The bigger they are the harder they fall.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) provided fans with a historic all heavyweight PPV card last night that definitely did not disappoint. Although UFC 146: Dos Santos Vs. Mir, which took place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, had been shaken up numerous times over the last two months due to injuries and Alistair Overeem’s testosterone issues, the organization once again pulled a rabbit out of their hat and made everything come together perfectly.
In the main event of the evening, Frank Mir stepped up to challenge Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos for the heavyweight title. The first round was highlighted by Cigano’s crisp boxing and Frank Mir’s inexplicable decision to attempt a total of one takedown. Mir’s decision to stand and bang with the talented Brazilian boxer left him open to multiple power shots that nearly finished the fight in the first round. The second round saw more of the same as “Cigano” smelled blood and went in for the kill knocking down Mir with a solid right hand that sent the challenger reeling backwards to the canvas. Dos Santos followed up with a short hammer fist to finish the job.
While Dos Santos’ boxing was unsurprisingly brilliant, Mir’s unwillingness to attempt takedowns was perplexing. However, it is possible that Mir was so discouraged by his inability to take Dos Santos down in the early stages of the first round that he opted to conserve his energy and trade punches with Dos Santos. Whatever the case may be, the loss sends Mir back to the bottom of the contenders list and send Dos Santos into a likely rematch with Cain Velasquez who was also in action last night.
In the co-main event, former Heavyweight title holder, Cain Velasquez, returned with a fury in one of the bloodiest matches to take place inside the octagon. Velasquez faced off against the talented and enormous Brazilian foe, Antonio “Big Foot” Silva. The turning point of the fight came early in the first round after Velasquez took the fight to the ground and dropped a sharp elbow on the bridge of Silva’s nose opening up a cut that was literally spraying out of his face. The bloodbath was so intense that Silva’s eyes were pooling with blood causing little to no visibility for the helpless Silva. While Velasquez should definitely be credited for his performance, the small cut and lack of visibility handicapped the Brazilian and should not be indicative of his skills. Nonetheless, the first round KO by Velasquez makes him the logical challenger to UFC Heavyweight title.
In other action, Roy “Big Country” Nelson faced Dave “Pee Wee” Herman and “Big Country” showed why he should never be underestimated by landing his signature overhand bomb which resulted in “Pee Wee” sitting down for a nap. The big punch landed Nelson a Knockout of the Night bonus and $70,000 in cold hard cash.
Stefan “Skyscrapper” Struve earned Submission of the Night honours for his first round armbar victory over the streaking Lavar “Big” Johnson. The UFC tallest fighter showed why his one of the most dangerous submission experts in the division and will look to finally put together a solid winning streak in the octagon.
Rounding out the main card was a clash between Shane Del Rosario and Stipe Miocic. The Croatian, Miocic, absorbed some punishing leg kicks en route to his eventual overpowering of Del Rosario. The fight provided some solid back and forth action, but Miocic proved to be too strong with his ground and pound and handed Del Rosario his first career loss.
In preliminary action, the free televised fights provided fans with just as much action as the PPV. The undercard was highlighted by an incredible upset knockout victory by former WEC lightweight champion, Jamie Varner, over the impressive Brazilian, Edson Barboza. Barboza and Varner seemed to be well matched on the feet until Varner turned on the heat and clipped Barboza with a few big shots that left Barboza unaware of his surroundings.
Dan Hardy finally returned to the win column with a knockout over Duane “Bang” Ludwig and earned himself a Knockout of the Knight Bonus as well. Coming into this fight both men were on the ropes with the organization and a loss will likely see Ludwig handed his walking papers.
Speaking of walking papers, Jason “Mayhem” Miller was cut by the UFC after his decision loss to C.B. Dollaway last night. Miller seemed to control the stand up in the first round of the fight until Miller’s knee seemingly began to give out and Dollaway took advantage with repeated takedowns for the rest of the fight. Furthermore, the dreadful cardio that Miller showed in his loss to Michael Bisping returned to plague “Mayhem” in the latter rounds which prevented him from mounting any semblance of a comeback.
