The ProMMAnow.com (www.prommanow.com) staff has joined forces once again to share our thoughts and predictions on each of the UFC 146 main card bouts. And for our bonus preliminary card pick we have included predictions for the Jason “Mayhem” Miller vs. C.B. Dollaway middleweight bout.
Will Junior Dos Santos be successful in his first heavyweight title defense against Frank Mir? Will former champion Cain Velasquez get back on track as he welcomes Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva to the UFC? Can Dave Herman prove he belongs in the big leagues with a win over Roy Nelson? Can Stefan Struve survive the knockout power of Lavar Johnson? Who will get their first taste of defeat when Stipe Miocic and Shane Del Rosario clash?
We answer all these questions and more in the ProMMAnow.com UFC 146 staff picks. And without further ado…
Heavyweight Championship bout
Junior Dos Santos (14-6) vs. Frank Mir (16-5)
ODDS: Dos Santos -500 vs. Mir +375
ORON L. CRAWFORD: Only four of the seventeen UFC heavyweight champions have successfully defended their heavyweight title. Junior Dos Santos is looking to be the fifth man to do that and the betting lines in Vegas are favoring him to do just that. It is a no brainer that in the standup, this is Junior Dos Santos’ fight. He has some of the best boxing skill in the UFC. Frank Mir has to get this fight to the ground to win, when it hits the ground, Mir is one of the most dangerous heavyweights in the game. Dos Santos has shown good take down defense but one thing that favors Mir is he does not necessarily need to be on top on the ground. Mir has incredibly fast hips for a heavyweight and works very well off his back in looking for subs. Mir’s heart has been called into question by Dos Santos, specifically during the Primetime series preceding this fight. The champion has essentially said When Mir gets into trouble he folds, based on his performances against Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin. I don’t necessarily believe that was a matter of heart as much as two men who are more like Gorilla’s were caving in his face. I do think this is Junior Dos Santos’ fight. He should be able to keep it on the feet and be able to land on Mir. On the feet Mir needs to play the clinch game, that has been his undoing in his recent losses, but those opponents were bigger than Santos and Mir. I don’t see Mir being able to get on the inside though, Junior’s reach and hand speed will be his undoing. Winner: Junior Dos Santos by 2nd round KO.
JOSH CROSS: Mir has shown time and time again just how dangerous he remains in a fight no matter how much trouble he is in. The problem though for Mir in this fight is that if he does get rocked early on like in his last bout with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, JDS will likely finish him soon after. I think Mir’s toughness will help carry him deeper into this bout than some of JDS’ previous opponents, but ultimately I think the outcome will be the same. Pick: dos Santos via TKO.
JOHN BUHL: Mir has a chance, but it’s a really, really small one. Even though he might point to his wins over Cheick Kongo and a faded Mirko Cro Cop, Mir hasn’t faced anyone with striking as dangerous and accurate as dos Santos. On top of that, dos Santos has a big advantage in the speed and athleticism department; Mir had a ton of trouble taking down Cro Cop, so expected dos Santos to keep things on the feet as long as he wants. Dos Santos keeps his title with a second-round TKO.
RICHARD MANN: Mir obviously has an advantage on the ground. However, he has never had the best takedowns. Look for Dos Santos to land a few hard shots early, get the ball rolling down hill and finish the fight. Mir has improved when it comes to dealing with adversity, but he still falters when forced to take a lot of punishment. Dos Santos by TKO.
GARY THOMAS: Heavyweights make for entertainment and Mir vs JDS will be entertaining. It will fun to watch Mir try to take Dos Santos down and it will be exciting to see Dos Santos throw hands . No one has forced JDS to a ground battle and I do not believe Mir will be the first. JDS via TKO round 2.
BRIAN FURBY: Frank Mir.
DENNY HODGE: JDS is the champion but will be looking to cement his status as the best heavyweight on the planet with a successful title defense. He will do just that. He’s simply just too athletic in this match up. With his range and control of distance and space, Mir is in for a tough night. Mir has gotten rocked during exchanges in the past, but has also proven to be dangerous when his opponents get overzealous trying for a finish. I expect Dos Santos to be patient when going in for the finish, but it won’t take him long to find the button and get Mir out of there. Dos Santos by TKO in the first.
JACK BRATCHER: Junior’s speed, athleticism, strength and punching power will allow him to put on a Chuck LIddell-esque performance against Frank Mir. He will stop any type of takedown attempts and beat Mir up on the feet. This fight will likely not go past the first round. I’m a fan of Frank Mir and he has good boxing for a heavyweight, but he does not want to play that game with Junior. Frank would love to get this fight on the ground. Unfortunately when he goes to the ground, he will likely be on his back and all alone. Pick: Junior Dos Santos by first round KO.
