UFC 146 BIG 3 PREVIEW

BY: CHRIS PALMA

This Saturday the Ultimate Fighting Championships makes its return to Las Vegas, bolstering an all heavyweight main card. The first time in recent history that the promotion will have all 5 pay per view fights coming out of possibly its thinnest, yet hardest hitting division. With not one fight on the main card being originally scheduled, it is a miracle that UFC brass was able to pull off this event. Especially since UFC Heavyweight Champ Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos’s original opponent, Alistair Overeem failed a pre-fight urinalysis, showing elevated levels of testosterone.

If Cigano was having any trouble getting motivated for this fight, he will no longer face such angst. He now has a chance to get revenge for long time trainer and mentor Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who had his humerous snapped into pieces by challenger Frank Mir, when he last stepped into the Octagon at UFC 140. Cigano will face Frank Mir in the main event this Saturday. The main event is preceded by a scrap between the last man to hold the Heavyweight strap Cain Velasquez taking on Antonio “Big Foot” Silva in Silva’s first appearance into the UFC. The rest of the main card is rounded out by Stefan Struve vs Lavar Johnson, Dave Herman vs Roy Nelson, and Stipe Miocic vs Shane Del Rosario.

UFC Heavyweight Championship

Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos (14-1, 8-0 UFC) Vs. Frank Mir (16-5,14-5 UFC)

Taking a quick glance at this fight, this appears to be an easy night of work for Cigano. Junior has the heavier hands and knockout power, which has given Mir problems in his past UFC appearances. Of his 8 UFC opponents, only 2 have went the distance with the champ, both absorbing plenty of punishment on their way to lopsided unanimous decision losses. For a heavyweight, Dos Santos employs impressive foot work, and movement from the outside. He changes angles very well, and has shown to possess knockout power in either hand, stopping 11 of his 14 opponents inside the first round. He makes very good work of his jab, and knows how to keep his opponents off balance and guessing. He has also shown glimpses of powerful kicks and knees, although I do not expect to see them in this fight, for the fear of being taken down.

Frank Mir has a wealth of big fight experience in the octagon, as well as a number of UFC title fights, so big fight jitters will not be something he has to worry about. Being his 20th fight inside the UFC cage, Frank Mir’s bread and butter has not changed at all since he first entered the UFC. His submission game is among the best in the world for a heavyweight. 9 of his 16 professional wins have come by way of submission.

Although Mir has displayed improved standup, his stand-up is no where near the caliber of the champ. Mir’s best chance of winning this fight is undoubtedly on the canvas. He will be looking to close the distance, tie up the champ, and look for takedowns. Only two of Dos Santos’s opponents have been able to succeed with a takedown on him. However, within seconds, he was able to scramble back to his feet. If Mir is able to succeed with a trip or takedown, look for him to lock on a quick submission and to not allow the champ back up to his feet.

THE PICK

Although Frank Mir has the submission game to beat the champ, I do not believe he possess the tools to be able to bring this fight to the ground. Expect Cigano’s power to be too much for his opponent, as he drops Mir with a big right hand. The champ will have to be very careful to not get baited into a ground exchange with Mir. Mir has shown gruesome submission strength in the past. Barring the previous, expect the champ to retain the belt after dropping Mir, and following up with a few more big punches. KO Rd. 1

Cain Velasquez (9-1,7-1 UFC) vs Antonio “Big Foot” Silva (16-3,0-0 UFC)

Cain Velasquez returns to action since losing his belt to Dos Santos last year. After suffering the first loss of his professional career, he welcomes Antonio Silva to the octagon. Even after that loss, Cain is sill among the elite at heavyweight. The American Kickboxing Academy representative possesses a solid stand up arsenal which includes both powerful kicks and punches. Which makes him imminently more dangerous is that he mixes in takedowns incredibly well with his strikes, as well as having some of the most active ground and pound in MMA.

Making his first appearance in the UFC, Antonio Silva has a tough test in front of him. Big Foot is a massive heavyweight standing in at 6 foot 4, 265 lbs. Throughout his career, he has depended on his sheer size and strength to over whelm his opponents. He showed strength in his fight with the legendary Fedor Emelianenko. He took down, mounted, and bludgeoned the former longtime #1 ranked heavyweight with vicious ground and pound. He will look to do the same thing to the former UFC champ, but will find out that Cain possess some of the best wrestling in the division.

