I spent the better part of the day and night Saturday at MGM Grand shooting UFC 146: Dos Santos v Mir for UFC and Getty Images. There was a lot of hype behind this historic card, being the first time in the modern UFC era that a main card had consisted entirely of heavyweights. And when it was all said and done, the card lived up to the hype, and then some.
Despite the emphasis in marketing the heavyweight fights on the card, there were several really good undercard fights, as well. Longtime UFC hopeful Glover Teixeira made his debut, putting away Kyle Kingsbury very quickly in dominating fashion. Paul Sass pulled out yet another triangle choke submission against Jacob Volkmann. Late replacement Jamie Varner finished the previously unbeaten Edson Barboza.
The main card kicked off with the tallest fighter in the UFC, Stefan Struve, jumping guard on two-time KO of the Night winner Lavar Johnson and quickly arm barring him. This earned Struve another Submission of the Night bonus and pushed him another step up the ladder in the heavyweight division. Next up was a battle of two unbeatens, as 8-0 Stipe Miocic battled 11-0 Shane Del Rosario. Del Rosario looked good in the early goings, landing a lot of kicks. The first time Octagon jitters didn’t seem to bother him. As the fight drew on, though, Miocic began to land strikes of his own before getting the fight to the ground where he ended it with some brutal elbows.
In the third heavyweight feature bout, Roy “Big Country” Nelson made quick work of Dave Herman with a brutal overhand right, sending Herman crashing to the canvas and earning Nelson another Knockout of the Night bonus. That bout was followed up by Cain Velasquez quickly TKO’ing Antonio “Big Foot” Silva in one of the bloodiest fights I’ve ever witnessed. Cain split “Big Foot” open early in round one and jumped on him like a lion on a gazelle. Referee Josh Rosenthal finally halted the bout a couple minutes later after “Big Foot” could not see through all the blood.
Finally, the main event saw Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos trying to do what previous champion Cain Velasquez was not able to do, successfully defend his title. Dos Santos’ original opponent, Alistair Overeem was removed from the card after a pre-fight drug screening denied him a license for the fight. Frank Mir stepped in on about 6 weeks notice to take the fight, and looked to pose an interesting challenge to the champion. As the fight unfolded though, the champ took control. A barrage at the end of the first round nearly ended the fight, but it would come just a couple minutes later in the second round when Dos Santos floored Mir with a straight right and followed up with some crashing hammer fists on the ground. The champ scored another highlight reel KO, and I nailed the shot!
I had a great time shooting the fights again and catching up with friends and colleagues, including Donald Miralle, Rod Mar, James Law, Esther Lin, and Paul Thatcher. I encourage you to check out their shots from the night, as well.