UFC 146: Info and Predictions for Every Fight on the Card
UFC 146 ends one of the most fun months in MMA that I can remember. It's the first time that the UFC has ever put together an all-heavyweight main card culminating with Junior Dos Santos defending his title against Frank Mir.
The card has seen a lot of changes, mostly stemming from Overeem's test for elevated levels of testosterone (14:1 T:E). With so many heavyweight bouts, this card promises to have long-term consequences for the division. There are also some interesting bouts on the undercard which could see some prospects move to the upper tier of their divisions.
With the matches set and the fighters arriving in Vegas for the event, let's break down every fight on the card.
Mike Brown vs. Daniel Pineda
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In the opening fight of the night, Mike Brown takes on Daniel Pineda.
Mike Brown is the former WEC featherweight champion and one of the two men to hold not just one, but two victories over Urijah Faber. A product of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, Brown is as well-rounded a fighter as you'll get in the featherweight division. He fell on hard times in his professional career due to distractions stemming from his personal life.
He's a solid wrestler with fairly technical boxing. He doesn't throw many kicks, which should make it easier to game-plan for him, but he does have knockout power in his hands, which always makes him dangerous. Brown also has an underrated submission game but is way stronger from top position as he uses his BJJ defensively off his back.
If there's one issue with Brown, it's that he tends to abandon technical striking for haymakers, as seen in the fight with Nam Phan.
Daniel Pineda is a standout from the Texas MMA scene as one of the top fighters to come out of Legacy Fighting Championship in Houston. There were questions about Pineda when he entered the UFC, as he had a professional record of 15-7, which usually isn't UFC material. He's shown that he belongs, winning his first two fights in the promotion by submission.
Pineda is well rounded but tends to fight best inside the clinch and off his back on the ground. He's never faced a fighter like Mike Brown, so testing his BJJ may not be the best path to victory. As good as he is at submissions, he's not very good defensively. He'll need to keep his focus on the ground in order to stifle Brown's top game.
This is a great fight to start out the night as it could go one of three ways. First is that Brown is unable to get the fight to the ground and we get a decently technical kickboxing match. Second is Brown gets the fight to the ground and grinds out a decision with ground-and-pound. Third is Pineda taps Brown off his back, which is a possibility as well.
Prediction: I may be totally wrong, but I'll say Mike Brown wins. I think Pineda is a solid young fighter—he's just getting sent to the wolves really quickly. Mike Brown via Unanimous Decision.
Kyle Kingsbury vs. Glover Teixeira
In the second fight of the night, Kyle Kingsbury faces Glover Teixeira.
Kyle Kingsbury is well known. He's a fighter out of AKA and has vastly improved since his time on The Ultimate Fighter, where he was essentially just a big athletic guy. He's turned himself into a heavy-handed striker with decent takedowns and solid top control. His striking defense is still suspect as is his ability to escape from submissions.
Glover Teixeira may be the best fighter you've never heard of. A former training partner of Chuck Liddell, Teixeira is considered on of the best grapplers in the world. Don't let that fool you into thinking he likes to fight off his back. Teixeira tends to stand and bang rather than go for submissions, which makes him difficult to plan for. During his 15-fight winning streak, he's only gone to decision once and has stopped 11 opponents by TKO in his career.
The biggest question about Glover: How he will handle the big show? Octagon jitters are real and he faces a tough opponent in Kyle Kingsbury.
This should be a fairly easy win for Glover Teixeira. He's the better fighter on paper and has more experience to draw upon. My biggest concern is that he'll have Octagon jitters and just lose focus in the cage.
Prediction: Glover Teixeira by Split Decision.
Jacob Volkmann vs. Paul Sass
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In the final Facebook prelim, Jacob Volkmann takes on Paul Sass.
Jacob Volkmann is known in the UFC's lightweight division. A solid wrestler with above-average grappling, Volkmann is the definition of a one-trick pony. In his case, his one trick is so good and effective that he's built a winning record in the UFC. His striking is awful and he rarely looks for submissions, but he's definitely one of the best in the division at controlling position.
Paul Sass is a bit more of an unknown in the lightweight division. What we do know is that he's a very good submission fighter from his back but has below-average stand-up. His chin hasn't been tested in the UFC, so that remains an unknown along with his gas tank. His best chance at winning is with a leg lock early in the first round.
This should be a pretty easy win for Jacob Volkmann, who the UFC seems to be keeping far away from the top of the division. It won't be an entertaining fight, but Volkmann is just too strong from the top to get caught by Sass.
Prediction: Jacob Volkmann by Unanimous Decision.
Dan Hardy vs. Duane Ludwig
The FX broadcast kicks off with a welterweight showdown between Dan Hardy and Duane Ludwig.
Fans should know what to expect from Dan Hardy at this point in his UFC career. He's been sold as one of the top kickboxers in the division, as well as one of the heaviest hitters.
