Bigger is better.
The heavyweights are coming to town this upcoming Saturday night (May 26, 2012) for the UFC 146: "Dos Santos vs. Mir" event that is scheduled for the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Leading the way is champion Junior dos Santos, who will defend his title for the first time ever against former strap hanger Frank Mir. In addition, former champ Cain Velasquez will return to action for the first time since losing his belt against the debuting Antonio Silva. Other action on the main card will see Dave Herman take on wrecking ball Roy Nelson and Strikeforce import Lavar Johnson looking to continue his incredible run against "The Skyscraper," Stefan Struve.
We've got seven "Prelims" under card fights to whet our appetites before the main card on pay-per-view (PPV), however, with three of them broadcast through the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Facebook page.
Check out part one of our UFC 146 "Prelims" breakdown after the jump:
145 lbs.: Mike Brown vs. Daniel Pineda
Mike Brown (25-8) was on top of the featherweight world before catching a bad case of Jose Aldo, snapping a 10-fight winning streak stretching from 2004 to 2009. Since the nasty beatdown at the hands of the Brazilian buzzsaw, Brown has gone 3-3, dropping decisions to Diego Nunes and Rani Yahya after getting pasted by Manny Gamburyan.
With Urijah Faber now at 135 pounds, Brown could be the final member of the 145-pound "old guard," but he'll need a solid performance this Saturday if he wants to avoid fading away like the rest.
For lack of a better description, Daniel Pineda (17-7) fights like he's double-parked and one ticket away from losing his license. In two UFC bouts, "The Pit" has spent a total of 3:43 administering high-octane ass whoopings. Most recently, he crumpled the notoriously sturdy Mackens Semerzier with punches before locking on a beautiful triangle armbar.
Should Pineda extend his impressive streak to eight, the Featherweight elite may have to make room for a new entrant.
Maybe I'm just a nostalgic sap, but I like "MTB's" chances here. Pineda doesn't have the takedown-nullifying Brazilian jiu-jitsu of Rani Yahya, nor the takedown defense of Diego Nunes. He's an entertaining, well-rounded fighter, but he hasn't demonstrated the tools that have historically given Brown headaches.
I'll readily admit that Pineda has looked like a million bucks in his two appearances inside the Octagon, and that Brown hasn't had much consistency since the Aldo beating. But, I just get the sense that Brown's still got enough in him to put down one more young lion.
Brown wrestles him down early and locks up an arm-triangle for the victory.
Prediction: Brown via first-round submission
205 lbs.: Glover Teixeira vs. Kyle Kingsbury
A training partner of the venerable Chuck Liddell, Glover Teixeira (17-2) has long been one of Brazil's best kept secrets, quietly racking up 15 straight victories (with 14 stoppages) in what seemed like a fruitless quest to make it into the UFC. Luckily for the fans, however, he finally made it to the big time this year. Combining scary power with ADCC-caliber grappling, Teixeira is a nightmare no matter where the fight goes, and will look to bring back memories of his teammate's legendary rampage through the 205-pound division.
After wowing audiences with his resilience in his "Fight of the Night" performance against Fabio Maldonado, Kyle Kingsbury's (11-3) solid four-fight win streak in the UFC came to a grinding halt at UFC 139 when Stephan Bonnar had his way with him on the ground. The hardy American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) product can get right back in the mix, however, if he can spoil Teixeira's highly-anticipated debut.
I've been doing my best to be a little less fanatical about Brazilian prospects lately, but I really can't picture anything but rough going for Kingsbury. Frankly, Teixeira is more than capable of doing everything Bonnar did and then some. He has significant knockout power in his fists and, considering his consistent placement in the Brazilian ADCC trials, it's probably not in "Kingsbu's" best interest to play around on the ground.
Whether it be by sweeping Kingsbury from the bottom and unloading ground-and-pound or simply thumping him on his feet, there aren't many plausible scenarios that don't involve Kingsbury's face getting the Rocky Dennis treatment. Welcome to the big time, Glover.
Prediction: Teixeira via first-round technical knockout
155 lbs.: Paul Sass vs. Jacob Volkmann
Scoffing at the idea that Brits have poor ground games, Paul Sass (12-0) has secured submissions in 11 of his 12 victories, all but one of those coming in the first round. Sass has been nothing, but impressive during his UFC tenure, submitting Mark Holst and Michael Johnson in short order. With seven victories by his signature triangle, it's a safe bet that Volkmann is going to take the fight right where Sass wants it; we'll see if he can capitalize.
After two straight decisive defeats at welterweight, Jacob Volkmann (14-2) made the drop to 155-pounds and hasn't looked back, winning five straight over the likes of Ronys Torres and Antonio McKee. Despite this success, "Christmas" caught flak for his inability to finish foes, instead using his stifling wrestling to grind them out, but if he keeps up this pace, he can only be denied a crack at the elite for so long.
Sass is a refreshing sight in the upper echelon of MMA: someone with both the ability and willingness to successfully pull guard. The problem is that Volkmann simply isn't the kind of fighter to mess around in Sass's guard until he gets caught in a triangle. He'll take Sass down and he'll do it frequently, but he's handled solid BJJ players before and has the grappling know how to stay out of danger. Further, Sass doesn't have the takedowns to wind up on top, nor the striking to put Volkmann down before getting tied up.
There's always a chance that "Christmas" gets careless and Sass gets his legs around Volkmann's neck, but Volkmann's top control just strikes me as too sturdy for that to happen with any regularity. It won't be pretty and it may not get Volkmann off the prelims, but things will end poorly for Sass.
Prediction: Volkmann via unanimous decision
See you then!
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE blow-by-blow, round-by-round coverage of UFC 146, beginning with the "Prelims" bouts on Facebook scheduled for around 6 p.m. ET. In addition, we will also provide LIVE, real-time results of the main card action as it happens throughout the evening this upcoming Saturday night.