Heavyweight titleholder defends belt against two-time champ
LAS VEGAS – Frank Mir shot for an early takedown against Junior dos Santos in the main event of UFC 146 on Saturday. The heavyweight champion stayed on his feet, wriggled out of a footlock, then shook his finger at Mir as if to say, "That'll be enough of that."
Mir, perhaps the greatest submission artist in heavyweight history, didn't get off another takedown attempt the rest of the fight and dos Santos, considered by many to be the division's best boxer, won with a second-round TKO.
The win, in front of an announced crowd of 14,592 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, was dos Santos' first defense of the heavyweight title he won against Cain Velasquez in November. And Velasquez, with an impressive stoppage of Antonio Silva in the co-main event, earned his rematch with the champ.
"I'm here to stay," dos Santos said after the fight. "Cain Velasquez is really tough. He's very different in this division. He's very fast and his stamina is really good for our division. For sure, he's dangerous and a good fight. But I don't care who's going to be my opponent. Whoever the UFC puts against me, I'll watch his fights and make my strategy to beat him. If I have to fight with Cain Velasquez again, I'm ready. Let's do that."
And do that, they apparently will – though the date and location is still to be determined. UFC president Dana White confirmed after the fight that the promotion's plan is for dos Santos and Velasquez to meet again.
Dos Santos used a dominant striking game to continually land big shots against Mir, changing levels to throw punches to the body as well as the head. Mir survived a barrage in the first round, but in the second dos Santos landed a big right that put the former champ on his backside. Dos Santos pounced on Mir, landing shots on the ground until Mir appeared to try to defend by going after dos Santos' arm. At that point, dos Santos pulled out and got back to his feet before diving back in for one finishing shot.
"I wanted to get the takedown early and I thought it would catch him by surprise," Mir said after the fight. "He defended it so well that I thought I could get it later in the fight when it wasn't fresh on his mind. His footwork was awesome and that's the thing I had the hardest time with."
In the co-main event, Velasquez caught Silva early and began working a vicious ground-and-pound that cut the bigger Brazilian between his eyes. The blood pouring out was enough that the fight was stopped for a doctor to check the cut. But after the restart, it was more of the same ground-and-pound from Velasquez until the fight was stopped. Following the post-fight press conference, White said he was disappointed in what he deemed to be a late stoppage by referee Josh Rosenthal.
In other action on the all-heavyweight main card, Stefan Struve submitted Lavar Johnson just 51 seconds into their pay-per-view opener with an armbar; Stipe Miocic remained unbeaten, stopping fellow-unbeaten heavyweight Shane del Rosario with a second-round TKO; and Roy Nelson picked up what White alluded may have been a job-saving win by knocking out Dave Herman.