KELVIN HUNT: JDS via KO rd. 1
Cain Velasquez (9-1) vs. Antonio Silva (16-3)
ODDS: Velasquez -400 vs. Silva +300
ORON L. CRAWFORD: I found the original bout between Velasquez and Mir a lot more intriguing that this one. Word coming out of Velasquez camp is that the former UFC Heavyweight Champion is 100% healed up from injury. Velasquez training partner Daniel Cormier KO’ed Antonio Silva in round one of their Strikeforce fight in September of last year so AKA have got Silva good and scouted. I think Velasquez will be able to take Silva down and unload some ground and pound. Just because Cormier got the KO win, I don’t think that means Silva is ‘chinny’ so although I don’t see him winning, I think he will survive the three rounds. Winner: Cain Velasquez by Decision.
JOSH CROSS: I don’t have too many thoughts on this fight. I just think Silva’s chin is suspect and won’t be able to hold up to what Velasquez throws at it. If these two end up on the ground I give the edge to Velasquez there as well. I think that if Silva does win this bout it’s going to be because of his ‘puncher’s chance’ and that’s about it. Pick: Velasquez via TKO.
JOHN BUHL: Because of Antonio Silva’s size and strong Jiu Jitsu game, he poses an interesting match-up for Velasquez. Will the former collegiate wrestler want to take Silva down and test his ground game? On the feet, can Silva’s reach frustrate Velasquez? In the end, Velasquez should find a way to win. His teammate and training partner blasted Silva in quick fashion, so I’m sure AKA can devise a game plan for Velasquez to test Silva’s chin. And if this becomes a war of attrition, Velasquez has the better cardio. Silva’s best chance is if he somehow gets top position on the mat and uses his ground-and-pound. I don’t see that happening. Velasquez by third-round TKO.
RICHARD MANN: Silva will be a lot slower on the feet and will be unable to take this fight to the ground. Also if you list to interviews with Daniel Cormier after he defeated Silva, you get the idea that the guys at AKA have figured out a pretty solid gameplan to attack Silva. Look for a quick knockout. Velasquez by TKO.
GARY THOMAS: I think Bigfoot Silva has no idea what he is about to get in the cage with. I think we see a more determined and more aggressive Velasquez and he finishes his fight early in the first round.
BRIAN FURBY: Cain Velasquez.
DENNY HODGE: Cain will have some inside intel on “Bigfoot” but I don’t see him having the same success on the feet that his training partner Cormier had. Silva’s reach will be a problem for Cain, so takedown attempts will probably come quick and heavy. He cannot afford to end up on his back with “Bigfoot” on top, as Silva has displayed some brutal ground-and-pound abilities from the top. In the end, I believe that Cain will control where the fight takes place and will mix in enough takedowns and top control to earn a nod on the cards. Velasquez by decision.
JACK BRATCHER: Cain Velasquez is just one fight removed from being the UFC heavyweight champion. He has all the tools and skill he needs to remain one of the very best heavyweights in the game. And I think we will see a rematch with JDS down the road here. He took a hard shot to the back-side of the head from JDS that cut his night short and it’s common knowledge now he was not 100% going into that fight. I’m a fan of Bigfoot and he’s a well-rounded heavyweight but Cain Velasquez is going to give him a rude welcome to the UFC Octagon. Cain wins via TKO.
KELVIN HUNT: Velasquez via TKO Rd. 2
Roy Nelson (17-7) vs. Dave Herman (21-3)
ODDS: Nelson -220 vs. Herman +180
ORON L. CRAWFORD: Nelson has never been submitted in his career, had the durability to last three rounds with current Heavyweight champ tagging him with strikes and only has been finished once in his career. I think this is a tough match up for Herman. Herman has said ‘Jui-jitsu’ doesn’t work but I think he’ll see that Nelson’s ground game will work. Herman took this bout on three weeks notice so I don’t know how much gas he’ll have in the tank, he will look for the KO but I don’t think he’ll find it. I see Nelson controlling this bout, working for subs and eventually getting one. Winner Roy Nelson by Submission round 2.
JOSH CROSS: I think this fight will probably go the distance. If that is indeed what happens it could be a toss up depending on each fighter’s game plan. Ultimately though I think Nelson will be able to do enough to pick up the decision. Pick: Nelson via Decision.
JOHN BUHL: As I’ve said before, Dave Herman is a great athlete with a ton of potential. But mentally he doesn’t respond well to adversity, as we saw in the Stefan Struve fight. Nelson is tough as nails and will weather Herman’s early storm and outwork him in the later rounds. Nelson by decision.
RICHARD MANN: Look for Herman to come out with some crazy attacks and look solid on the feet early. However, at one point Nelson will land a big shot and the wheels will come off for Herman. Imagine the Choi Mu-Bae fight in reverse except with a reasonably solid heavyweight instead of a Korean journeyman. Nelson by TKO.
