UFC 146: Heavyweight main card should pack a punch
In an ideal world, Sunday’s UFC 146 all-heavyweight main card will produce a symphony of violence – five explosive, entertaining scraps that end with a highlight reel finish in the cage, and the audience erupting in the seats.
But life is never ideal, which is what makes the UFC’s decision to stock Sunday’s main card full of heavyweights a risky one. It’s a calculated risk, and one that could certainly pay dividends, but a risk nonetheless.
While there is the potential for all five altercations to end in spectacular fashion, what happens if we get a collection of bouts that explode out of the gates, but stagger to the finish line as the two 240-plus-pound men in the cage struggle to make it to the final bell?
In any other division, the potential for a let down wouldn’t be worth rolling the dice.
A card full of fighters who compete south of 170-pounds would probably be entertaining and fast-paced, but in all likelihood, we’d be hearing from the judges fairly often.
But with heavyweights, the chances of getting an action-packed, explosive event are pretty good, at least according to the UFC’s track record so far in 2012.
Through the first five months of the year, there have been 12 fights in the UFC heavyweight division. Only two of them have made it to the scorecards: Fabricio Werdum’s win over Roy Nelson at UFC 143, and Mike Russow’s victory over Jon Olav Einemo on the January FOX show.
While Russow’s win over Einemo probably turned off a lot of people because it featured a great deal of grappling, Werdum-Nelson was all kinds of awesome.
If we got five of those on Saturday night, there would be no way to complain. People still would, mind you, but there really wouldn’t be any grounds for it.
Of the remaining ten heavyweight fights that have taken place this year, eight have ended in the first round.
Even with a number of changes, Sunday’s main card still features a collection of fighters capable of ending their bouts with one punch, and adding to the growing number of heavyweight contests that haven’t required the judges to decide the outcome.
Dave Herman, who became Roy Nelson’s third opponent for this card after “Bigfoot” Silva was promoted to fight Cain Velasquez, and Gabriel Gonzaga was forced out with an injury, has collected 15 of his 21 career wins by knockout, and two of his five submission wins were due to strikes as well.
Stipe Miocic heads into his short-notice pairing with Shane del Rosario off a 43-second knockout win over Phil De Fries in February, and Lavar “Big” Johnson, who is stepping in for Mark Hunt opposite Stefan Struve, collected his second consecutive first-round knockout win in the UFC earlier this month against Pat Barry.
Fights don’t always play out the way you think, but considering the combined finishing percentage of the 10 athletes taking part in the main card – 89.9% – 134 finishes in 149 fights – the chances of this turning into a long, boring night of lumbering heavyweights are slim.
When Frank Mir, who has earned 12 of his 16 career wins by either knockout or submission, has the lowest overall finishing percentage (75%) of everybody competing on the main card, I’d say the UFC is taking a pretty solid calculated risk in rolling out an all-heavyweight pay-per-view event this weekend.
Stranger things have happened, but don’t be surprised if this one is over quickly, and there are a lot of fighters in the running for Knockout of the Night.
Follow Spencer on Twitter: @spencerkyte