The UFC will return to the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 26 to host UFC 146 in Las Vegas. This particular card is unique though, since the main card features nothing but heavyweight bouts.

Headlining the night is Junior dos Santos, who will be defending his UFC heavyweight title against the dangerous submission specialist Frank Mir. This will be the first title defense for JDS since gaining the belt from Cain Velasquez. Many feel you are not the true champion until you defend your belt, and JDS will be looking to secure his reign against the former champion, Mir.

While JDS and Mir will top off the heavyweight card, the rest of the match-ups are great as well. In the co-main event, former champ Cain Velasquez will face off against Antonio Silva. Also, Roy Nelson will square off against Dave Herman, Stipe Miocic will face Shane Del Rosario, and Stefan Struve will go toe-to-toe with Lavar Johnson.

UFC 146 will begin with Facebook prelims at 6:45 p.m. ET, followed by prelims on FX at 8 p.m. ET. The pay-per-view broadcast will then begin at 10 p.m. ET.

The MMA Corner’s panel of Gregory Chase, Sal DeRose and Paige Berger will break down the five main card bouts in this edition of the Round Table.

HW: Lavar Johnson (17-5) vs. Stefan Struve (23-5)

DeRose: Lavar Johnson gets a huge opportunity here to jump up high in the heavyweight rankings in a very winnable fight against Stefan Struve.

Lavar Johnson (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

Johnson is coming off a win over Pat Barry that saw him batter around the much smaller Barry into submission to earn the TKO victory. Johnson’s striking is good and really, really deadly. It’s something you can’t sleep on at all.

Johnson’s knockout power makes this a dangerous fight for Struve if Struve decides to use his reach to try and keep Johnson at bay.

Struve’s got the ground game though to beat Johnson and should try to win the fight utilizing his jiu-jitsu.

All in all, I don’t think Struve has lived up to the potential he came in with and always struggles when he faces top competition, which is what I think Johnson is—and will become in the eyes of fans after his win over Struve. Johnson by knockout in the first round.

Berger: I know many were excited to see Mark Hunt inch closer to a title shot with a victory over Struve in what was the original match-up. However, my excitement level went through the roof after it was announced Johnson would be replacing Hunt. How could it not after his knockout of Barry a couple weeks ago?

Johnson’s hands are lethal and Struve has been knocked out four times. As Sal mentioned, his ground game leaves a lot to be desired though. Johnson has even admitted that he hasn’t utilized his AKA teammates with stellar wrestling pedigrees like he should. I think this, along with Struve’s enormous size, leaves an opening for Struve.

The 6-foot-11 Dutchman has faced off with some very formidable foes, however he’s come out on the short end of the stick in most of those match-ups. He is on a two-fight winning streak after suffering a vicious KO at the fist of Travis Browne, and his ground game is on a completely different level than his opponent with 15 submission victories.

Stefan Struve (L) (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

This is a tough one for me to call, as both men have the tools to win the fight. Johnson just fought and should still be in great shape and fresh, as he made quick work of Barry. I agree with Sal though and think it will be Johnson inching his way up the heavyweight ladder with a KO victory.

Chase: Like Paige, I was looking very much forward to this fight when it was originally Mark Hunt, but am still excited to see Johnson step up here. I agree with Sal that Johnson’s power will be very dangerous for Struve in this one.

Struve, however, is not one to be overlooked. While he may not carry the heavy hands of Johnson, he has the reach and the submission game to be dangerous if this fight goes to the ground. Johnson has shown dominance in close quarters, but we haven’t seen him on the ground in the Octagon. It is worthy to note that out of the five losses Johnson has taken, four have been from submissions. Struve carries 15 subs out of 23 victories, as Paige was saying before.

I have to go with Johnson for this one. I think his strength will help him stay on his feet, and he will be the one to put the pressure on. He will unload on Struve and we will see the “Skyscraper” fall. Johnson wins by KO in the first or second round.