Ultimate Fighter winner Diego Brandao came out guns blazing nearly finishing Darren Elkins in the first round of their 145-pound fight. However Elkins was able to weather the storm and Brandao’s cardio seemed to falter in the second and third rounds eventually dropping the last two rounds on the judges’ scorecards and losing by unanimous decision.
Rounding out the undercard were three entertaining fights: Glover Texiera made his long awaited UFC debut with an impressive manhandling of Kyle Kingsburry with solid stand-up and vicious ground and pound. Mike Brown handed Daniel Pineda a loss after their three-round war. Finally, Paul Sass improved his record to 13-0 with a beautiful transition from a triangle to an armbar that forced Jakob Volkmann to tap. The victory also earned the Brit the co-Submission of the Night award.
Daniel Pineda $2.30 vs Mike Brown $1.63
Pineda has been on an impressive run of late and he seems to have put his earlier difficulties behind him (4-6 record Aug ’08-May ’10). Brown is the former champ and I think that is part of the reason he is being given the nod here as the betting favorite. The big issues in this fight are: Brown’s recent struggles with conditioning (fading after strong starts) and the submission/ wrestling game (Pineda- 6L by Sub Brown- 13W by Sub, and Brown is a strong wrestler). I feel that Pineda has a tonne of value @ $2.30; he is a finisher and will attack Brown early which should help him if the fight does go to the judges because Brown’s best round in his recent fights has been the first. Even if Brown is able to use his wrestling and control Daniel for the first round he has been faltering badly in the 2nd and 3rd and this could cost him the decision or against a guy like Pineda he could get submitted or knocked out. A single bet on Pineda, double him up with a favorite from the main card (JDS, Velasquez, or Miocic) and maybe even include him on a larger parlay.
Kyle Kingsbury $2.80 vs Glover Teixeira $1.43
Backing a fighter debuting in the UFC as a heavy favorite is almost always a risky venture as we don’t know how he will respond to the increased level of competition and pressure that comes in the big leagues. Teixeira is a legitimate talent and Kingsbury’s conditioning and striking defense is a huge concern. He took a tonne of damage against Fabio Maldondo and Glover (11 wins by KO) is not the type of fighter that you want to let hit you with consistency. I would consider Texixeira okay to include on a parlay, but don’t allow him to be woven too deeply into your betting plan.
Paul Sass $2.65 vs Jacob Volkmann $1.49
Is Sass a one trick pony? Maybe. 11 of 12 wins by Submission, would certainly put him in that category, but many fighters have made a good career as this type of fighter. The big issues is what does Sass have to offer if he is unable to submit his opponent? Volkman has been dominant in his UFC run, not exciting, but certainly effective. He has good top control, but Escudero was able to catch him in a sub late, but he survived. Simply put this fight comes down to will Sass be able to a) get Volkman down and b) submit him. Those are two big if’s; Volkman should be able to dictate where the fight takes place and will most likely only go to the ground if he feels comfortable defending the sub. There is always a chance that Sass could catch him, but I don’t like it. Use Volkman as part of a parlay or maybe Volkman & Pineda for an early payout.
Duane Ludwig $2.00 vs Dan Hardy $1.77
Backing Duane Ludwig in a fight that will be primarily contested on the feet is never a bad idea, especially when he is paying out at 2-1. Ludwig’s chin is a question mark or many would like to believe so as he has 5 defeats by KO, but that number can be a little misleading. His last TKO victory was due to an ankle injury, so in reality he has only been knocked out 4 times. The last real stoppage was in 2008 when a doctor stopped the fight against the heavy handed Takanori Gomi, and to find his last actual knockout defeat you have to go back to ’07 against Paul Daley who has knocked a lot of people out (20). Hardy doesn’t have the ground game to threaten Ludwig, he seemed to lack that killer instinct from earlier in his career, but he does have the type of power to hurt Duane if he can land it. Ludwig’s conditioning is a little bit of a concern, but I like him @ $2.00 as a single bet or as part of a parlay.
