May 26, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Junior Dos Santos (left) connects with a punch on Frank Mir (right) during the UFC 146 at the MGM Grand Garden event center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
Last night's (May 26, 2012) UFC 146 event was a whirlwind blur of brutal knockouts and horror movie-levels of blood.
When all was said and done, Stefan Struve, Stipe Miocic, Roy Nelson, Cain Velasquez and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos all came up victorious, each in impressive fashion.
But despite all five men winning, there is a difference in their victories.
Struve securing a quick armbar over Lavar Johnson is not the same as the champion battering Frank Mir for the better part of two rounds. Miocic earning a second round technical knockout (TKO) over the undefeated -- but also untested -- Shane del Rosario isn't on par with Velasquez making a bloody mess of Antonio Silva.
The three winners in the opening bouts may have won but they're not ready for the likes of "Cigano" and Cain, the former champion who will likely challenge the Brazilian by year's end.
So what's to be done with these mid-tier heavyweights?
Dos Santos deserves worthy challengers, not gimme fights simply for the sake of keeping him busy. A fight against Roy Nelson, despite coming off a fantastic 51 second knockout over Dave Herman does nothing for the Brazilian.
Nelson is 2-3 in his last five fights and has already squared off against the champion. For 15 minutes, "Cigano" pounded the rotund American in a largely ho-hum affair. Impressive, sure, but one can watch a one-sided beating for so long.
Additionally, both Miocic and Struve aren't ready to take on the upper echelon of heavyweights.
The Croatian has impressed during his Octagon run but he's very much a work in progress and hotshotting him to a title fight could possibly derail his promising career. Struve's career trajectory looks more like a roller coaster than anything, complete with highs and lows.
Every time the lanky Dutchman builds some momentum -- as he did after securing two stoppage victories leading into UFC 130 -- "Skyscraper" would fail to capitalize. His two fight win streak was ended was ended by Travis Browne that night. He's riding a three-fight winning streak right now but can he maintain the momentum?
This isn't to take away from the victories each man earned last night. They all fought and they all won and that in itself is enough to be lauded.
But Mir and Silva are both top 10 heavyweights and the champ and former champ made them look like complete amateurs.
The Brazilian was made to look like an extra from a Saw movie more than a cagefighter and Las Vegas native put together little to no offense against "Cigano."
There's a completely and unavoidable disparity in the UFC heavyweight division's talent level.
At the top is the champion, Velasquez and possibly Fabricio Werdum. I suppose Alistair Overeem can be lumped into that group if he ever happens to fight inside the Octagon again.
The rest of the UFC 146 main card simply isn't ready to run with the big dogs.