Though the fights weren’t always as competitive as we would have liked, you can’t fault UFC 146 for a lack of great finishes, as the card offered those in abundance. In the main event, Frank Mir could not pose much of a threat to Junior dos Santos, who steadily outstruck the former heavyweight champ en route to a dominant second round victory.
The Fresh Matchup, Not the Best Matchup
Now, I can’t guarantee that this is what the UFC was thinking, but it seems obvious that the reason that Frank Mir was brought up to the main event to face reigning UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos was because the two had not faced one another before.
Meanwhile, Cain Velasquez, the number two heavyweight in the world and a man who has only been defeated by dos Santos, remained in his spot on the card, knowing he would need a good performance and a victory to ensure a title shot.
There are doubtlessly other factors- perhaps the UFC thought dos Santos-Velasquez II was too big to do with little time for promotion, for instance- but the UFC’s previous reluctance in previous situations where a rematch made some sense (at least rankings-wise) seems to prove my point. The point is that the UFC selected the fresh matchup instead of the best matchup, and the proof was all over the cage to see on Saturday night.
Mir simply did not belong out there with dos Santos. He tried just once for a takedown (and made it in pretty deep on the champ even if he couldn’t bring him down to the mat…I wondered why he abandoned efforts to take dos Santos down for the rest of the bout) and that was it. For the rest of the time, he plodded around the cage, trying not to get hit and to land some quality shots whenever he could. That didn’t work out, and dos Santos looked to be cruising en route to a decisive finish.
Meanwhile, Velasquez looked similarly dominant against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, who was making his UFC debut on Saturday night. As I figured he would, Velasquez went back to his excellent wrestling game and used some absolutely vicious ground and pound to turn Silva into a bloody mess and force a referee stoppage within one round. The best part? Cain didn’t even look satisfied after the fight. This is a man who is solely dedicated toward winning the title, and he may even be pretty salty that he was passed up in favor of Mir when Alistair Overeem was removed from the challenger’s spot.
I can’t fault him for that. While Bigfoot is surely no pushover (er- usually, anyway) and was a worthy opponent for Velasquez, Mir never had much of a chance of unseating dos Santos. Whether it was because this wasn’t the right time to promote a rematch between dos Santos and Velasquez or because they thought the fans would rather see dos Santos face someone he hadn’t fought before, the decision to throw Mir in there shows that the UFC still leans more towards “entertainment organization” than it does “sports organization”.
–Bigfoot said after the fight that the blood in his eyes was a big factor in the loss. Sure, it was. Then again, so was being taken down right away. Also, not having any answer to being punched in the face over and over was a bit of a problem. But yeah, along with those tiny things, the blood in the eyes (which, let’s not forget, was caused by a strike that Bigfoot failed to avoid or block) was probably an issue. It’s kinda like saying, “Well, he kicked my ass because I couldn’t see after he cut me earlier on when he was kicking my ass.” Okay, it’s exactly like saying that.
–Who figured we’d see Jamie Varner beating Edson Barboza? Yeah, me neither.
–Well, that was a strange, disappointing end to Jason “Mayhem” Miller’s strange, disappointing UFC career. Even with the worst standup Dana White’s ever seen, Mayhem managed to rock CB Dolloway in both the first and second rounds. However, he was unable to capitalize either time, the second time in particular because he seemed to be hobbled by an apparent knee injury. In the end, he was unable to get Dolloway off of him, and Dolloway wisely (if boringly) took the obvious, safe path to victory and outwrestled Miller, adding in some ground and pound later in the fight for good measure.
I don’t think Mayhem should be cut after two losses (including one where he was clearly injured or otherwise may have won), but then again, we’ve gone over the UFC’s erratic, inconsistent decisions on whether to cut fighters plenty of times. Ironically enough, Miller’s last UFC fight came on the same card where Dan Hardy, who had lost four straight bouts, finally got back in the “W” column. I guess Mayhem didn’t “WAR!!!” hard enough?
–Don’t think I’m hating on Hardy, either. I’m fine with him sticking around, and his feinted jab/left hook was picture-perfect en route to a beautiful knockdown and eventual TKO of Duane “Bang” Ludwig. Like Hardy, I’m a longtime fan of Bang, but that was just brilliant technique.
Movin’ On Up Award
Stefan Struve has beaten tough competition before, but he capped off a three-fight winning streak with a sudden armbar victory over an aggressive Lavar Johnson to really show that he’s ready to step up in the ranks of the heavyweight division. As for his next fight: why not Frank Mir?
Beautiful Loser Award
Diego Brandao was really the only fighter in the loss column on Saturday night who put up a great effort, as he handily won the first round against Darren Elkins en route to a unanimous decision loss (29-28 Elkins on all three scorecards). However, Elkins shut down Brandao’s offense in the other two rounds while Brandao slowed noticeably. Brandao had little success mounting any offense from his back as Elkins clearly won the fight.
Holy $#!% Award
–With apologies to Dan Hardy, Roy Nelson gets this for dropping Dave Herman like a sack of potatoes in the first round of their fight. While I was right about Cain Velasquez returning to his grappling roots, Nelson didn’t need to as the good ‘ol overhand right served him well again. Nelson threw it in such an exaggerated way that he looked like a pitcher firing a fastball off of the mound, but he landed it accurately and Herman’s night was over with.