Junior dos Santos vs. Frank Mir
Originally these two were slated to fight different opponents on this card, however one failed drug test changed everything. Junior Dos Santos was supposed to be fighting Alistair Overeem for the title until he dutchman pissed hot for highly elevated levels of testosterone and an impossible story to go with it. Frank Mir was supposed to fight Cain Velasquez in order to help Cain vault himself back into the title picture for a hopeful rematch with Junior. Though with Overeem off the card things got shuffled around all over the place.
This fight on paper is about as "worst case scenario" as it gets for Frank Mir. He's fighting a younder fighter who is extremely quick, very hard to take down, and has such precision with his hands he can change any fight or end any fight with one shot.Now because this is the heavyweight division striking power overall is pretty much a wash, since near everyone in the division hits hard. However I'm giving Dos Santos an edge in technical striking as well as footwork and speed. On the ground I have to assume Frank is the better grappler overall and has the better submissions because I simply have not seen enough of Dos Santos' ground game, however with how hard Junior is to take down and Frank not having the best takedowns ever I don't see how it gets down there unless Frank knocks Dos Santos down and pounces on him. I see this fight going similar to Dos Santos' fights with Gabriel Gonzaga and Roy Nelson to be honest. He will use his footwork to stay on the outside and pick his shots, exploding in for a combination while using jabs and footwork to keep Frank at bay until Junior decides it's time to come forward. I don't see this fight going the distance, eventually I see Frank taking a nap.
Prediction: Junior Dos Santos by (T)KOCain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva
Cain Velasquez is one fight removed from the 64 second knockout loss to Junior Dos Santos late last year and was originally to face Frank Mir on this card. Though this is yet another fight effected by the removal of Alistair Overeem from the event. Antonio 'Bigfoot' Silva was originally supposed to fight Roy Nelson, but when Cain Velasquez needed a short notice opponent the Brazilian was the only one willing to step up. Despite his willingness to fight above his station I'm having a tough time seeing how Bigfoot wins this fight. Cain will have the advantage in wrestling, in cardio, in pace, and in technical striking. However Bigfoot will be the larger man, and if he can get on top it may be interesting to see what he can do to Velasquez with that black belt jiu jitsu and heavy top game, assuming of course that he can somehow get on top. Silva may have a slight edge in submissions as well but Velasquez just hasn't found himself in too much trouble on that front and Bigfoot isn't a submission wiz by any stretch of the imagination. I see this fight panning out in a bad way for Bigfoot. Cain will likely get the takedown early and often and work the ground and pound game as well as forcing Bigfoot to work and eventually tire him out before forcing a referee stoppage.
Prediction: Cain Velasquez by (T)KORoy Nelson vs. Dave Herman
This is a fairly interesting matchup in that it's actually a fight Roy Nelson has a chance to win. Nelson has had a rough stretch in his last few fights, going just 1-3 in his last fought fights with his lone win over the faded and retired Mirko Cro Cop Fillipovic. Dave Herman meanwhile owns his only victory in the octagon against the unimpressive Jon Olav Einemo before losing to Stefan Struve by way of knockout. Herman has the edge here in technical striking as well as speed, however it comes at a price. Herman has been known to gas out as the fight progresses, which will present opportunities for Nelson if this fight makes it that far. Nelson has the edge in takedowns, overall grappling, and submissions. If Nelson can drag this fight to the ground he will be in great standing to finish the fight, and if he can do it early and often enough he may just be able to steal the fight way if it goes to decision. I see this fight going similarly to Hermans fight with Einemo, except Nelson will be better equipped to take an opportunity to finish the fight if it's presented to him. Look for the Salavarry position in this fight, folks.
Prediction: Roy Nelson by DecisionStefan Struve vs. Lavar Johnson
Stefan Struve was originally slated to fight Mark Hunt here, though with the Super Samoan forced out with what is reportedly a torn ACL he is replaced by Lavar Johnson, who just made short work of Pat Barry last month. Johnson truly embodies the role of the heavyweight slugger. He's big, he loves to brawl, and he's not afraid to eat shots while he's doing it. More often than not Johnson is on the right end of the brawl's he forces but I don't think Struve is going to play the game. In technical striking I give the edge to Struve, but there is something to be said for Johnsons ability to walk through a defense and swarm opponents, which has been an area of concern before for Struve. On the ground every advantage goes to Struve after Johnson's showing against Barry. The fortunate part of all this for Struve is that he appears to be looking for the takedown according to recent interviews, the bad news is that Struve is so tall he has a long way down to go if he hopes to get a shoot takedown, he will likely look to clinch up and get a trip. He will have to contend with Johnson's heavy hands in the process. I see this going one of two ways: Either Johnson lays Struve out early on , or Struve weathers the early storm and gets the takedown he needs in order to win this fight. I'm leaning Struve on this one, but it's a tentative thing.
Prediction: Stefan Struve by Submission