THE PICK

Expect this fight to play out very similar to Silva’s last fight against Velasquez’s AKA teammate, Daniel Cormier. In that fight, Silva was knocked out by a faster, more agile and more athletic of an opponent. The only difference in this fight, is that Silva now faces a better version of Cormier. Cane is faster, and possesses a more well rounded stand up attack than Cormier. Expect Cain to take control of this fight early, landing fast combinations on Silva, before planting him on the mat. From here, Velasquez will ground and pound his opponent until the referee saves him from further damage. Cain Velasquez TKO rd 2

Stefan Struve (23-5,7-3 UFC) vs Lavar Johnson (17-5, 2-0 UFC)

Hard hitting Lavar Johnson looks to add another victory to his UFC resume as he steps up on very short notice to take on Stefan Struve. Johnson last appeared in the UFC on Fox 3 card, where he knocked out fellow fan favorite Pat Barry in front of a national tv audience. He will look to make this his second UFC win in 21 days, but it will be no easy test as he faces 6 foot 11 Dutchman, Stefan “Hightower” Struve.

There is no secret to Johnson’s game plan. He will be looking to knock out Struve, as he has done so in 15 of his 17 victories. Johnson will be looking to push Struve up against the cage and unleash some of his thudding hooks or uppercuts.

Struve a notorious slow starter, has already had 10 fights inside the UFC cage and only is the young age of 24. With such a lanky frame, Struve can be a tough fight for any opponent. He has a solid kickboxing game, but his bread and butter will always be his submission game. With such lanky limbs it is easy for him to tie up opponents and sink in fight ending submissions. Of his 23 professional wins, 15 have come by way of submission. That can spell trouble for Johnson, who has been submitted 4 out of 5 of his professional losses.

THE PICK

The trouble with picking this fight is the fact that Struve tends to like to test the water standing early in fights. This has come back to haunt him, being knocked out by Dos Santos, Roy Nelson, and Travis Brown all in the first round. If he decides to try and stand and trade with Johnson early on, this fight can surely end in similar fashion. However, while Johnson is a solid stand up fighter, his ground game is not any where near elite. Pat Barry, (yes Pat Barry) had Johnson in serious trouble early in their fight. Johnson was mounted and almost submitted with a key lock by the former professional kick boxer. Expect Struve to play Johnson game for a minute of two, but once he tastes Lavar’s power, expect him to immediately take the fight to the mat. Form there it will only be a matter of time before the lanky Dutchman locks on a fight ending submission. Struve via submission round 1.

THE PICK

The trouble with picking this fight is the fact that Struve tends to like to test the water standing up early in fights. This has come back to haunt him, being knocked out by Dos Santos, Roy Nelson, and Travis Brown all in the first round. If he decides to try and stand and trade with Johnson early on, this fight can surely end in similar fashion. However, while Johnson is a solid stand up fighter, his ground game is not any where near elite. Pat Barry (yes Pat Barry) had Johnson in serious trouble early in their fight. Johnson was mounted and almost submitted with a key lock by the former professional kickboxer. Expect Struve to play Johnson’s game for a minute of two, but once he tastes Lavar’s power, expect him to immediately take the fight to the mat. From there, it will only be a matter of time before the lanky Dutchman locks on a fight ending submission. Struve via submission round 1.


ENTIRE UFC 146 FIGHT CARD

Main Card (on Pay-Per-View):
-Junior dos Santos (14-1) vs. Frank Mir (16-5)
-Cain Velasquez (9-1) vs. Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (16-3)
-Roy Nelson (16-7) vs. Dave Herman (21-3)
-Shane Del Rosario (11-0) vs. Stipe Miocic (8-0)
-Stefan Struve (23-5) vs. Lavar Johnson (17-5)

Preliminary Bouts (on FX):
-Diego Brandao (14-7) vs. Darren Elkins (13-2)
-Edson Barboza (10-0) vs. Jamie Varner (19-6)
-Jason “Mayhem” Miller (23-8) vs. C.B. Dollaway (11-4)
-Dan Hardy (23-10) vs. Duane “Bang” Ludwig (21-12)

Preliminary Bouts (on Facebook):
-Jacob Volkmann (14-2) vs. Paul Sass (12-0)
-Kyle Kingsbury (11-3) vs. Glover Teixeira (17-2)
-Mike Brown (25-8) vs. Daniel Pineda (17-7)

Here is the information on how to order the UFC 146 event: http://www.ufc.com/event/UFC146#/fight
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