C.B. Dollaway $2.20 vs Jason Miller $1.67
This is one of those fights that has some big questions. Was Miller’s performance against Bisping a fluke? What Dollaway is going to show up; the one that dominated round 1 vs Hamman or round 2? Is Mayhem’s striking as bad as it looked? I thought Dollaway’s striking looked good against Munoz until he got caught, so he should have the edge here. On the ground I like Miller’s BJJ, but a) Dollaway’s wrestling should help him to avoid it and b) Miller’s cardio could prevent him from fighting a full three rounds on top. Again there are a lot of concerns on both sides of this fight, so for me I don’t want my entire evening to hinge on this fight consider putting him in a low risk high reward parlay (see my parlays above) or a single bet on Dollaway at $2.20 if you want to make this fight one and done.
Jamie Varner 4.50 vs Edson Barboza 1.19
Varner is a veteran so it is hard to discount him in any fight, but Barboza is a dangerous striker and should be able to dictate the pace of this fight from start to finish. Even though I expect Barboza to win t $1.19 he doesn’t have a great deal of value. If you wanted to double him up with an underdog you go take that route or use him as a single bet but it will be high risk low reward. I would avoid Varner altogether, there are other underdogs on this card that don’t pay as well but have far more potential to pull the upset that you should take a look at.
Darren Elkins $2.85 vs Diego Brandao $1.43
This is one of the fights that I was referring to in the above breakdown. Brandao was a beast on the show, but now he begins his post TUF career and does so against a veteran fighter who is making his 5th UFC appearance. Brandao is aggressive, he has 8 wins by knockout, and will have the striking advantage. If he is able to keep this fight vertical he should emerge victorious, but if Elkins uses his wrestling he should be able to grind out a win. Now Brandao is a BJJ Black belt and trains under Greg Jackson so he should be well prepared, but Elkins’s size advantage that should carry the day. He will stand 3″ taller and have a huge 7″ reach advantage which will force Brandao to close the distance during the striking exchanges leaving him open to be taken down. Elkins is a good single bet, combining him with JDS or Velasquez will add some needed value to the main card or a small parlay would also be worth a look.
Lavar Johnson 1.95 vs Stefan Struve 1.80
This fight really comes down to Johnson’s power against Struve’s submission skills. Both men have lofty win totals in their areas of expertise and a concerning number of losses in their specific areas of difficulty. Struve’s striking is far better then Johnson’s ground game, which gives Struve more overall skill levels which is normally a good reason to back a fighter, but not in this fight. Even though Struve towers over his opponents he hasn’t done a good job of using his physical advantages. Further, he has a tendency to allow his opponent to back him against the cage and land with regularity which is something that fits Lavar’s mode of operation nicely. If Johnson is able to control Struve on the wall and unload with power Struve will not be given the opportunity to rebound. Johnson will need to avoid getting taken down, which is a real possibility considering Pat Barry took him down, but Struve’s slow starts against Barry, Dave Herman, Christian Morecraft and knockout defeats against Roy Nelson, JDS and Travis Browne are too much to overlook here. Take Johnson on a single bet and as part of one of your main parlays, but not all of them because of the real threat of a submission defeat.
Shane del Rosario 2.25 vs Stipe Miocic 1.63
Someone’s zero has to go. Del Rosario is both making his UFC debut and returning after a long layoff which is a major concern. Strikeforce fighters have had good success so far, but Miocic has looked impressive and should be able to match del Rosario just about wherever the fight goes. Miocic is a solid bet at $1.63 both by himself and as a focal point of the evenings parlays. Del Rosario has talent but I feel confident backing Stipe in this position and I would expect these could be the best odds we see for Miocic for some time to come.
Dave Herman 2.75 vs Roy Nelson 1.43
I took Herman to win this fight, but he isn’t my favorite bet. Herman has been inconsistent at best so far and his in cage mentality is a nightmare to back financially because you don’t know what to expect. Against Struve he started off very well, but lacked that killer instinct and showed no real urgency even when Struve began to the turn the fight. Herman’s cardio is questionable, but so is Nelson’s. Roy has been improving his physical conditioning, but he still took a tonne of damage against Werdum and his offensive output dropped off the longer the fight went. Nelson will need to attack early and try to either catch Herman with his over hand right or use his grappling to take him down and control him in a similar fashion to how he use to operate on the Ultimate Fighter. I liker Herman’s reach advantage (4″), height advantage (4″) and wide arsenal of kicks to help him to maintain separation and stay away from Roy’s biggest weapons. Nelson does a nice job of rushing his opponent and pinning them along the cage, but Herman’s movement should help him to avoid this. Herman also has had success using the Thai clinch and knees which is an area that Nelson has struggled with in the past. Herman as a single is okay, maybe a combo with Elkins, Dollaway or any other underdog to create a low risk high reward payout.
