UFC 146: Breaking Down the First Round of Every Main Fight Card
With a main card featuring some of the hardest hitting fighters in the world, there are many game plans that could be utilized but no round is going to be more important to a victory than the first round.
It is no secret that any heavyweight can end an opponent’s night in a matter of milliseconds, and with an opponent that has that capability, you probably want to avoid that all together.
Tonight you have knockout artists, submission specialists, and cardio machines facing off in a historic match. The night features heavyweight fighters Junior dos Santos, Frank Mir, Cain Velasquez, Antonio Silva, Roy Nelson, Dave Herman, Stipe Miocic, Shane del Rosario, Stefan Struve, and Lavar Johnson.
All fighters have different methods of obtaining a win but the story will be told in almost every fight by how the first round goes and the strategy that is implemented.
Stefan Struve vs Lavar Johnson
The first round in this fight is important for Stefan Struve due to his notorious slow starts. He will want to establish his authority early and utilize his distance against Johnson. Struve has the option of taking this to the ground or remaining on his feet. The fighter has looked very impressive as of late and may be ready to take the next leap up in competition.
For Johnson, he is going to want to land heavy shots and get out of grabbing distance. Johnson is going to want to pace himself but still make every shot count. Knowing that Struve sometimes starts off very slow, he may want to throw caution to the wind and come out swinging for the fences.
If Struve is able to use his size and make Lavar Johnson stay inside longer than he needs to, look for Stuve to take this to the ground but I fully expect that he is going to want to prove he has become the better striker.
Stipe Miocic vs Shane del Rosario
Stipe should have one objective in the first round, pressure SdR and not let him find a rhythm. Rosario has had a long period off so Stipe not letting him get comfortable in his Octagon debut will be a very crucial factor. Stipe has the wrestling advantage so taking Rosario off his feet a couple times might be a wise move but something just tells me that this fight will spend very little time on the mat.
Rosario himself will want to establish himself in this fight and there is no better way than to come out aggressive. Due to his kickboxing background, Rosario will want to keep Miocic at a range that is ideal for his heavy strikes. If Rosario can keep Miocic at range instead of letting him dictate where the fight will take place, this one has all the makings for "Fight of the Night.”
Roy Nelson vs Dave Herman
Nelson needs a strong outing in this fight and will need to establish himself against Dave Herman very early. Nelson will probably want to use his size to his advantage early to try to press Herman and attempt to wear him out. I think that Nelson will want to take this to the ground and repeat his fight with Brendan Schaub at the TUF finale.
Herman on the other hand will want to land crisp shots on Nelson. With an obvious speed advantage in Herman's favor, he should be able to stick and move all night. To accomplish this, he has to set the stage in round one and do not let Nelson get his hands on him. Straight punches should be the key to victory for Dave Herman.
Antonio Silva vs Cain Velasquez
Silva has been possibly the most overlooked fighter heading into this fight but his physical size should play a strong factor.
Silva will want to start this fight off by making Velasquez become a one dimensional fighter by having to stay on his feet. If Silva can establish the fact that taking him down will be extremely difficult then Velasquez might have to overcome some serious obstacles. If he does get taken down, Silva will have to display his ground game and use his length to keep Velasquez from inflicting damage with his ground 'n' pound.
Velasquez will obviously have the opposite strategy. He will want to dictate when and where this fight will take place. Due to his last fight I would say that a takedown should be high on his priority list early and often. If Velasquez can continually get Silva to worry about being taken down then he should have the advantage and walk away the winner
Frank Mir vs Junior dos Santos
For Frank Mir the first round is easily the most important. For Mir, his most important mission will be to survive the first round and feel out JdS. Mir has to establish kicks and strikes that will make JdS second guess himself when he attempts to move in on Mir.
The bonus factor for Mir will be if he can put JdS on his back at any point in the first round. Mir has the advantage of having the most feared submission game in the UFC so if trouble is knocking at his door, falling on his back is his escape route.
Junior dos Santos has one objective in this fight and every round he participates in--knocking out his opponent. JdS will want to prove that his speed and power will be too much for Mir to overcome and possibly break Mir's spirit in round one.
JdS will need to demonstrate that he can avoid any clinching or attempted takedowns while delivering strong, crisp strikes to keep Mir away from him. He needs to make his authority known in the first round and not let Mir gain any confidence because a confident Mir is a dangerous Mir.