If you don’t like heavyweights then you aren’t going to be a fan of Saturday night’s UFC card from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Not only is the main event a Junior Dos Santos title defense against Frank Mir, but all five fights on the main card feature the biggest of fighters.
The fight has seen a lot of change. Dos Santos was supposed to fight Alistair Overeem, the guy who ended Brock Lesnar’s MMA career in his UFC debut. However, Overeem failed a drug test in March. That meant that Mir, Antonio Silva, Dave Herman and Stipe Miocic all moved up the card. Those changes all happened in late April, though, so they shouldn’t play a big role in these fights since everyone has had plenty of time to get ready for their new opponents.
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Here’s how the main card plays out with some betting predictions (all odds are from Bovada):
UFC Heavyweight Championship — Junior Dos Santos (-500) vs. Frank Mir (+350)
There is a nice revenge angle in this one.
Mir was the first guy to ever get Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to submit when he did so at UFC 140. Dos Santos is a Nogueira disciple who will be out to restore honor to his camp.
Mir’s submission in that fight was no fluke. It has been his key to success, right back to when he won this title in 2004. The problem for the challenger, though, is that he struggles to take a big punch. And Dos Santos has the biggest punch in his division. If the champ can line up a punch he can end this one. And given his speed, ability to move, strategy, and comparative youth it’s a good bet that he’ll be able to land that punch — probably early on.
If this one makes it past the second round then that’s an upset. Mir is not in a good spot.
Pick: Junior Dos Santos
Cain Velasquez (-380) vs. Antonio Silva (+280)
It’s hard to know what to expect from Velasquez because we have seen him so rarely recently. In October of 2010 he won the heavyweight title, but a shoulder injury kept him sidelined for over a year. When he came back he had barely broken a sweat before Dos Santos made him eat the mat. On paper he’s still one of the elite fighters in the division, but a lot can happen in the time that has passed since he last fought.
Velasquez was supposed to face Mir, but this is a much easier spot. Silva is new to the UFC. When we last saw him he was getting knocked out in a fight he had no business losing against Daniel Cormier in the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix. He’s big, slow, and outmatched.
Pick: Cain Velasquez
Stefan Struve (-130) vs. Lavar Johnson (even)
Johnson last fought May 5 — a knockout win over Pat Barry. He normally wouldn’t be coming back in just three weeks, but a late injury to Mark Hunt has called Johnson into action. That means that he has nothing to lose — a perfect excuse if he loses, and nothing but respect if he wins. That makes him dangerous.
Struve is a very tough opponent, though. He’s a decade younger than Johnson, measures in at just a hair under seven feet tall, and has won seven of his last nine.
Johnson will come out of the gate very strong, and he could win if he is able to get control. If Struve is still standing after about 90 seconds, though, then he should be able to win it all.
Pick: Stefan Struve
Roy Nelson (-210) vs. Dave Herman (+170)
Nelson, the winner of “The Ultimate Fighter 10,” is a big man. Let’s call it as it is — the guy is fat. That weight obviously impacts his stamina, but he is pretty good at putting that weight behind his fists.
Herman is vulnerable to those big punches. Last time out — a loss against Stefan Struve — he started strong, but he showed stamina issues as well as he powered down in the second round.
Nelson has faced better competition, he is a bigger puncher, and is a deserving favorite as a result.
Pick: Roy Nelson
Stipe Miocic (-160) vs. Shane del Rosario (+130)
These two up-and-coming fighters are unbeaten in 19 combined career fights. Only two have come in the UFC, though — both by Miocic.
There will definitely be fireworks in this one — only one of the 19 combined opponents have avoided a knockout.
I normally don’t like betting on guys who are making their debut, but I’ll make an exception here because del Rosario’s upside seems higher.
Pick: Shane del Rosario
On each UFC I invest $500 mythical dollars. It is typically on a parlay, and this time will be no exception. Sadly it’s a chalky card so the payout won’t be dramatic:
$500 parlay — Take Dos Santos, Velasquez, Nelson and Struve. Potential profit of $1479.
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