Neither of these happen to be particularly true, but he does have fairly decent striking. He tends to leave his chin open when he throws punches and that has led to him being dropped on a couple of occasions. He's not bad anywhere, but that doesn't mean he's strong from all positions either.
Duane Ludwig is probably one of the best technical strikers in the welterweight division. A veteran of several K-1 matches, he definitely has the ability to hurt opponents with kicks as well as punches. His submission and wrestling have improved since training with Nate Marquardt. Obviously, that doesn't mean he's going to be going for flying triangles, but he is a threat from all positions.
This should be an easy fight for Ludwig, who is just better at everything that Dan Hardy does. I don't expect either fighter to gas; instead, this should be a solid striking battle between two fighters who like to trade punches.
Prediction: Duane Ludwig by Unanimous Decision.
Jason Miller vs C.B. Dollaway
Jason "Mayhem" Miller faces C.B. Dollaway in the second fight of the FX broadcast.
Jason Miller was a great coach on The Ultimate Fighter. Unfortunately, that ability didn't translate to his fight against Michael Bisping. Miller entered the fight incredibly out of shape and there were rumors that he half-assed his preparation.
When he's at the top of his game, Miller is an above-average submission grappler and has passable stand-up. His wrestling remains the weakest aspect of his all-around game. That and his desire to show up to fights in shape are the biggest concerns in the fight against Dollaway.
C.B. Dollaway may not have become the fighter that everyone expected, but he's still a very tough wrestler in the middleweight division. He has some crafty submissions and can catch someone who isn't expecting to have to fight off a Peruvian necktie.
When it comes to Dollaway, there are two major concerns. The first is that his striking is horrendous. The second is related to the first and that's that his striking defense is even worse than his striking.
This is Miller's fight to lose. If he shows up in shape, he should defeat Dollaway with ease. If he's out of shape and gasses in the first round, then C.B. will run through him.
Prediction: I'm banking on Miller showing up out of shape. C.B. Dollaway by Unanimous Decision.
Edson Barboza vs. Jamie Varner
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In the third fight of the FX broadcast, Edson Barboza takes on Jamie Varner.
Edson Barboza is one of the best young fighters in the UFC's lightweight division. He's a dynamic striker who is very difficult to get to the ground and off his back he's crafty with his sweeps and submissions. His striking defense is solid, though he was getting tagged by Anthony Njokuani when they met at UFC 128. There aren't any questions about his chin or gas tank.
Jamie Varner is the former WEC lightweight champion. At his best, he possesses solid boxing and wrestling and is a real test for anyone in the division. At his worst, he's an absolute headcase who falls apart when pressed by his opponents. He's stepping in on short notice as a replacement for Evan Dunham against one of the top young fighters in the lightweight division.
This should be one of the most one-sided fights in UFC history. Jamie Varner used to be a top fighter, but those days are long gone. This is Barboza's fight to lose and I just can't see that ever happening.
Prediction: Edson Barboza by third-round TKO.
Diego Brandao vs. Darren Elkins
The final fight of the FX broadcast pits Ultimate Fighter winner Diego Brandao against current UFC fighter Darren Elkins.
Diego Brandao was one of the early favorites to win his season of The Ultimate Fighter and his performance in the finale showed that he was ready for the UFC. A Brazilian with dynamite in his fists, he can end a fight at any time with strikes.
That's not where his skill set ends, as he also is incredibly capable on the ground as well. The only aspect that remains suspect is his wrestling and training at Greg Jackson's camp has surely seen it improve.
Darren Elkins is probably best known by UFC fans as the guy who won a controversial decision over Michihiro Omigawa at UFC 131 in Vancouver. The decision was so controversial that UFC president Dana White publicly stated he believed that Omigawa was the victor in the contest. Elkins is well-rounded in that he's good everywhere but isn't great anywhere.
This is Diego Brandao's fight. He's getting the TUF treatment, so expect him to beat Darren Elkins pretty easily. Probably something involving knees and punches. Really brutal stuff.
Prediction: Diego Brandao by TKO in the second round.
Stefan Struve vs. Lavar Johnson
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The PPV opens with Stefan Struve against late replacement Lavar Johnson.
Stefan Struve is one of the most frustrating fighters in the UFC in my opinion. A gigantic person, he just doesn't seem to know how big he actually is. He never fights to his size and that allows opponents to get inside and put him down with hooks and uppercuts. He's extremely lanky and can submit anyone with triangles or armbars.
There are no questions about his tank, just his chin, which will be a legit concern with a heavy hitter like Lavar Johnson.
Lavar Johnson may be the biggest surprise of 2012 not named Mark Hunt. Johnson was a solid heavyweight in Strikeforce but never really amounted to much besides a solid mid-card fighter. He's now 2-0 in the UFC and has the opportunity to become a real player in the UFC's heavyweight division with a win over Struve.
He's essentially just a striker, but GOTDAMN does he do that one thing incredibly well. He has hamhocks for fists and just clubs people until they fall down. His holes are his submission game and he has difficulty again more technical strikers who can outwork him on the feet.
This is Lavar Johnson's fight. Struve has a very questionable chin and rarely fights an intelligent fight. Expect Johnson to do what he does best—put his fist on Struve's face in a very painful fashion.
Prediction: Lavar Johnson by TKO in the first round.
Shane Del Rosario vs. Stipe Miocic
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In the second fight of the PPV portion, UFC newcomer Shane del Rosario takes on Stipe Miocic.
Shane del Rosario was once considered one of the best young heavyweights in the sport. He's a dynamic striker and has above-average submissions off his back.
Unfortunately, he's spent a large portion of his career on the sidelines injured, which segues nicely into talking about his latest injury that saw him sidelined for over a year. The biggest issue for him heading into this fight is that he's going to have a ton of ring rust.
Stipe Miocic is one of the blue-chip fighters that the UFC has signed in the recent years. He's a former golden gloves champion and an NCAA D1 All-American. He has solid boxing and his wrestling is above average. He tends to get thrown off his game pretty often and has to rely on his wrestling to get out of bad situations. He also has a questionable gas tank, as seen in his fight with Joey Beltran.
This fight will be a solid test for both fighters. Miocic has never faced someone of Del Rosario's caliber, so it will be a good way to figure out how far he has come in his development. On the flip side, Del Rosario is coming off really serious injury and may not be in the best shape.
Prediction: Shane del Rosario finishes Stipe Miocic in the second round with punches.
Roy Nelson vs. Dave Herman
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In the third fight of the PPV broadcast, Roy Nelson faces Dave Herman.
Roy Nelson is one of the most consistently inconsistent fighters in the UFC. He's very talented and in a weaker division he'd probably be in the title picture. Unfortunately, the UFC's heavyweight division is deeper than ever and there's just some guys who are just way too talented for him.
Nelson brings heavy hands, a sold submission grappling game and underrated takedowns. He's also incredibly tough. The biggest knock against him is that he never seems to have a game plan and fights his opponent's fight all the time.
Dave Herman is a solid fighter, but he's just not elite. He's decently well rounded, but super weak off his back. When I say super weak, I actually mean terrible. He's been very open about how he doesn't train off his back at all, which means he's completely ignored the guard. He also has a questionable chin.
Roy Nelson should win this fight. I say "should" because that's not a guarantee when it comes to Roy Nelson, who is very inconsistent. If Nelson fights smart, he should get this fight to the ground very easily and then get Herman in a crucifix with ease.
From there, it's just Roy doing Roy.
Prediction: Roy Nelson by TKO in the first round.
Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva
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In the co-main event, Cain Velasquez takes on UFC newcomer Antonio "Big Foot" Silva.
Cain Velasquez is one of the most recognizable fighters in the UFC's heavyweight division as the former champion. He's incredibly well rounded, but tends to utilize his boxing and wrestling the most when fighting.
He's very tough and has a fantastic chin, though he did get knocked out by Junior Dos Santos at UFC on Fox 1. There is a major concern and that's his health. He's coming off a very serious injury and that could mean ring rust and the possibility for lingering pain.
Antonio Silva is an absolutely enormous heavyweight and one of the few men to hold a win over Fedor Emelianenko. Silva is a black belt in Jiu Jitsu and a very dangerous striker. He tends to use his size to his advantage in the clinch and on the ground. He's pretty solid everywhere and I don't recognize many flaws in his game besides that he's chin-y and has mediocre striking defense.
Cain Velasquez should win this fight. He's better pretty much everywhere and that means he should win this with ease, likely with his wrestling being the key to his game.
Prediction: Cain Velasquez by second-round TKO.
Junior Dos Santos vs. Frank Mir
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In the main event of the night, Junior Dos Santos looks to defend his belt against Frank Mir.
Junior Dos Santos is the baddest man on the planet. Don't let him tell you otherwise. By now, UFC fans know exactly what they should expect from J.D.S. and that's heavy-handed technical striking and an underrated defensive wrestling game.
He's also supposed to be pretty decent off his back, but we've never seen that happen, so who knows if that's even true. There's absolutely no concerns I have about Dos Santos at this point in his career. He's shown himself to be an elite fighter and one of the best to ever enter the cage.
Frank Mir has turned himself into one of the most complete fighters in the heavyweight division. While others ignore the submission game, that's actually where Mir is most dangerous. He's strong both off his back and from top control and attacks both the legs and arms. He understands how to crank a submission properly over a fulcrum, and that's evident with his trophy case of broken limbs.
His striking defense is still suspect, as his his wrestling. He also doesn't react well to getting hit hard and that'll play a big part in this week's fight.
I see this being a very one-sided affair. Dos Santos is just too dangerous everywhere to lose to Frank Mir and he's good at the one thing that Mir has the most trouble with. I expect J.D.S. to test the chin of Frank Mir early and often and put him away with punches.
Prediction: Junior Dos Santos by TKO in the second round.