Junior dos Santos and Frank Mir square off at the UFC 146 press conference on Thursday afternoon at the MGM Grand lobby in Las Vegas. Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
In the main event at UFC 146, Junior dos Santos (14-1; 8-0 UFC) faces Frank Mir (17-5; 15-5 UFC). The fight is for dos Santos's UFC Heavyweight title and will be his first defense since winning the belt from Cain Velasquez last fall. The USA TODAY / MMA Nation Consensus MMA Rankings currently have dos Santos ranked as the #1 Heavyweight in the world, with Mir a few spots below him at #4. The PPV card begins Saturday, May 26 at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.
As a Heavyweight title fight, dos Santos vs. Mir provides an interesting stylistic match-up. So far, dos Santos has been dominant in the UFC, causing some people to label him as unbeatable. But Frank Mir possesses a unique skill-set with his high level submission game, and it's a skill-set that Cigano has not yet faced inside the Octagon. Add in Mir's long journey back to the top from his motorcycle accident, and the revenge angle of dos Santos fighting to avenge Minotauro Nogueira, and you have an exciting bout. Sadly, that excitement is tempered by the knowledge that this is a make-up fight for the planned dos Santos vs. Alistair Overeem showdown. I'm excited for this fight, but it's hard not to miss what should have been.
How do these two stack up?
Dos Santos: 27 years old | 6'4" | 77" reach
Mir: 32 years old | 6'3" | 79" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
Junior dos Santos got here with a path of destruction. A heavy-handed boxer, Cigano has been knocking out top contenders since his UFC debut. Breaking into the UFC with an emphatic upset KO of Fabricio Werdum back at UFC 90, dos Santos has gone undefeated in the Octagon, winning 8 straight, 6 via overwhelming stoppage. His lone loss came in Brazil back in 2007 when he was submitted. Many consider him the definitive Heavyweight of the era, but as history has shown, it's very hard to establish a true dominant run in this division.
Frank Mir is a former UFC Heavyweight champion. In 2004, with a record of 8-1, he was the reigning champion when he suffered a near career ending motorcycle accident. He came back in 2006, but had clearly lost a step and seemed to no longer be relevant. But in 2007 he turned it around and has gone 7-2 since with impressive wins over some big names. A submission specialist, Mir has the most brutal sub game in the division, which he showed by snapping Big Nog's arm at UFC 140. Not everyone is a Mir fan, but he's been through a ton, and I find the story of his quest back to the title to be pretty amazing.
Why should you care?
So many reasons. A title defense, boxer vs. submission specialist, Cigano's revenge for Nog, Mir's epic journey... there are tons of great stories at play here that make this a fascinating match-up. Don't let the Overeem story overshadow your enjoyment of this one.
More UFC 146 preview coverage from Bloody Elbow after the jump.