Unbeaten heavyweights meet on May 26 card in Las Vegas
UFC 146 is set for May 26 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The main event was scheduled to be a heavyweight title fight between champion Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem. But on Friday, UFC president Dana White pulled Overeem from the fight, anticipating him not being licensed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission at a Tuesday hearing. White announced Frank Mir as the new title challenger, moving him out of a top contenders fight with Cain Velasquez in the co-main event on the card. Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva was moved up from his fight with Roy Nelson to meet Velasquez. Gabriel Gonzaga was moved up from a fight against Shane Del Rosario that was also booked for the main card to fight Nelson. And now Miocic steps in from the outside to face Del Rosario.
Nelson (16-7, 3-3 UFC) has had a rough go of it since starting his UFC career 2-0, including a knockout win over Brendan Schaub to win Season 10 of "The Ultimate Fighter." After a second straight Knockout of the Night bonus for a 39-second stoppage of Stefan Struve in March 2010, Nelson has lost three of his last four fights.
At UFC 143 in February, Nelson lost a Fight of the Night unanimous decision to Fabricio Werdum that left him battered and bloodied – but unable to be finished. That erased the knockout win he had over Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic at UFC 137 last October that had him back in the win column after back-to-back losses to dos Santos and Mir.
Del Rosario (11-0, 3-0 Strikeforce) will be making his UFC debut after an unbeaten run in Strikeforce. He has never gone to a decision in his 11-fight career, and all but one of his wins have come in the first round. With Strikeforce, the California-based heavyweight went 3-0, including a first-round armbar submission of Lavar Johnson, who debuted with the UFC in January with flying colors, winning Knockout of the Night honors. A herniated disc suffered in a car accident has kept Del Rosario out of action since his win over Johnson last year. He fought just once in 2010 and once in 2011.
Miocic (8-0, 2-0 UFC) was highly touted coming into his UFC debut last fall, but though he won a unanimous decision against Joey Beltran at UFC 136, he was underwhelming in victory. But he changed all that in February with a 43-second Knockout of the Night win over Philip De Fries at UFC on Fuel TV: Sanchez vs. Ellenberger. The Ohio-based heavyweight now puts his unbeaten mark on the line against Del Rosario, who also is unbeaten
The genesis of the UFC 146 main card switches is from Overeem running afoul of the Nevada State Athletic Commission earlier this month when it was revealed a pre-fight drug test he took tested positive for elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone levels. Overeem on Friday was removed from the card by White, who previously had said that regardless of what might happen for an opponent for dos Santos, the Velasquez vs. Mir fight would remain on the card. Overeem was scheduled to appear in front of the NSAC on Tuesday and is expected to request a continuance in his case. In a statement released yesterday, Overeem said his elevated T/E ratio was due to a doctor-prescribed anti-inflammatory medication. His tested levels were in excess of 10:1, according to the NSAC, and have been reported to be 14:1. The NSAC's maximum standard is 6:1. Other state commissions have a standard of 4:1. The average male has a T/E ratio of 1:1.
Along with the all-heavyweight main card, UFC 146 features a featherweight fight between TUF 14 winner Diego Brandao and Darren Elkins; a middleweight bout between Jason "Mayhem" Miller and C.B. Dollaway; a welterweight bout between Dan Hardy and Duane Ludwig; lightweight fights between Paul Sass and Jacob Volkmann and Edson Barboza and Evan Dunham; and former WEC featherweight champ Mike Brown vs. Daniel Pineda.