At UFC 146, former UFC Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez (9-1; 7-1 UFC) faces former Strikeforce fighter Antonio Silva (16-3; UFC Debut). This is the semi-main event of the evening, and, as is the case with all of the UFC 146 main card, is a Heavyweight fight. Velasquez is currently the #3 Heavyweight in the world according to the USA TODAY / MMA Nation Consensus MMA Rankings, while Silva sits at #10. The PPV card begins Saturday, May 26 at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.
Originally, this was planned as Velsquez vs. Frank Mir. But when Mir stepped into the main event to replace Alisatir Overeem, Bigfoot Silva took his place. The result is a match between two highly regarded talents, but also two men both bouncing back from loses. It creates a unique situation where the winner could be next in line for a title shot, while the loser will be on a two fight losing streak and in real need of a win. Both have a lot to prove here, and I expect both men to come out hungry.
How do these two stack up?
Velasquez: 29 years old | 6'1" | 77" reach
Silva: 32 years old | 6'4" | 82" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
Not long ago, Cain Velasquez was in much the same position dos Santos is in today. He was the UFC Heavyweight champion, undefeated in the Octagon (and, for Cain, undefeated overall), seen as the man to bring stability to the division. But a 64 second KO loss to Cigano put an end to that. Now, the former #1 is in a tough spot. He needs a win here to prove two things. First, that he does have power in his hands (an accusation that has plagued him throughout his career). Second, that the torn rotator cuff that kept him on the sidelines for most of 2011 is behind him and not a career-derailing injury. A loss here will be very bad for Cain, while a dominant win will remind everyone that this is the same man who KO'd Nog and who steamrolled Lesnar.
Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva makes his UFC debut here after making his name in the EliteXC and Strikeforce Heavyweight divisions. An oft-discussed prospect for some time, Silva really had his break-out moment in the Striekforce Grand Prix when he upset tournament favorite Fedor Emelianenko with an impressive ground and pound beating. Silva gained great momentum from that bout, but then lost some of it when he was knocked out by Daniel Cormier. With Cormier recently dominating Josh Barnett, that loss becomes less damaging in hindsight. And in reality, now that he's in the UFC, his Strikeforce accomplishments only mean so much. He needs to show that he is a contender on the big stage, and that begins here.
Why should you care?
I'm very interested to see how this one plays out. Which man will take a huge step forward, which a huge step back? There's a lot on the line, and that makes for a great fight.
More UFC 146 preview coverage from Bloody Elbow after the jump.