Here comes the heavies.
At UFC 146, Saturday, May 26, at 10 p.m. ET, the heavyweight division will be on display. Featuring five heavyweight fights, UFC 146 is headlined by heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos in his first title defense.
Coming off a brutal beatdown of Shane Carwin and a shocking first-round knockout over Cain Velasquez, dos Santos will defend his new heavyweight belt for the first time against Frank Mir, who is coming off an incredible arm-breaking submission victory over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Originally scheduled to fight skilled striker Alistair Overeem, who was removed from the fight after testing for an elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone level, dos Santos now has to adapt to Mir's grappling and jiu-jitsu heavy game.
What does dos Santos have to do to remain the champ? Let's take a look...
Utilize his striking
Though dos Santos was originally planning to face Overeem, Mir is certainly an easier matchup. Don't get me wrong, beating Mir will be no cake walk, but dos Santos has the clear striking advantage.
One of the heavyweight division's better boxers, dos Santos has earned 10 of his 14 wins by knockout, with five of his eight UFC wins (six if you count Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic's submission due to eye injury) also coming by way of knockout.
Statistically speaking, dos Santos lands more than 2.5 times more strikes per minute than Mir, and he gets hit substantially less than Mir. Look for dos Santos to use looping overhand rights and hard-digging uppercuts to steal Mir's consciousness.
If dos Santos can put his hands to work like he normally does, it could be a very short night for Mir.
Keep the fight standing
This is a no-brainer. If dos Santos wants to be able to utilize his striking, he needs to stay away from Mir's biggest strength—his grappling.
Though Mir isn't a particularly incredible wrestler, he has high-level jiu-jitsu skills and a knack for breaking arms. Mir gets about 50 percent of the takedowns he attempts, and once on the ground, he relentlessly threatens his opponent with submissions.
Though dos Santos can hold his own on the ground, the path of most resistance isn't typically the favored route in MMA. Instead of taking Mir on in grappling, dos Santos needs to use his prolific takedown defense to stuff Mir's takedowns, use his footwork to stay off the cage and keep the fight in the middle of the Octagon.
Go for the kill
So, we know how Mir wins, but it's equally important to note how he loses.
Mir has lost five times in his career, and five times he's been knocked out. The fight is two days away, and already dos Santos should be smelling blood. If he gets Mir in a bad way, he should stay composed, follow up and work to finish the fight.
Mir is generally a resilient fighter, but he folds when getting hit repeatedly in the face really hard. Weird, right?
Easy as A, B, C
So, there you have it. It's a pretty straight forward path to victory for dos Santos...stay on his feet, punch Mir hard and go for the kill. I know, easier said than done.
Can he do it? Tune in Saturday to find out...