A preview of this weekends UFC 146 event, which features an all heavyweight main card and could be a night filled with quick finishes.
Junior dos Santos vs. Frank Mir: If there’s a more inconstantly great fighter than Mir, I’d like to know who he is. Win or lose, Mir fights usually finish quickly and spectacularly, and during most of those wins, he’s nearly defeated until he decides to rip off an arm or a leg. He’s not a bad striker, and he moves pretty well for a heavyweight, but his chin might be one of the worst in MMA. That’s not a good recipe for success against JDS, who might possess the best one punch power in MMA. If Mir can get this fight to the ground, he has a good chance at winning since his killer instinct on the mat in second to none and he’s not letting go of a limb until it’s broken, but how he gets it there will be a problem. He can try to clinch, but we all saw what Shane Carwin and Rodrigo Nogueira did to him in the clinch and JDS has a pretty strong clinch game himself. He can try a shot, but Mir isn’t an explosive wrestler and JDS appears to have above average takedown defense. Honestly, I wouldn’t be opposed to Mir trying to pull guard because at least then he can try and sweep or work his guard. I know it’s not ideal to have JDS on top of you, raining down punches, but it might be Mir’s only option if he wants to turn this fight into a grappling contest. On the feet, this fight is all JDS. He’s the best boxer in the division and he gets it done with offensive boxing and counter punching. His punches are fast, accurate, and powerful. He has a great jab, goes to the body early to set up his over the top stuff, and counters kicks better than anyone since Wanderlei Silva. He also seems to have a pretty solid chin, so if Mir gets one, expect JDS to take it and fire back with two or three. I don’t want to completely write off Mir, because he is a top-level heavyweight with a great submission game, but I just can’t see how he wins this fight unless he gets it to the ground, which might be the toughest task of his career. I figure that the fight starts a little slow with both men feeling things out and then JDS explodes with a punch that puts Mir down and out.
Prediction: Dos Santos, TKO, Round 1
Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva: Despite his 64 second loss to Dos Santos, Velasquez is still one of the most talented fighters in the sport. His biggest problem though is that he gets hit way too much, but his speed allows him to give three while taking one. That speed is one of his big advantages over Silva, who is a little slow on the feet and a bit overrated as striker. Silva’s at his best when he’s using his size to pun guys up against the fence or taking them down and pounding a hole in their head. That’s probably not going to work against Velasquez given his wrestling acumen. Silva also has a problem with getting hit too much, especially by overhand rights. Mike Kyle dropped him with an overhand right and Daniel Cormier dropped him twice with the same punch. It should be noted that both of those men train with Velasquez. I would hope that Silva has learned to keep his hands up a bit better, but given Velasquez’s speed and ability to set up punches, I have my doubts. If Velasquez wanted to, he could probably takedown Silva and ground and pound his way to victory, but I think he’ll be happy to trade with Silva, given that Silva doesn’t hit as hard as many people believe, and again, he’s not all that great of a striker. No matter how Velasquez decides to approach this fight, I think he takes out Silva sometime in the first.
Prediction: Velasquez, TKO, Round 1
Roy Nelson vs. Dave Herman: If there’s one heavyweight fight on this card that I think could be a stinker, it’s this one. Not that either man is a bad fighter, but neither guys have exactly lit the world on fire with their UFC performances and they’ve both had some cardio issues in their fights. Herman might be the better striker, but far better men than him have hit Nelson with everything but the kitchen sink and Nelson has continued to walk forward. So unless all the damage has just caught up to Nelson, I don’t see Herman taking him out on the feet. In fact, if Nelson is smart, he takes this fight to the ground and uses his superior grappling to completely out-class Herman. Nelson has legit skills on the ground, and at worst, he can put the moon on Herman and eclipse him. It’s pretty obvious that Nelson isn’t going to be taking out top-level competition, but he should be good enough to take out Herman.
Prediction: Nelson, Decision
Shane del Rosario vs. Stipe Miocic: I really like Del Rosario and what he brings to the table, but he hasn’t fought since last February and is returning from a pretty serious car accident, where many thought he wouldn’t fight again. Miocic has done well in the UFC, but if Del Rosario is on point, I think he takes this fight. Del Rosario is the more well-rounded and should be able to chop Miocic down with leg kicks. Del Rosario is also the better ground fighter with a pretty slick submission game off his back, so if Miocic decides to use his wrestling, I wouldn’t be shocked if Del Rosario is able to sweep or submit him. The problem is, due to Rosario’s layoff and injuries, I’m not 100% sold on him winning this fight because his timing likely won’t be there, he could be a bit hesitant, and his cardio might not be where it needs to be. I think he’ll go all out early though and overwhelm Miocic before we see whether or not the layoff has truly affected him.
Prediction: Del Rosario, TKO, Round 1
Stefan Struve vs. Lavar Johnson: This fight is going one of two ways: Either Johnson kills Struve early with his power or Struve submits Johnson early because Johnson might be the only person in the UFC with a worse ground game than Mark Hunt. Since Pat Barry was able to takedown Johnson is Struve isn’t afraid to pull guard, I figure Struve will be able to get Johnson to the ground one way or another. Once on the ground, Struve should have no problem locking on whatever submission he wants or even overwhelming Johnson from the mount, pending he doesn’t decide to move to side control.
Prediction: Struve, Submission, Round 1