GARY THOMAS: I like the Nelson vs Herman fight but I hate that it was last minute for Herman . I think he would fare better with a week or so longer training camp. Nelson needs the win and Herman may be the best shot to get it at this point in the division. Roy Nelson 3rd Round TKO.
BRIAN FURBY: Roy Nelson.
DENNY HODGE: Herman is an insanely athletic and gifted fighter. His true potential is pretty unlimited, but can he put it together and get a win against a guy of Nelson’s caliber? Nelson is a pretty tough match up for Herman. Struve was able to get in a dominant top position and finish Herman, and Struve has nothing on Nelson’s top game. If Nelson gets on top, you can bet a “crucifix” is coming. Nelson by TKO.
JACK BRATCHER: Dave was on Pro MMA Now Radio last week. Be sure to check that out. I’m a fan of Herman and am very sore about him dropping the “Pee Wee” nickname. He always has a chance, you can’t count him out completely but I think Roy is going to be too tough and too well-rounded. He has a tendency to drop his hands and Roy could make him pay for that. And if the fight goes to the ground, it’s all Nelson. I’d love nothing more than to see Dave get this win but, gonna have to pick Nelson via TKO — possibly using his patented crucifix.
KELVIN HUNT: Nelson via TKO Rd. 3
Shane del Rosario (11-0) vs. Stipe Miocic (8-0)
ODDS: Del Rosario +140 vs. Miocic -170
ORON L. CRAWFORD: This is an exciting bout between two undefeated heavyweights. These are two big dudes, throwing nasty strikes wearing 4 oz gloves. Only one of Rosario’s 11 fights has gone out of the first round. Del Rosario is coming off a 14 month layoff so ring rust could be an issue. I believe Del Rosario is the more well rounded fighter but that long of a layoff is tough and this isn’t a gimme match in his first bout back and first with the UFC. I think Miocic will be able to pull the trigger faster through this bout and land shots. Winner: Stipe Miocic by 3nd round TKO.
JOSH CROSS: There are several interesting aspects of this bout in my opinion. The most obvious aspect that will catch a lot of people’s attention is that these are two undefeated fighters battling to keep their perfect record intact. But it will also be interesting to see how del Rosario performs in his first fight back after a long layoff due to injury. In Miocic’s case, it will also be interesting to see how he holds up against the tough test del Rosario poses. In the end though, I just think that there are too many unknowns with del Rosario’s return, so I’m going to have to pick Miocic to get the win. Pick: Miocic via Decision.
JOHN BUHL: I like del Rosario’s striking game, but Miocic has looked pretty good on the feet himself, and if he’s losing the stand-up battle, he can fall back on his wrestling and take down del Rosario. Between that and his UFC experience, Miocic should win by decision.
RICHARD MANN: Del Rosario has face better competition than most people would think, but Miocic is still in good shape to pull the upset. The former wrestler’s ability to fight in the clinch will be the deciding factor. If Del Rosario does not get an early finish, then he will tire out quickly. Miocic by decision.
GARY THOMAS: Someone has to lose this fight and someone gets a big bump in the standings. Stipe Miocic and Shane del Rosario is such a tough fight to pick because they are both so good. I believe the winner of this is just as good and deserving of the attention that Daniel Cormier is getting. If I have to pick I am going with a 2nd round TKO for Stipe Miocic.
BRIAN FURBY: Stipe Miocic.
DENNY HODGE: I talked to Miocic last week and he had nothing but good things to say about Del Rosario. He’s not a big trash talker, but the fact is, he is a super athlete. The guy competed as a collegiate baseball player and a wrestler. Throw in his golden gloves credentials and you have a fighter that can compete wherever a fight may go. Del Rosario has said that he will be the quicker and more athletic guy in this fight but I don’t see anyway that he can beat Miocic in this one. Miocic by TKO.
JACK BRATCHER: Someone’s 0 has to go. It’s interesting everyone is picking Miocic. Del Rosario is making his UFC debut coming over from Strikeforce. It’s doubtful this one goes the distance. I’ve got a good feeling about Rosario. He’s got some quality wins under his belt, seems a bit more well-rounded and has a strong team behind him. Del Rosario by decision.
KELVIN HUNT: Miocic via unanimous decision
Stefan Struve (27-5) vs. Lavar Johnson (17-5)
ODDS: Struve -135 vs. Johnson +105
ORON L. CRAWFORD: Lavar Johnson’s profile has risen since his UFC on FOX victory over Pat Barry. He is one big nasty dude and if he connects with Struve’s chin it will be over. But he has a glaring hole in his game on the ground and Struve has shown good submission ability. I think Johnson will swarm Struve, knock him down jump into his guard and Struve’s long legs will either wrap on a triangle or he’ll grab an arm for an armbar. Winner: Stefan Struve by Submission round 1.
