first time in the organizations history where all five main card bouts are Heavyweight fights. Though the event was plagued with injuries and a key suspension, few cards have the depth from top to bottom as this one does. The five Heavyweight main card bouts will be aired live on Pay-Per-View. There will be four preliminary bouts that will aired live on FX in the US and Sportsnet in Canada. The remaining three fights will be aired live on facebook.
Now for the breakdown:
Heavyweight Champion Junior Dos Santos (14-1) –525 vs. Frank Mir (16-5) +350
After number one contender Alistair Overeem was unable to be sanctioned to fight for the title, Frank Mir was given the opportunity to replace him and deservedly so. Mir is going up against title holder Junior Dos Santos, who has literally shown no flaws throughout his career. After winning eight fights in the UFC, including a minute long title fight where he finished former Champion Cain Velasquez in dominating fashion, Dos Santos is finally set to defend his title for the first time against a long time UFC veteran. Though Junior seems flawless, we have yet to see his ground game. If there is one guy that can truly test his ground game, it is Mir. If Mir gets his hands on his opponent’s arms or legs, you can pretty much guarantee something will be broken or dislocated. He was the first ever fighter to knockout Dos Santos’ trainer and living legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira as well as being the only man to ever submit the BJJ master. Those are two accomplishments many would rather have than a World Championship.
Mir has looked like his old self in his last three fights. If there is one thing he struggles with, however, it is how he reacts to getting punched in the face. There has been many times where we have seen him falter as soon as someone lands on his chin. Nogueira rocked him before being submitted, Shane Carwin put him down with relative ease and he completely broke down in his second fight with Brock Lesnar. Dos Santos has an easy game plan: do not let the fight go to the ground and hit Mir early and often. Mir has never been known for his ability to get a fight to the ground. He will likely need to cut off the cage and not allow Dos Santos to circle around him. He needs to make the Octagon as small as possible and latch onto the Champion and finish the fight. If he is unable to do that, it could very well be a short night for Mir while Dos Santos gets the sweet taste of revenge for his mentor. Fans can pretty much expect that Mir will see stars by the end of the night (though anything can happen in a fight).
Prediction: Dos Santos via KO Round 1
Cain Velasquez (9-1) –435 vs. Antonio Silva (16-3) +300
Former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Cain Velasquez, is set to return to form against UFC newcomer and Strikeforce veteran, Antonio ‘Big Foot’ Silva. This fight carries a lot of intrigue considering Velasquez’s friend and training partner, Daniel Cormier, had recently fought and knocked out Silva within a round. The questions surrounding this bout will be what did Cain learn from Cormier’s performance that he can utilize against the massive Brazilian and how did Silva improve since that performance? Velasquez will likely want to avoid the BJJ of Silva because if he manages to end up on his back, there is no doubt that Velasquez will be put to sleep by Silva’s HEAVY top control and ground and pound. There is no denying that Velasquez will want to use his wrestling, speed and quickness to move away from any clinching or grappling. He is an amazing wrestler and if he can get top control, he can probably beat down on Big Foot with some speedy and accurate ground and pound but there is no use risking it and he is smart enough to know that. Silva has power in his hands but his striking is rudimentary and slow. He likely will not be able to catch the much more agile Velasquez, who is a more talented and effective striker than Cormier. Are we going to see the same hesitant Cain Velasquez that we seen back in November when he lost the title? It is safe to say that a guy with a work ethic like Cain will never allow us to witness that again. Expect Velasquez to avoid being put on his back as he dominates the fight on the feet and accurately picks the Brazilian apart. Odds are this fight turns out a lot like Cormier/Silva.
