• UFC 146 preview

Go big or go home on heavyweight UFC 146 card

ESPN staff
May 25, 2012
Junior Dos Santos v Frank Mir Countdown

Revenge or fear... which feeling burns strongest when you see your jiu-jitsu mentor have his arm broken by the man you now face? That is the situation facing Junior Dos Santos as he meets Frank Mir on a truly heavyweight UFC 146 card this weekend.

Mir is the most successful UFC heavyweight of all time; Dos Santos could well prove the most dominant. But the champ faces the reality of knowing no previous heavyweight king has ever defended his belt more than twice. In other words, many don't successfully defend it all.

The card is stacked full of big men this weekend, with former champ Cain Velasquez featuring in the co-main, while further down the card Dan Hardy fights for his UFC future and Edson Barboza bids to add more weight to his claims for a lightweight title crack. We preview the two biggest fights below...

Dos Santos: Mir doesn't have enough speed

Junior Dos Santos v Frank Mir

Where the fight could be won or lost: Frank Mir can't let the fight come to him. No-one can beat Junior Dos Santos at the distance game. If Mir stands on the outside and tries to react, he'll lose. He needs to push inside and make it an ugly fight. That's easier said than done. Dos Santos is the better athlete, and he's got terrific footwork. He knows Mir's best shot is to get inside, so he'll be wary of what range the fight takes place at.

As much as we've heard about Dos Santos' ground game, expect him to avoid the mat in this fight like the plague. This one is all about distance and imposing will. Dos Santos is the favourite for sure, but odds-on at 1/5? Mir will have offensive opportunities in this fight, and if it does go to the ground, are you comfortable laying that much on the Brazilian?

The pick: Junior Dos Santos - KO

Velasquez: I want that belt back

Cain Velasquez v Antonio Silva

Where the fight could be won or lost: Antonio Silva is very big. He's got technique to what he does, but frankly, his size is perhaps his greatest asset. He's light on his feet for a heavyweight, but it doesn't translate into lateral movement. He backs guys up to the fence by letting his hands go, then throws his weight on them. It's hard to see that working against Cain Velasquez.

Velasquez won't mess around here. He's going to make Silva look slow, circling away from his power, and dictating the range with his superior speed and footwork. Expect him to take Silva down relatively easily. That's bad news, because his pace is overwhelming on top and he doesn't give up position for sub attempts, opting for control and punches instead. This should be some good old vintage Velasquez. He's going to take Silva down. That's happening. Silva isn't bad on the ground, and if he sweeps the former champ once or twice, don't be shocked. But Velasquez is just the better man on the ground, and that's where this will take place.

The pick: Cain Velasquez - TKO

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