JOSH CROSS: I think Struve’s best chance to win this fight is to get it to the ground and get it there quick. Johnson is known for his heavy hands that have finished his previous opponents very quickly. Struve should spend as little time as possible on his feet in this bout especially knowing that his chin probably won’t hold up against Johnson’s fists. That being said, I just think Struve’s chances to win will be much fewer and far between in the bout and that’s why I’m going with Johnson to get the win. Pick: Johnson via TKO.
JOHN BUHL: My first thought was that Johnson will destroy Struve on the feet and get the knockout. For Struve to win, he needs to take Johnson down and use his submission game; too bad Struve can’t really wrestle. But as we saw, Johnson ended up on his back against BJJ neophyte Pat Barry, and if Struve gets him there, unlike Barry, he’ll get the finish. I’m taking Johnson by second round KO, but a Struve submission is a possibility.
RICHARD MANN: Struve is a true gamer. Even when he wins, he looks like he has taken a serious beating. However, after seeing Johnson destroy Pat Barry it seems unlikely that Struve will be able to survive and pull off a miracle submission. Johnson by TKO.
GARY THOMAS: Struve has so many advantages in his favor including his height and reach on most of his opponents. He has shown he has great potential as a rising star. Johnson is coming off of a great victory over Pat Barry but it is from one extreme to the next. Little to big. Johnson has the knockout power and momentum. I think the last minute change favors Johnson and I think that will equate to a second round Knockout. Lavar Johnson via KO.
BRIAN FURBY: Lavar Johnson.
DENNY HODGE: Johnson is streaking. He’s put together a nice run in the UFC, but will be in trouble once Struve gets the fight to the mat. Barry had him in trouble on the ground in their bout, and Struve is much more capable at finishing a fight by submission. Johnson will come out fast and furious, but Struve will weather the storm and get the win on the mat. Struve by submission.
JACK BRATCHER: I’m a little surprised so many people are picking Johnson over Struve. Johnson’s biggest weakness is Struve’s strongest asset, and that’s the submission game. Johnson can KO just about anyone he connects with and that’s certainly a possibility here, however, I think Struve will be able to hold his own standing, eventually get the fight to the ground and submit Mr. Johnson.
KELVIN HUNT: Struve via submission
Jason Miller (24-9, 1 NC) vs. C.B. Dollaway (12-5)
ODDS: Miller -150 vs. Dollaway +120
ORON L. CRAWFORD: I think Mayhem Miller gets back on track here after a disastrous UFC debut when he lost to Michael Bisping at the Ultimate Fighter season 14 Finale. I think he’ll take it to the mat and control from there, work for subs. Dollaway has had some issues with Guillotine choke defense, so that might be Miller’s route to victory in this one. Winner: Jason Miller by submission round 3.
JOSH CROSS: I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that cardio could be a major factor in this bout. Miller got tired pretty early in his last bout with Michael Bisping, but to his credit that was Miller’s first fight in more than a year. I think Dollaway will start off strong in this bout, but as long as Miller can weather the storm and not tire out, I think he picks up the decision. Pick: Miller via Decision.
JOHN BUHL: Slight advantage on the feet for Dollaway, obvious submission advantage for Miller. I’d like to pick Miller by submission, but his cardio looked pretty bad against Michael Bisping. Octagon jitters or not, it wasn’t a good sign, and his wrestling isn’t strong enough to control the fight. Dollaway by decision in a slopfest.
RICHARD MANN: Miller may not be what his fanatics think he is: a title contender. However, he can still win fights on this level. He might not be able to take Dollaway down. He will be able to pepper him with kicks and probably catch him a submission. If he loses here, it will be the biggest indictment of his career to date. Miller by submission.
GARY THOMAS: In my heart I really want Mayhem to win and I think that Joe Silva and the UFC have given him the best chance to do that with CB Dollaway. I am skeptical of his commitment lately but I think his experience will prove the deciding factor. Mayhem Miller by decision.
BRIAN FURBY: Jason Miller.
DENNY HODGE: I really hope we see a different “Mayhem” in this one. Maybe it was the blond hair. Maybe it was jitters. Either way, he has a good shot at getting in the win column against Dollaway. Dollaway will have a slight advantage standing but will likely end up taking it to the mat. Miller is dangerous there, and his grappling will make the difference in this one. Miller by submission.
JACK BRATCHER: Remember how horrible Jason Miller looked in his UFC debut? I can’t get that image out of my mind. It almost seemed like he was overwhelmed by being back on the biggest stage in the world for MMA. He has the physical skill, but mentally he could fold again. With two losses in a row, Dollaway’s back is against the wall here. Miller could win a grappling match with Dollaway but I see these guys possibly duking it out on the feet with Dollaway getting the TKO win.
KELVIN HUNT: Dollaway via unanimous decision
All photos by Kristyn Adamakis for ProMMAnow.com.