Prediction: Velasquez via TKO Round 2
Roy Nelson (16-7) –230 vs. Dave Herman (21-3) +170
After winning his first two fights in the UFC by knockout, Ultimate Fighter winner Roy Nelson has not been so impressive. He has his hands full with Dave Herman, who is coming off of a tough loss to Stefan Struve but has the talent to be one of the top Heavyweights in the division. Roy has struggled against athletic fighters that are able to fight at a fast pace that he is unable to keep up with. One thing everyone knows for certain about Nelson is that there is a very small chance he gets knocked out. No matter how much punishment he endures in a fight, he will likely keep on fighting. He has one punch knockout power and top level BJJ. If he can grab onto Herman and push him up against the Octagon and tire him out, he could get the fight to the ground and finish it however he wants. Herman did not look impressive against Struve and is a much better fighter than he showed. He is willing to get into wars with fighters and is fine with taking punishment. Unfortunately, if he does that against Nelson, he may not be able to handle his power. Herman is a very good wrestler and is good enough to avoid being taken down by Nelson but with a short training camp because he was a late replacement, odds are he is going to end up in a war. Herman has better hands but Nelson has the better power and arguably the most proven chin in the division. This should be a very exciting fight that goes back and forth but Nelson will likely be able to catch Herman and have him backpedaling until the fight gets to the ground. There, he will be able to finish the fight as Herman tends to get lost when he is on his back.
Prediction: Nelson via Arm Triangle Round 2
Stipe Miocic (8-0) –175 vs. Shane Del Rosario (11-0) +135
Rarely do MMA fans have the opportunity to watch two undefeated Heavyweights with as much potential as Stipe Miocic and Shane Del Rosario. This fight is getting the least amount of appreciation on the card but it has the potential to be the best. Miocic is one of the many late replacements on the main card so Del Rosario already has the advantage considering he has had a full training camp. Both fighters are virtually identical in many aspects such as size. On the feet, the fight is just about even with Del Rosario being a Thai specialist while Miocic has excellent boxing. Miocic is the much better wrestler of the two but Del Rosario has excellent submission skills and trains with top level wrestlers. Although both are relatively new to the sport, Del Rosario is much more experienced and had his first professional fight long before Miocic ever did. The fight may come down to intangibles, whether it is who had the better training camp, or if ring rust will play a major factor for Del Rosario, who has not fought in over a year and has yet to fight in the UFC. Miocic, an All-American wrestler, will need to use avoid clinching with Del Rosario and constantly circle the Octagon and pick his spots. He has to avoid the Strikeforce veteran’s sharp kicks and get the better of him by using the power in his hands. If he gets into trouble, his only option to bail himself out is using his wrestling to try dominating from top position. Del Rosario will need to push forward and constantly use leg kicks to slow down Miocic and try to get into clinches. He is not as strong as Miocic, but from a MMA point of view, he is the more technical fighter. He has to stay busy from start to finish, frustrating Miocic. It is near impossible to predict this fight so anything at this point is just a guess so let’s go ahead and say Miocic manages to overpower Del Rosario and wins a close decision.
Prediction: Miocic via Unanimous Decision
Stefan Struve (23-5) –120 vs. Lavar Johnson (17-5) –110
It is unfortunate that fans will not have the opportunity to watch Mark Hunt fight, but Lavar Johnson is not a bad late replacement for the Pride veteran. He will be going up against a skyscraper in Stefan Struve, who is coming off of a couple of impressive victories over Pat Barry and Dave Herman. One knock on Struve has been his ability to take a punch and his inability to use his ridiculous height and 84 inch reach to his advantage. Johnson is a massive and intimidating Heavyweight with some of the nastiest knockout power you will see in MMA but he has arguably the worst grappling you will see in the sport. This fight is simple, Lavar needs to get in close to Struve and knock him out to win this fight and Struve needs to find a way to get this fight to the mat so he can submit Johnson. As both fighters have proven, neither is all that hard to do. It is literally who will be able to get it done first. If Struve is unwilling to keep his distance until he manages to get the fight to the ground, it is almost a sure thing that he will be put to sleep. If Johnson gets himself stuck at poor angles and manages to get clinched and taken down by the Dutch fighter, it is almost a guarantee that he will tap shortly after. Struve has an outstanding top game and he can catch a fighter in several submissions off of his back; however, Lavar hits too hard. As they say, every round starts on the feet.
Prediction: Johnson via KO Round 1