HW: Shane Del Rosario (11-0) vs. Stipe Miocic (8-0)

Berger: Barring the dreaded draw, one of these two men will walk away from this fight with their first career loss.

Miocic is taking the fight on somewhat short notice as part of the Overeem domino. He made quick work of his last opponent, Philip De Fries, with a first-round knockout this past February, so he should be well rested. Although six of his victories have come by KO, he’s a NCAA Division I wrestler and likely won’t want to stand with the likes of Del Rosario.

Del Rosario is a two-time WBC Muay Thai World Champion and in addition to his 11-0 MMA record, he has a 8-1 kickboxing record with all eight wins coming via KO. The point is, he’s a stud on his feet. He’s even submitted Lavar Johnson, so he can finish the fight wherever it may go.

I think this fight will depend on Del Rosario’s takedown defense. If he can stuff Miocic’s takedown attempts, I think he’ll walk away with another knockout victory.

Chase: Have to side with Del Rosario on this one. The momentum he brings from an undefeated 11-0 career and the well-roundedness of his game is going to be tough for Miocic to deal with. Del Rosario has never been to a decision.

I expect this fight to end in a great finish. Both men are undefeated, but Del Rosario has the ground game as well. Miocic carries danger in his hands—and every fight starts standing—but I expect Del Rosario to get the better of his exchanges.

Stipe Miocic (top) (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

The only issue with Del Rosario is how he will mentally be prepared for his fight. While having the skills and the momentum behind him, he still has never fought inside the Octagon. While not a proven factor, the UFC debut curse seems to plague many fighters who are expected to do well and then fail to deliver in their first UFC fight. As long as Del Rosario doesn’t let the big lights, stage and crowd get to him, he should walk away will a finish.

DeRose: Like previously mentioned, Del Rosario is a striking wizard and will do all that is necessary to keep this fight on the feet.

Miocic, on the other hand, will look to take the fight to the ground and work some oh-so-sweet ground-and-pound to finish off Del Rosario. I think Miocic can get the fight to the ground. Miocic is good on the feet as well, and I’m sure he has been drilling that to give him somewhat of a chance to make the standing even somewhat close to even.

This is a battle of two heavyweight studs who are being groomed as the next top-tier talent in a somewhat lackluster heavyweight division. I’ll go against the grain though and pick Miocic to get the win.

HW: Dave Herman (21-3) vs. Roy Nelson (16-7)

Chase: This fight is very intriguing to me since it is always interesting to see how opponents will do with the frustration of Roy Nelson’s chin. If one thing can be said about Nelson other than his weight, it’s his ability to take a punch.

Roy Nelson (James Law/Heavy MMA)

Both men are coming off of losses, and both want to regain their forward momentum toward a title shot. Dave Herman has very good hands, as does Nelson, but it’s hard to see Nelson going to sleep before Herman does. Nelson may look sloppy at times, but he certainly brings everything into the cage with him and puts it on the line. After watching the punishment Nelson took from Fabricio Werdum at UFC 143, I would have to side with Nelson taking home a victory against Herman.

If Nelson loses this fight, it will probably be by another decision, since he has shown his resilience in his fights. The question for me is how Nelson will come into this fight physically. He has been experimenting with his weight and his cardio has looked very questionable at times, but I expect a good fight from him.

At the end of the night, I will say Nelson wins via KO, or loses a decision.

DeRose: Herman finally gets back in the cage, and he doesn’t get an easy first fight back.

Nelson is a tough, tough fighter and has a very good ground game to boot. His striking is good as well, and all that together poses a huge problem for Herman.

Herman isn’t an amateur on the ground, but he isn’t anywhere near the level of Nelson. Here, Herman will try to keep the fight standing and attempt to knockout Nelson.

Knocking out Nelson is a lot easier said than done, so if Herman does keep the fight standing he will have to fight for the decision victory as I don’t think he’ll win the fight by a finish.

