Every time UFC puts on an event, speculation, questions and theories arise about which fighters will perform, or under perform. Will new contenders emerge? Will established ones fall? Where will the winners go? Which losers will still have a job on Monday? Who is healthy? Who is fighting injured? Anytime the UFC athletes are set to enter the octagon, questions follow.
That being said, here are four burning questions going into “UFC 146: Dos Santos vs. Mir”.
4. Can Frank Mir Take Down Junior Dos Santos?
Junior Dos Santos has competed in eight UFC fights and his skills on the ground are still a mystery. Dos Santos has shown the ability to stay on his feet and defend takedowns against Roy Nelson, Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez; all three of which have respectable wrestling skills. However, dos Santos’ opponent at UFC 146, Frank Mir, is an entirely different animal on the ground compared to what the champion has faced so far. As evident by his arm-snapping submission of Antonio Rodrgio Nogueira last December, Mir has perhaps the most dangerous ground game of any heavyweight fighter in MMA.
Unless he knocks Mir out quickly, there is absolutely no question that the ground skills of dos Santos are going to be put to the test in this fight. Dos Santos may find himself on his back on at least one occasion; how he reacts from there could be the deciding factor in who comes out the winner.
3. How Will Cain Velasquez Rebound From His First Career Loss?
Seven months ago Cain Velasquez was on top of the world. Undefeated, the first Mexican heavyweight champion in UFC history and a path of destruction behind him. Velasquez dominated all comers until he ran into Junior Dos Santos at UFC on FOX 1 last November. Dos Santos came into the fight and took the belt from around Velasquez’s waist via knockout just 64-seconds into the first round.
The loss was the first of the 29-year-olds career, and in his first fight since losing the belt; he will take on Antonio Silva in the co-main event at UFC 146. The fight between Velasquez and Silva has been labeled a top contenders bout and a victory could be enough to earn a title shot in the relatively shallow heavyweight division. That ads even more pressure to Velasquez’s shoulders because he is not only expected to win, but to do it impressively as well. There’s really no telling what kind of performance Velasquez will have, though, as every fighter handles their first loss differently.
2. Five Heavyweight Bouts On The Main Card: Baller or Bust?
Not to be pessimistic, but the last time the UFC scheduled more than one heavyweight fights on a main card, well, it turned out disastrous. The event was UFC 135 in Denver, Colorado where two heavyweight fights (Travis Browne vs. Rob Broughton & Mark Hunt vs. Ben Rothwell) showcased about every downside there is to having the biggest of big men square off in the octagon. The four heavyweights displayed sloppy mixed martial arts paired with horrendous cardio in two cringe-worthy 15-minute fights. The two fights were the most lackluster on the card and bored everyone watching to tears. This Saturday at UFC 146, the UFC has scheduled FIVE heavyweight bouts on the main card. Granted, the ten heavyweights fighting on the UFC 146 card are in better shape and higher-level athletes than those who fought at UFC 135, but when heavyweights enter the octagon it usually ends one of two ways; a devastating early knockout/submission or a sloppy three-round slugfest. The UFC is really rolling the dice with this card, hopefully it plays out positively.
1. Can Lavar Johnson Win Two Fights In 21 Days?
Stepping in for the injured Mark Hunt against Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve on just 10 days notice, heavyweight slugger Lavar Johnson will look to do the unthinkable by winning two UFC fights in the span of 21 days. You may remember seeing Johnson in the octagon just a few weeks ago when he destroyed Pat Barry inside of one round at UFC on FOX 3. Johnson absorbed little damage in that fight with Barry, but with all the knocks fighters take throughout a training camp, turning around to compete again so soon after a fight could see Johnson in peak fighting shape, or he could fall completely flat.
In recent UFC history, there is only one man to attempt to complete a similar feat to Johnson. In 2010, Chris Leben had a similar turnaround when he defeated Aaron Simpson and Yoshihiro Akiyama in a span of 14 days. It’s very hard to predict what type of Johnson we will see on Saturday night. With so little time to train for an opponent like Struve, most of Johnson’s preparation for the fight will be mental. If he can get past the fact he just had a fight on May 5 and put the physical stress of that to the side, he has a very good chance of winning.
This article was written by Mike Bohn, founder and lead writer of FightCove.com. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @FightCoveMike. Also, be sure to follow @FightCove on Twitter and “Like” Fight Cove on Facebook.