Antonio Silva 4.00 vs Cain Velasquez 1.23
Silva is coming off a tough loss against Daniel Cormier, who happens to be a teammate of his current opponent Cain Velasquez. Velasquez should be motivated to get his belt back and he will want to use this fight to start another title run. Velasquez has the fast hands and power similar to Cormier who knocked out Silva and he has the grappling skills similar to Fabricio Werdum who was able to take Silva down and control him on the ground for a decision win. Silva has skills, but his greatest asset is his size. He used it effectively against both Mike Kyle and Fedor, where he was able to get on top and do a lot of damage to an opponent not able to get off his back. Velasquez has dealt with big men before and was still able to his wrestling effectively despite their size and I don’t see Cain getting taken down here. See his fights with Brock Lesnar, Cheick Kongo and Ben Rothwell for his fights against big men similar to Silva. Velasquez doesn’t pay overly well, I have suggested that you combine him with a better paying underdog from early in the night or take a look at a prop bet. I don’t have a lot of faith in Silva, especially now that he is a “big fish” in an even bigger pond. He showed some striking ability against Andrei Arlovski, but considering he was one of few men during that period not to knockout the Pitbull maybe that is the most significant thing he showed in that fight. Until he proves he can do more then just use his size, I can’t back him with with any form of investment.
Frank Mir 4.50 vs Junior Dos Santos 1.20
Frank Mir isn’t the best wrestler that JDS has faced, nor is he the most dangerous striker that he has faced yet he still is a threat to the title. How much of a threat? Worth putting a little bit of cash down on him at $4.50, probably a little but don’t go too far. I think that the combination of Junior’s striking skill and TDD will prove too much for Mir to overcome. At $1.20, JDS isn’t a great single bet option but if you double him up with a couple of dogs example: JDS + Elkins= $3.42 JDS + Pineda= $2.76 and JDS + Ludwig= $2.40 all you need is 2 of 3 dogs to hit along with the Champ to make the main event much more financially lucrative. If you want to keep things simply you can probably get JDS by knockout or inside the first round at a better rate then a straight up win.
1. Edson Barboza
2. Junior Dos Santos
3. Cain Velasquez
4. Jacob Volkman
5. Stipe Miocic
1. Stipe Miocic $1.61
2. Daniel Pineda $2.30
3. Lavar Johnson $1.91
4. Duane Ludwig $2.00
5. Darren Elkins $2.85
6. CB Dollaway $2.20
Daniel Pineda/ Mike Brown Total rounds under 1.5– Pineda is a finisher and has vulnerabilities to being submitted and Brown will be desperate to finish early and avoid a late fight let down.
Jacob Volkman/Paul Sass Total rounds over 1.5- Volkman is a grinding machine and if he wins this fight it will most likely be the result of 3 rounds of submission defense and smothering top control.
Edson Barboza by KO/TKO/DQ- Barboza is a dangerous striker and doesn’t pay that well to win straight up. If you want to bet on this fight take him by knockout to increase his value, but it still wont be above $2.00.
Stefan Struve/ Lavar Johnson Total rounds under 1.5- No matter who wins I can’t see this fight going the distance is either going to be Struve via something on the ground (GnP or Sub) or Johnson via knockout.
Roy Nelson/ Dave Herman Total rounds over 1.5- Of all the heavyweight fights this one has the greatest potential to go the distance. Nelson has an incredible chin and Herman would be best served to remain and distance and outpoint Nelson.
Cain Velasquez by KO/TKO/DQ- Cain did a nice job taking Rothwell down and relentlessly pounding on him until the ref stopped it, that is an option covered here. Cain also showed knockout power against Big Nog that could stop Silva, which again would be included here.
Junior Dos Santos by KO/TKO/DQ- JDS hurts and usually knockouts everyone he faces, Mir has issues with being knocked out so this makes sense. Nothing more needs to be said.