Nelson can try to outpoint Herman, but his gameplan should be to take down Herman and get into the crucifix position he loves so much. When there, he’ll have to look for submissions or try to ground-and-pound his way to victory.

Like Chase mentioned, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of shape Nelson comes into the fight with as he has gradually lost more and more of that belly that made him famous.

Dave Herman (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

I think Nelson will get the victory, but it will be the only fight on the main card that goes to decision. Nelson gets a unanimous decision victory.

Berger: In a division that doesn’t seem to go to decision very often, Nelson seems to have a knack for taking fights there. That’s undoubtedly due to his aforementioned ability to take punishment. Often times he’s zombie-like out there—just when you think you’ve finished him, he comes back for more.

Herman, however, has only gone to decision once in his career and has 15 KO’s to his credit. He will also have a size advantage over “Big Country” that he should be able to use to keep the distance and not allow Nelson to get inside. Herman fights out of Team Quest, so his wrestling should be on point, allowing him to stop the takedown and keep the fight standing, where he’s most comfortable.

I don’t see either man getting finished here, so I will take Herman by way of decision.

HW: Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (16-3) vs. Cain Velasquez (9-1)

Berger: Although I feel this fight is a major mismatch, it is a huge fight for Velasquez. The former champ is coming off the first loss of his career, as well as coming off a knee injury suffered preparing for dos Santos. Silva had a lot of hype behind him after beating Fedor Emelianenko, but I don’t feel that hype was necessarily justified.

Antonio Silva (Esther Lin/Strikeforce)

Silva is making his promotional debut and was promoted to the co-main event after Mir got moved up to the main event. In his most recent fight, he was knocked out in the first round by his opponent’s AKA teammate and Strikeforce Grand Prix champ Daniel Cormier. Talk about being thrown straight to the wolves right away. Before losing to Cormier, Silva was on a three-fight winning streak, defeating Emelianenko and Andrei Arlovski as well as Mike Kyle.

Velasquez will be fighting for only the third time in 19 months, in part due to two major injuries—he had shoulder surgery after his fight with Lesnar and, as I mentioned before, a knee injury prior to his bout with dos Santos. His wrestling and cardio is unrivaled in the UFC’s heavyweight division, and he will likely try to take the fight to the ground and utilize his ground-and-pound.

Considering that Velasquez is more talented and experienced than Cormier, I’d expect the same fate for Silva in this one. Velasquez will easily earn another title shot with a TKO victory over the Brazilian.

DeRose: I also think this is a mismatch, especially considering a less talented striker in Cormier knocked out Silva so I can only imagine what his teammate, Velasquez, can do.

Like Paige said, it’s a huge fight for the former UFC heavyweight champion as he is pretty much in the driver seat to get the next title shot at Junior dos Santos to earn back his belt.

Velasquez has a good ground game which is mixed with lethal striking that will give Silva problems. I think as long as he stays on top on the ground or keeps the fight standing, Velasquez has the edge in this fight by far.

Silva is making his promotional debut after a run in Strikeforce, and it pretty much killed most of the hype surrounding him after Cormier beat him.

Silva’s not going to win the fight standing, and his only chance is to pretty much use his size to smother Velasquez on the ground, which I honestly don’t see happening.

Cain Velasquez (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

Here, I think Velasquez is too talented and too far ahead of Silva to lose this fight, and if he does, it will be due to him making a huge mistake. Barring a huge mistake, Velasquez takes the fight by TKO in the second and gets a second shot at Junior dos Santos.

Chase: Paige and Sal have covered a lot of it. Silva might have been riding a hype-train, but still is very game against Velasquez. His size and hands pose an issue, but I agree with my fellow panelists that Velasquez is the more elite striker. This is not a gimme fight by any means in my book, but one that I see Velasquez walking away from with a good finish.

