Dos Santos v Mir
At UFC 146 on Saturday night history will be made when, for the first time ever, the main UFC fight card will be an all heavyweight affair in Las Vegas. Junior Dos Santos tops the bill by putting his title on the line against Frank Mir. And I'm feeling an upset in the offing...
Having dismantled former champ Cain Velasquez in blistering fashion (subsequently earning him yet another Knockout Of The Night accolade thanks, largely, to a crushing overhand right) back in November last year, Junior ‘Cigano’ Dos Santos will be aiming to kickstart his reign in the heavyweight division in a similar style. Blessed with tremendous striking skills, a mixed martial arts record of 14-1, and recognised by many in the game as the best heavyweight out there it’s not difficult to see why he’s the overwhelming favourite at 1.18.
However, the one thing the UFC can promise is this: a nice dollop of unpredictability. And that could well be the key to a fight that is essentially an intriguing match up of a submission artist – Mir still holds the record in the heavyweight division for most submissions – against a huge puncher, which Dos Santos unquestionably is.
The outcome of this fight will rest largely on Mir’s approach. At 4.40 Mir is the outsider and given that his weaknesses have been exploited in the past by big hitters such as Shane Carwin, it’s understandable he’s expected to be blown away by Dos Santos’ sheer power. He also wasn’t actually the original contender. That honour fell to Alistair Overeem who failed a pre-fight drugs test thus Mir was drafted in.
Consider this though: Mir is by no means a patsy and this fight gives him yet another, maybe last, chance to regain the title he claimed way back in 2004. More importantly, though, he’ll be buoyed by his demolition of MMA legend Antonio ‘Minotauro’ Nogueira in his last fight which saw him lock in a kimura so deep he actually broke Nogueira’s right arm. Interestingly Mir also broke his opponents, (Tim Sylvia) right arm when he lifted the vacant heavyweight belt in 2004. An omen of sorts perhaps?
If Mir can stay away from those Dos Santos bombs (let’s not forget Dos Santos is on an 8 fight UFC winning streak too) and take it to the ground the belt could be his. If he doesn’t shift himself around that Octagon though he’ll be in trouble. Mir may also have history on his side because the longest run of successful UFC heavyweight title defenses is a measly two. This belt doesn’t stay in one place for very long at all and that’s why I’d take Mir at 4.40 to win by submission.
Velasquez v Silva
Elsewhere on the card the impressive Cain Velasquez will be trying to climb his way back into contention for his own title shot against a UFC debutante in the shape of Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva. Velasquez is installed as favourite and you can get him at 1.22 but this is his first time back in the Octagon since losing to Dos Santos. The big question is: how will he respond against an awkward character like Silva who’s MMA record of 16-3 with 11 knockouts is not too shabby with a list of conquests including the likes of Fedor Emelianenko. Ultimately, an outsider who’s coming off the back of a loss himself but at 3.90 Silva could be worth it.
Roy ‘Big Country’ Nelson also makes his return to the Octagon against Dave Herman. Nelson has previously gone the distance with Dos Santos and needs to get his title challenge back on track. At 1.42 I’d take him to overcome his opponent.
Away from the heavyweight card there’s an exciting welterweight clash on the preliminary card where the UK’s Dan ‘The Outlaw’ Hardy takes on Duane ‘Bang’ Ludwig. Coming off the back of a 4 fight-losing streak, in all honesty, Hardy is lucky he hasn’t been cut from the UFC. Lose this fight and he may find himself without a contract. If there’s one thing you can say about Hardy his fights are always entertaining. He desperately needs to get back to winning ways and at 1.67 I fancy him to do just that. There’s too much at stake for him not to.