LAS VEGAS-Brazil's Junior Dos Santos and four of his fellow heavyweights headlined the Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial arts fight card and more than 12,000 saw the Brazilian successfully retain the title on Saturday.
UFC 146 featured Dos Santos (15-1) making his first world title defense on the MMA card. He was cautious but explosive. All of the heavyweight bouts were explosive.
In the main event Mir (17-6) established early that he was going for a take down and nearly accomplished it in the first round. That kept Dos Santos from attacking too eagerly and most of the action took place from a distance. A right hand seemed to damage Mir and it dropped the American MMA fighter, but Dos Santos was taking no chances and allowed him to stand up.
“That surprised me, this guy can take a punch,” said Dos Santos about Mir's recuperative powers.
Mir kept looking for an opportunity to take down the champion but none came.
“The champ is fast. I couldn't get out of the way. I was taking too many punches. He’s a very dangerous guy,” said Mir. “I knew he would be a very difficult guy to take down. I didn't want to stand and box with him.”
Dos Santos kept his distance early in the second round and saw an opening for a counter right cross through Mir's guard. Down went the Las Vegas fighter but Dos Santos wasn't sure that Mir was truly hurt and backed off. When Mir attempted to get up he was still reeling from the blow and slumped down to the floor. Dos Santos knew then that Mir was truly hurt and attacked. The referee Herb Dean stopped the fight at 3:04 of the second round.
“I feel awesome man. Not bad for a nice guy, huh,” said Dos Santos. “Frank Mir is a very good fighter too. I come here to defend my belt and I did it.”
Former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez (10-1) struck quickly in taking down Brazil's Antonio “Big Foot” Silva (16-4) and battering the heavyweight with elbows and fists. Within seconds Silva was a bloody mess and the fight was stopped temporarily for the doctor to examine the blood gushing from the Brazilian's forehead. The fight resumed but Velasquez increased the ground and pound attack and forced the referee to halt the match at 3:36 of round one. It was yet another quick heavyweight fight ending by technical knockout. “It's a step in the right direction,” said Velasquez whose prior bout ended in a technical knockout loss to the current champion. “Them guys are all bigger than I am.”
Las Vegas heavyweight Roy “Big Country” Nelson (17-7) needed one punch - an overhand right - to knock out Temecula's Dave “Peewee” Herman (21-4) in 51 seconds of the first round. It was the only punch landed by Nelson after withstanding several kicks and punches from Herman. The right sent Herman crumpling in a heap and the referee immediately stopped the contest. “It was just one punch,” said Herman to the referee.
Ohio's Stipe Miocic (9-0) withstood the vicious body kicks from former Muy Thai world champion Shane Del Rosario (11-1) then lowered the hammer in round two with brutal elbows strikes to the face after taking the Californian down. The fight was stopped at 3:14 of round two by technical knockout in favor of Miocic. Del Rosario was woozy and suffered a gash above his left eye.
Holland's Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve (24-5) didn't waste time in figuring out how to beat big punching Lavar Johnson (17-6). An arm bar by Struve forced a submission at 1:05 of round one. “I felt like I could get the arm bar and tap him out,” said Struve. “He's a heavy hitter.”
Indiana's Darren Elkins (14-2) took away Brazil's Diego Brandao’s (14-8) striking including the flying knee after round one and grounded out a victory by unanimous decision after three rounds of a featherweight contest.
Arizona's Jamie Varner (20-6-1) entered the Octagon to boos and exited with perhaps the loudest cheers in his career after stopping Brazil's dangerous Edson Barboza (10-1) by technical knockout. After the Brazilian attempted a high kick to the head Varner caught it and took him down. From that moment on Varner matched blow for blow everything Barboza fired and floored him with a right and a subsequent ground and pound. The fight was stopped at 3:23 of round one. “He's a scary dude,” said lightweight Varner. “It's so surreal. I just beat Barboza who was a monster in my mind.”
CB Dollaway (12-4) won by unanimous decision over fan favorite Jason “Mayhem” Miller (27-9) after three rounds of a ground dominated middleweight match. Though Miller connected with a vicious overhand right in the second round, it was Dollaway who controlled the fight on the ground. “My game plan was to stand and trade,” said Dollaway. “(But) he hurt me in the second round.”
England's popular Dan Hardy (24-10) caught Denver's Duane Ludwig (21-13) with a perfect left hook to the chin and soon blasted the downed fighter with punches forcing the referee stoppage at 3:51 of the first round. “It's good to be back,” said Nottingham's welterweight Hardy about his first win in nearly three years. “He's (Ludwig) a great fighter and a great man as well.”
England's Paul Sass (13-0) maneuvered his way quickly to triangle arm bar to force a submission from Minnesota's JacobVolkmann (17-3) at 1:54 of the first round of their lightweight bout. Sass hails from Liverpool.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV