The injury plague has struck again: its target this time being UFC 146. While the main card will still feature a stellar roster of all heavyweight match-ups, a lot of reshuffles and changes has left a lot of fans scratching their heads about who will fight who and whether or not we have seen the end to this crazy injury madness. Here is what you can expect to see come on May 26 at UFC 146.
The heavyweight championship title bout will now be between current reigning champion Junior “Cigano” dos Santos and eager for a title opportunity, Frank Mir. We first got wind of the change in opponent on an episode of The Ultimate Fighter: Live, the night before UFC 145, when UFC president Dana White took to twitter and announced, “May 26th is now Mir vs JDS for the HW title in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand.”
The final decision to make two-time former UFC heavyweight champ Mir switch over to the main event came after dos Santos’ original opponent, Alistair Overeem was forced to withdraw due to a failed drug test which placed his fighting license in limbo. Overeem was denied a license by the Nevada State Athletic Commission at his hearing on April 24 and may not reapply until Dec. 27 of this year.
Mir was bumped up but his original opponent was to be Cain Velasquez in the co-main event of the evening. Now Velasquez is slated to fight against UFC newcomer, Strikeforce superstar, and former EliteXC heavyweight champion Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva.
Silva was reshuffled from his original bout against opponent Roy “Big Country” Nelson, who is now scheduled to fight against Dave Herman. If Silva thought he would get an easy fight for his UFC debut, he was sadly mistaken.
This should be an all-out slug fest of a fight, so make sure to keep your eyes wide open for this one. It will also be a good challenge for Silva to see if he can stand up against one-of-the-best UFC fighters.
It would seem top heavyweight contender Roy Nelson got the short end of the reshuffling stick for this event. After his original opponent, Silva was chosen to face Velasquez, Nelson was then slated to fight Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga, who was originally scheduled to fight Shane del Rosario but further shuffling occurred and Gonzaga was bumped up to face Nelson. Unfortunately, Nelson vs Gonzaga will be a no-go fight as “Napao” suffered an injury that will sideline him from the fight card altogether.
Enter Nelson’s new opponent, heavy-handed striker Dave Herman. The last time we saw Herman was when he lost to Stefan Struve who is also featured on the card, in the only fight that did not undergo major shuffles or changes. Herman has 15 career knockouts and managed to put John-Olay Einemo away via TKO (punches) in the second round at UFC 131.
Shane del Rosario (11-0), Gonzaga’s original main card opponent, will now fight fellow undefeated heavyweight Stipe Miocic who is currently (8-0). Miocic is coming off two huge wins over Phil De Fries and a decision victory at his promotional debut against Joey Beltran. It will be interesting to see what he can do against Rosario who is unstoppable right now.
The first bout of the main card will feature Stefan Struve vs Mark Hunt which is the only fight to have stayed as originally announced for UFC 146. Struve is currently on a two-fight winning streak with victories over Pat Barry at UFC Live 6 and Dave Herman at UFC on Fuel. Beltran is on a three-bout winning streak against challengers such as Chris Tuchscherer, Ben Rothwell, and Cheick Kongo.
The undercard too will feature some interesting match-ups as well and has also undergone some changes. Lightweight contender Evan Dunham was originally slated to meet Edson Barboza, in a much-anticipated bout. An injury to Dunham meant that the UFC had to find a new opponent for Barboza. The hole left an opening for the return of former WEC champ Jamie Varner. Barboza is currently 10-0 with huge victories over Ross Pearson and Terry Etim and seems to be climbing the lightweight contender ladder quickly. A win over Varner will only help shine more light on the Brazilian for a title shot match-up.
Also featured on the preliminary card is an exciting middleweight match-up between “The Ultimate Fighter” runner-up C.B. “The Doberman” Dollaway and former “TUF” coach Jason “Mayhem” Miller.
Despite all the changes, it can easily be argued the now final match-ups are even more intriguing than any of the original bouts. Though not easily seen at first, dos Santos versus Mir will be an all out war and perhaps we may see a new champion be crowned. The fact that this is a first time all heavyweight main card event easily shows the level of talent present in this division. That in itself is very exciting. It will definitely give a more definitive heavyweight picture and will surely determine a next title shot contender.