Velasquez’s cardio is something that will be a factor as always, and I think his wrestling will be an interesting tactic versus “Bigfoot.” Even though Velasquez is coming off a loss, I expect him to be focused and very eager to regain his position at the top of the division. While “Bigfoot” has a puncher’s chance, I see Velasquez winning this one by KO/TKO.

HW Championship: Junior dos Santos (14-1) vs. Frank Mir (16-5)

DeRose: People are looking at this fight seeing a huge mismatch, but honestly I don’t view it as one at all. This fight is equally dangerous for both fighters.

Frank Mir (James Law/Heavy MMA)

Junior dos Santos will obviously look to keep this fight standing after he knocked out Cain Velasquez to win the belt and has made a name on his amazing boxing talents. JDS does have the best boxing in the heavyweight division and probably all of MMA, which will give Mir fits.

On the ground, JDS is a brown belt in jiu-jitsu under the Nogueiras, but we saw what Mir did to a Nogueira in his last fight. JDS hasn’t gone to the ground often enough to show his skills, so his ground game is wildly unproven.

Mir’s chance here is to take the fight to the ground as standing he won’t be able to hang with JDS. Mir stood and traded with “Big Nog,” but JDS is a different breed of MMA boxer. If Mir takes the fight to the ground, he will have to look for constant submissions and try to keep control of JDS.

It’s the classic striker versus grappler match-up, and most of the time I lean towards the grappler, but here I’m leaning towards the striker. JDS is simply too good, in his prime and talented all over. JDS will get the third-round knockout.

Chase: This is one that I am excited for, even though I was looking forward to Overeem’s striking versus JDS’. They say styles make fights, and this is a bout between arguably the best heavyweight striker and arguably the best heavyweight submission artist. The position of this fight is what will determine the outcome. If it stays on the feet, JDS remains the champion. If it goes to the ground, we are looking at Mir getting a belt around his waist once again.

This is not to say they aren’t dangerous in their non-specialty areas, but it would just seem to lean that way. JDS does have BJJ, but it is his boxing that will make the difference here. Frank Mir does have striking, but his ground game is dangerous even to BJJ experts.

Junior dos Santos (James Law/Heavy MMA)

At the end of the night, I see JDS walking away with a KO/TKO win early on. I see Mir losing in the same fashion as he did to Shane Carwin or Brock Lesnar, and being beaten and bruised.

Berger: As Chase pointed out, this is a battle of the best in the division. JDS is the best striker in the division and Mir has arguably the best ground game in heavyweight history. Therefore, I don’t think this is a mismatch at all, and could potentially be more intense than the original match-up between JDS and Overeem.

Mir’s cardio has been questioned before, and should this bout make it to the championship rounds I think that could be a determining factor. He gassed in last year’s Memorial Day match-up with Roy Nelson, but then only needed one round to defeat “Big Nog.” He also has a suspect chin, as all five of his losses have come by KO.

The current champ has been nothing short of impressive in 15-fight pro career. He’s unbeaten in his eight Octagon appearances, only going to decision twice. His lone loss as a pro did come via armbar, but at the end of the day his ground game really hasn’t been tested at this level, so we don’t really know how good it may be.

The champ will have redemption for his mentor on his mind and victory in his heart. That’s a lethal combo. With Mir’s questionable cardio and chin, I think the belt will stay around the waist of the Brazilian. JDS by KO in the second.

Top Photo: Junior dos Santos (Rob Tatum/The MMA Corner)

About The Author

Gregory Chase
Staff Writer

Gregory Chase is an MMA enthusiast and aficionado. He is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report (MMA), a Featured Columnist at Sports-at-Work, a Contributor for The MMA Corner, and is the Connecticut MMA Examiner for Chase also trains in MMA, focusing on a mixture of striking disciplines, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He writes to promote thought, give perspective and provide a coherent analysis on topics, while maintaining a smooth read and educating/entertaining. He lives by his motto of “MMA: Live it. Breathe it.”