After over a month the UFC returns to Pay-Per-View to kick off their summer series of cards with an all Heavyweight offering. And that main card just flew by, as it seemed like no time until Junior dos Santos was in the cage facing Frank Mir. Every single main card fight ended in the first or second round and as a result the card had come to an end with over an hour early.
Needless to stay a main card with nothing but stoppages was quite entertaining and the all Heavyweight concept of this PPV seemed to work well. I'm not sure how repeatable it is because the not-so-secret secret of this card was because the injuries that hit this event the card was stacked with mismatches. The UFC Heavyweight division, while growing in depth with the migration of Strikeforce fighters, is still shallow and something of a time machine back to the early 2000s. In what other modern weight-class could a fighter with absolutely no ground game, like Lavar Johnson, or trains part time, like Dave Herman, compete on the main card of a PPV? The Heavyweight division is evolving but there is still plenty of room for new talent to filter through.
Hit the jump for more perspective...
- Junior dos Santos looked excellent in his win over Frank Mir. His punches were crisp, accurate and devastatingly strong. His defensive skills looked improved as he was slipping punches and then countering extremely well. Dos Santos again proved impossible to takedown and looks unbeatable at this point in his career.
- Frank Mir's night went how most fans and media expected it would. He got hit hard and often, and was seriously rocked at the end of the first round. This fight is sure to meme fodder between Mir's misidentification of the venue and the knockdown that eventually ended the fight being turned into gifs. That said, Mir did not shy away from dos Santos, stayed in the pocket and used his straight left hand to hit he champion on a few occasions but in the end he was just out of his depth with dos Santos.
- Cain Velasquez put a good old fashion ass beating on Antonio Silva. Many predicted that speed would be the difference and that lighting quick knee tap takedown was basically the end of the fight. The bloody elbows and unrelenting pace from Velasquez clearly overwhelmed Silva, who by the end could barely see for all the blood in his face.
- Silva's game off his back was pretty solid for a big man, working his legs from half guard to prevent Cain from advancing position and working to get back to guard. But there is only so much a man as big as Silva can do from his back, even when he is a BJJ black belt. The bright side for Silva is Cain is one of the few heavyweights that will be able to put Silva on his back.
- After this card, it is pretty clear that Velasquez and dos Santos are the best Heavyweights in MMA and a rematch in inevitable. I favor dos Santos in the fight for obvious reasons, but I still feel that Velasquez represents this best chance to beat dos Santos. I know that idea will be greeted with a barrage of gifs of the Champion knocking out Velasquez but one of the dirty secrets of combat sports is that when elite fighters rematch the fighters rarely play out in the same fashion. Look down the list rematches in the sport and you will see that the fighter that wins can change or stay the same, but the fight plays out in a different way. I feel the key to beating the Champion is making him tire, and the way to do that is by forcing him to grappler either on the ground or in a standing clinch. Velasquez seems to be ideally suited to that task with his wrestling background and energizer bunny reserves of energy. Again I would favor dos Santos to win, but it is a fight I still want to see.
- Roy Nelson crushed Dave Herman. Not overly shocking as Herman, by his own admission, competes in this sport about half trained. Until Herman focuses more on MMA and less on trampoline ball he will likely never be relevant in the sport. Nelson looked good for all 51 seconds, but not sure what we learned where his career is headed, but considering the late switch of opponents it is hard not to be pleased with Big Country.
- Shane del Rosario's fight looked pretty much how I expected it to look. He came out strong, throwing nice kicks and stringing together strikes. But in that second round he slowed down and Stipe Miocic took over. It was a good job by Miocic, who appears to be a nice prospect at the Heavyweight. For del Rosario it is not time to hit the panic button, he is coming off serious injuries due to a car wreck and it is going to take serious time to recover. Frank Mir can attest to that, it took him over a year after returning to action to look like his old self again after the motorcycle accident he suffered. I'm with holding judgment on del Rosario until at least mid-2013 and if he is still struggling then I will begin to wonder if he is really that prospect he was billed as in Strikeforce.
- Stefan Struve fought in a way that gave him the best chance to win! It is a good sign of growth and let us not forget that Struve is actually younger than Jon Jones, so this kid still has plenty of time to grow his skills. While I doubt he will ever be champion, he could become a solid Top 10 fighter.Lavar Johnson needs to enroll in his local jiu jitsu academy, this is 2012 you can't be in the UFC with your only defense against ground work being that hope your opponent doesn't decide take you down.
- The prelims on this card were crazy and made be very glad I'm not a gambling man because I would have lost a great deal of money. The biggest upset to me was Jamie Varner stepping in on short notice putting the screws to Edson Barboza. It seemed to me that Varner came in highly aggressive and that threw Barboza off, as most of his opponents are made timid by Barboza's imposing striking. When the pressure was on Barboza showed awful defense, dropping his hands and moving straight backwards. A gutsy win for a veteran well worth his salt in Varner.
- The Jason Miller experience was quite odd last night. It did look like his knee was hurt after he jumped that choke and that same knee buckled sickeningly when threw a punch shortly afterwards. And now we hear that after some backstage foolishness he has been released from the UFC. I guess that is why they call him "Mayhem".
- Paul Sass puts a stop to the Jacob Volkmann for President campaign with a nasty triangle armbar. This fight made me happy because so often we see fighters with top position making technical mistakes and the bottom man either being too timid or not skilled enough to make them pay. But Sass pounced on a Volkmann error to lock up a triangle and win the match.
- Glover Teixeira and Dan Hardy both got over humps last night. Teixera finally got into the UFC and looked like a world-beater against Kyle Kingsbury and Hardynotched his first win since 2009.
- Mike Thomas Brown went out with a win last night, retiring from professional MMA and almost certainly to focus on his coaching career.Congratulationson a great career and best of luck coaching.