With an all-heavyweight main card, UFC 146: Dos Santos vs. Mir takes place this Saturday, May 26th, as a live pay-per-view event from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Vegas. Heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos meets Frank Mir in the main attraction, which is complemented by 4 other heavyweight match ups.
4 bouts will air on the FX Channel at 8:00 p.m. ET, where recent TUF winner Diego Brandao faces Darren Elkins, and 3 scraps are lined up on the UFC's Facebook page prior to the FX broadcast. Here's the entire cast of characters for the UFC 146 card:
UFC 146 Live PPV
Junior Dos Santos vs. Frank Mir (UFC Heavyweight Championship)
Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva
Roy Nelson vs. Dave Herman
Stipe Miocic vs. Shane Del Rosario
Stefan Struve vs. Lavar Johnson
After incurring his first and only career losses in his opening UFC run as a welterweight, Jacob "Christmas" Volkmann has dropped to lightweight and notched 5-straight victories. Winning all by decision, his streak includes Ronys Torres (split), Paul Kelly (unanimous), Antonio McKee (split), Danny Castillo (unanimous) and Efrain Escudero (unanimous). The 3-time NCAA All-American wrestler from the University of Minnesota has incrementally adapted his background to better suit MMA's dynamic environment: he's been hunting for top-side submissions like Anacondas and D'arce' chokes, defending himself better from striking and submission attempts and improving his knowledge of grappling position.
Other UFC 146: Dos Santos vs. Mir Dissections
Paul "Sassangle" Sass has managed to uphold his undefeated record and ridiculous string of submission wins in the UFC, catching Mark Holst with a triangle and Michael Johnson with a heel hook, both in the 1st-round. Sass began his career with 7-straight submissions by triangle choke (6 in the 1st-round) and now has submitted 11 of his 12 opponents, with only Rob Sinclair surviving to a decision.
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Since neither are a force in stand-up striking, the Volkmann vs. Sass match up boils down to a "wrestler vs. submission grappler" contest. Both endeavor to bypass the Free-Movement Phase in order to impose their respective specialties on the mat, and Sass has consistently plied his trade quickly and effectively where as Volkmann is tasked with laboring away in top-position for 15 minutes.
On paper, this sure seems like nothing short of a nightmare opponent for Volkmann. Succeeding with his wrestling only places him firmly in the maw of one of the most freakishly creative submission artists in MMA today. Sass' style is so obviously venomous that I wouldn't be surprised to see Volkmann keep the fight standing to rely on his granular advantage in striking. That line of thinking might sound bizarre to anyone who's witnessed Volkmann's wrestling-heavy strategy -- however, while the power of wrestling can negate many other proficiencies, there is no way to circumvent Sass' extensive arsenal of high-tech submissions.
I'd consider both fighters as C-level strikers, but Volkmann has more pop in his boxing combinations and throws his punches a little tighter, giving him an estimated C+ grade versus a straight C or C- for Sass. Regardless, even though he might be better off sprawling-and-brawling than taking Sass down, I'm skeptical that Volkmann can execute that gameplan for 15 minutes. Sass has been creative in applying submissions and I envision him pulling guard or diving for a leg lock before chaining together his brilliant transitions until he forces the tapout.
My Prediction: Paul Sass by submission.
After dropping a decision to Tom Lawler at the TUF 8 Finale, Kyle Kingsbury rattled off an impressive streak of 4 wins: Razak Al-Hassan, Jared Hamman, Ricardo Romero and Fabio Maldonado, defeating all by decision except for Romero, which was a 1st-round TKO. Kingsbury, a former football player at Arizona State University, has learned to capitalize on his massive frame (6'4"), athleticism and strength through a wicked Thai clinch, which has become his preferred realm of combat.
Glover Teixeira has long been considered one of -- if not the -- best 205er outside of the UFC. He started his career in forgettable fashion by splitting his first 4 outings (one loss was to the UFC's Ed Herman) but has exploded with a 15-fight win streak since. Teixeira is unique in that he's a credentialed BJJ black belt who won the 2009 ADCC Brazilian trials and beat Dean Lister on points, yet he's clubbed the majority of his opponents with his malicious kickboxing (11 of 17 wins by TKO, 4 by submission). His most recent sequence includes voracious stoppages over former UFC fighters: Ricco Rodriguez (1st-round submission via strikes), Marvin Eastman (1st-round KO), Antonio Mendes (1st-round submission) and Marcio "Pe De Pano" Cruz (2nd-round TKO).
Kingsbury does have the chance to replicate his strategy against Fabio Maldonado, who has a style similar to Teixeira, by nullifying Teixeira's striking and grappling in the clinch. Kingsbury does a great job of transmitting his height and strength into massive leverage in the clinch, particularly because he grips the crown on the back of the head rather than the neck. Trying to fight or even function with your chin buried in your own chest and your upper-spine folded sharply forward can be incredibly limiting. Teixeira is not known for his wrestling and the height deficit (5'10" vs. 6'4") will fortify Kingsbury's clinch assault even more.
However, it's challenging enough to force a striking or grappling match, but it takes a special kind of fighter (see: Randy Couture) to neutralize someone in the clinch for 15 minutes. I expect Teixeira to be well aware of and prepared for Kingsbury's intentions, concentrating on footwork to avoid being cornered and stinging Kingsbury with stiff punches when he closes distance. I've been thoroughly impressed with Kingsbury and feel he has the size, skill, drive and smarts to pull it off, but the odds should favor Teixeira's violence.
My Prediction: Glover Teixeira by TKO.
Pineda has roared his way into the Octagon with back-to-back submission wins: a rear-naked choke on Pat Schilling in 1.5 minutes and a triangle-armbar combo on Mackens Semerzier in 2 minutes. The sequence extended Pineda's current win-streak to 7 and he's also kneebarred the UFC's Johnny Bedford in the past. The remarkable aspect of Pineda's record is that he's finished all 17 of his wins (11 TKOs and 6 submissions; 11 1st-round stoppages).
Mike Brown is the former WEC featherweight champion and MMA veteran from American Top Team. Though his career has been a little streaky and inconsistent, Brown is a legit 3-dimensional fighter with heavy-handed boxing, strong wrestling and black-belt level submissions. His finishing rate includes 13 wins by submission with 5 TKOs and he's spent time fighting as a lightweight as well.
Since he defeated Urijah Faber to become the featherweight champion, Brown has gone an uncharacteristic 3 of 7: his first pair of losses were TKOs to Jose Aldo and Manny Gamburyan, which were followed by back-to-back decision losses to Diego Nunes (split) and Rani Yahya (unanimous). At age 36 with over a decade of high-level competition, the years might be catching up to Brown. Normally, I'd pick him in a heartbeat against Pineda, who's wildly talented but unproven against A-list competition.
Brown's high mileage and recent slump combined with Pineda's "who gives a f*ck" attitude and fearless aggression is cause for hesitation. A prime Mike Brown would be well equipped to unhinge Pineda: his sharp boxing is suited for Pineda's wild striking style, his explosive wrestling could keep him out of trouble standing and his submission game should be sturdy enough to ward off Pineda's attempts. The Mike Brown we've seen lately has been a step slower than usual. While I'm not entirely confident about it, I suppose Brown can eke out a win here if he can still fend off Yahya's submissions and avoid the KO power of Nunes.
My Prediction: Mike Brown by decision.