Even though I maintain that the real money division in MMA is Light Heavyweight (it has been since the late 90s and will continue to be for the foreseeable future), the Heavyweights are still a major draw. People will always be impressed with big men who kick ass, plus it’s always re-assuring to see fighters that look more like you and me (re: only have a two or four pack at best).
This Saturday, the UFC’s doing something unique: an all-heavyweight card. Some injuries have occurred, naturally, that changed it up a bit and may have prevented this from being the supercard the UFC envisioned, but it still promises to be an entertaining evening of slobberknockers.
UFC 146: FAT GUYS THAT HIT HARD!*
- Junior dos Santos (c) vs. Frank Mir for the UFC Heavyweight Championship
Frank Mir steps in for Alistair Overeem, who ate too much damn horsemeat and popped a 14:1 T/E ratio for a surprise drug test that actually shouldn’t have been a surprise given they told him in advance to be prepared to be tested out of competition (, you buffoon). Frank Mir was the first and most logical choice. People seem to think he has no chance, but the story of Frank Mir is littered with situations where fans and fighters underestimated him at their peril. Personally, I was in the camp that thought after that motorcycle accident that he was done being an elite fighter, and yet here we are eight years later and he’s still a contender and legit top five in his division. Still, I think Dos Santos is too quick, hits too hard, and is too wily for Mir.
PICK: Junior Dos Santos via R1 KO
- Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva
This fight was created out necessity because of the Overeem debacle. Cain was Mir’s original opponent, and Silva was scheduled to face Roy Nelson. I think both would have been more intriguing match-ups, though I think this one is going to be a tougher fight for Velasquez than people think. MMA is a very “what have you done for me lately” sport, and as such, the most recent impression people have of Antonio “Big Foot” Silva was his poor display against Cormier last September. However, that fight should come with the disclaimer that Silva is much better than he showed that night and Cormier, then and still to an extent now, is the most underrated fighter in the game. That said, I’m still going with Velasquez, who’s stronger and has a deeper toolbox than Bigfoot. I think he got caught by Dos Santos in the same way every guy eventually does, and I’m convinced a title rematch would have a different outcome. I think we’ll see that happen with a decisive win here.
PICK: Cain Velasquez via Unanimous Decision
- Heavyweight bout: Roy Nelson vs. Dave Herman
Nelson has become a gatekeeper for the division, which some people expected as soon as he was signed by the UFC and won the all-heavyweight season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” As a guy who looks at MMA as more sport than entertainment, Nelson frustrates me because he often trains and fights with the entertainment aspect in mind, and it costs him dearly whenever he has to face a top 5 fighter. Herman has far less experience than Nelson at the upper echelon of MMA, but he’s a wickedly dangerous slugger that can and I think will draw Nelson into the same old bad habits that have cost him in three of his last four fights.
PICK: Dave Herman via KO R3
- Heavyweight bout: Stipe Miočić vs. Shane del Rosario
This fight is getting the least attention out of any on the main card, but in my mind it’s the most interesting. Both guys are undefeated against decent competition and have a strong all-around pedigree: Miočić is a fierce striker with a legit collegiate wrestling background and del Rosario is a Muay Thai champion with dangerous Jiu-Jitsu. This one’s as close to a push as you’ll get on this card. I’m going (hesitantly) with del Rosario, though Miočić can pull it off if he can manage to avoid del Rosario’s onslaught and effectively utilize his wrestling.
PICK: Shane del Rosario via R2 TKO
- Heavyweight bout: Stefan Struve vs. Lavar Johnson
Johnson is the type of fighter that is Struve’s kryptonite: an aggressive heavy-hitter who won’t give him room to recover. Struve has skills and a freakish reach, but he’s also a slow starter with a habit of taking bad beatings before he gets going. I’m going with the upset on this one.
PICK: Lavar Johnson by R1 KO.
- Featherweight bout: Mike Brown vs. Daniel Pineda
- Light Heavyweight bout: Kyle Kingsbury vs. Glover Teixeira
- Lightweight bout: Jacob Volkmann vs. Paul Sass
I’m hoping for a knockout win for Sass, just so we don’t have to hear Volkmann’s painfully unfunny dumbass “jokes” afterwards.
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- Welterweight bout: Dan Hardy vs. Duane Ludwig
- Middleweight bout: Jason Miller vs. C.B. Dollaway
Jason Miller has said that if he can’t win this fight he probably doesn’t belong in the UFC. He’s right, and if that does happen I think Dana White et al will agree.
- Lightweight bout: Edson Barboza vs. Jamie Varner
- Featherweight bout: Diego Brandao vs. Darren Elkins