Junior dos Santos is animated and excited after his win at UFC 146 in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 26, 2012. (Image via Esther Lin of MMA Fighting)
UFC 146 is in the books and while it wasn't exactly the stacked card it was supposed to be, it was pretty enjoyable overall. Nine out of the twelve fights were finished before the final bell and none of the main card fights got out of the second round. The casual fans I talked to after the show were far more enthralled by the action than they were about UFC 145, even though that card will probably end up doing a better buyrate. The bottom line is that the UFC got the best out of what they had left and a 3.5 million dollar gate at the MGM isn't too shabby. Let's get on to the winners and losers from last night's event.
Junior dos Santos: The champ is here. The result might have been expected, but JDS looked totally dominant tonight over a former UFC heavyweight champion and successfully defended his title for the first time. Yes it should have been Alistair Overeem at the other end of those strikes, but we've got to come to grips with the fact that we're not going to see that anytime soon. What's next for Dos Santos? Dana definitely hinted at a rematch between JDS and former champ Cain Velasquez at the post-fight press conference. But he also implied that Daniel Cormier would probably get an immediate title shot if he was to come over to the UFC sometime soon. It'll definitely be interesting to see who faces Cigano next.
Cain Velasquez: Cain looked awesome. He took Antonio Silva down less than ten seconds into the fight and basically turned the octagon into a butcher shop. There are very few fights I can think of (Hieron/Goulet, Penn/Stevenson) that were bloodier than that bout, but Cain was all kinds of effective despite the plasma. Whether he earned a title shot is up for debate, but he certainly proved once again that he is at the absolute top of the heap in the heavyweight division.
Roy Nelson: I don't think he would have made my winners list without a picture-perfect finish, but that's exactly what he got. That bomb he dropped on Dave Herman's chin was devastating, and the way Herman collapsed into a sitting position just made it even more memorable. We all know Big Country isn't going to challenge for the title anytime soon but he's reliably entertaining and an excellent litmus test for the up-and-comers in the division. It might be a tad early to push Stipe Miocic that far up the card, but Nelson seems like a natural next opponent for him.
Jamie Varner: I've never tried to hide the fact that I generally can't stand The Worm, but he absolutely deserves props for his performance at UFC 146. He blasted right through a top prospect and looked brilliant doing it, then followed it up by playing his cards right when he was interviewed after the bout. He had every reason to throw that win in the face of everyone that ever wrote him off, but instead he took the high road and showed humility and respect (two things that were missing from the WEC version of Jamie Varner). He already shot down the idea of a third bout with Donald Cerrone in a post-fight interview with MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani, for those wondering about it. But he's now a fixture in the organization, and he became an unlikely reason for me to bust out one of my favorite sayings - All Hail The WEC.
Dan Hardy: I thought it would be a terrible idea for Hardy to stand with a solid Muay Thai practitioner like Duane Ludwig, but he defied the odds and knocked Bang out with his patented left hook and some nasty elbows. I was absolutely not a fan of Dana White's shameless Hardy cheerleading after the bout, but that's not The Outlaw's fault. He was in a do-or-die situation, and he kept his job with the win. It's hard to hate on that.
Glover Teixeira: Glover has been destroying folks outside the UFC for years and it was such a treat to finally see him in the octagon. He completely dominated Kyle Kingsbury on the feet and on the mat. It's way too early to say we have a new potential top contender at light heavyweight, but it's pretty clear that Teixiera will be a forced to be reckoned with in the future.
Losers after the jump.
Frank Mir: I'm still not quite sure why Mir gave up on any hope of getting the fight to the ground after just one attempt early in the first round. He was getting absolutely smoked on the feet and did nothing to change the direction of the fight. Mir is still a guy that can give most of the top-tier guys headaches on any given night, but would he have fared any better against original opponent Cain Velasquez tonight? I doubt it. If the Brock Lesnar rumors are true, it's pretty clear that Lesnar/Mir 3 is next. If not, it's tough to see where Mir goes from here.
Antonio Silva: That had to be a pretty disheartening UFC debut for Bigfoot. His only offense in the entire fight was one glancing upkick, and he left his pride and about two gallons of blood on the canvas in the MGM Grand Garden Arena. I'm hardly squeamish, but it was kind of disturbing to see him continually shake his head in a vain attempt to see through the mask of blood on his face. I'm not sure what his future holds, but my guess is that he'll be seeing another ex-Strikeforce vet across the octagon from him in his next bout.
Dave Herman: Pee Wee got slept. He was actually doing a decent job of using his height and length for a minute or so until that kill shot had him sitting on his keester. I'm sure the UFC will be happy with him stepping up as a late replacement, but he's lost two bouts in a row now and did absolutely nothing to impress anyone in the cage last night. The man needs to set himself up in a real camp and start taking the fight game more seriously if he's going to be successful in the UFC.
Diego Brandao: The TUF winner looked like a lion for five minutes and a lamb for the next ten. It wasn't even like he looked all that tired coming out his corner for the start of the second round either. He just stopped fighting, which was kind of weird. Elkins is an extremely tough and durable fighter and nothing should be taken away from his performance. But if Brandao continues to fight like a frontrunner, he's going to have major problems at 145 in the UFC.
Jason Miller: Mayhem looked terrible in the cage for the second fight in a row, and it appears that some sort of backstage altercation has led to his release from the organization. It's always been clear that Dana White was never a fan of Miller and he needed to look great in the cage to stick around. Other than some solid shots that wobbled opponent C.B. Dollaway a couple of times, he had nothing for the wrestler and showed zero urgency in deep waters. Should he try to grind it out in regional promotions or in Asia? Should he retire? Either way it was a sudden and sad fall from grace for the funny man, that's for sure.