This Saturday, the UFC makes its return to Canada as it takes over the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia for UFC 131: Dos Santos vs. Carwin.
This event was originally supposed to be a battle of TUF 13 coaches to determine a number one contender for Cain Velasquez and his Heavyweight Championship, but Brock Lesnar was forced to withdraw due to his diverticulitis resurfacing. Instead, former Interim Heavyweight Champion Shane Carwin will take his place.
As has been the case with the past few fight cards, every single fight will be shown via Facebook, Spike TV and, of course, PPV. Let’s take a look at the Main Card fights and break down each one.
To open up the PPV broadcast, we have a Lightweight bout between Donald “The Cowboy” Cerrone (1-3-1) and Vagner Rocha (6-1). Since losing to Ben Henderson in April of 2010, Cowboy has gone on a three-fight win streak that includes two second round submission victories. Rocha, who has had previous success in Bellator, is coming off a first round submission just one month ago. With Cowboy having the advantage in the stand up department, and Rocha being better on the ground, the fighter who can keep the fight in their preferred element may be the one that gets his hand raised in the end.
Up next is a battle between Demian Maia (14-2) and Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz (10-2) in the Middleweight Division. Both men are coming off back-to-back victories following big losses. In an attempt to get into the Middleweight title picture, both men are going to need to come out strong and put on an impressive performance. In Maia’s last two fights, he grinded out a decision against Mario Miranda and Kendall Grove. Munoz though is coming off a victory over C.B. Dollaway in which he knocked him out in just fifty-four seconds of the first round. Munoz, who has a background in wrestling, has stated that he has been working on his standup game in order to keep Maia, a dangerous BJJ Black Belt, from taking the fight to the ground. Although Maia has a boxing background in addition to his BJJ, he isn’t known for his striking, and usually looks to take his opponent to the ground and submit them. It’ll be interesting to see whether BJJ or wrestling will reign supreme in this battle of grapplers.
The third fight of the broadcast features the UFC debut, and MMA return of Heavyweight Jon Olav Einemo (6-1) and the UFC debut of Dave “Pee-Wee” Herman (20-2). Shane Carwin was set to be Einemo’s original opponent, but after Brock Lesnar was removed from the fight with Dos Santos, Carwin replaced him and Herman replaced Carwin. Einemo, whose only loss came at the hands of Fabricio Werdum, has been absent from the MMA scene for nearly five years. He is a deadly BJJ Black Belt and the only man to defeat Roger Gracie in a ADCC tournament. Herman, who has never been submitted in his career, is going to have his hands full for sure. Owner of fourteen knockout victories, Herman is going to look to keep it standing an avoid going to the ground with Einemo at all costs. In an already stacked Heavyweight division, the winner of this bout could very well jump right in the mix and stir things up.
The Co-Main Event of the evening is the Featherweight debut of Kenny “KenFlo” Florian (14-5) as he faces off against Diego “The Gun” Nunes (16-1). Losing to Gray Maynard in a Number One Contender’s bout prompted KenFlo to drop down to 145, his fourth weight class, and make a run at the title. Standing in his way is the man who upset former champion Mike Brown in January. As we saw in his last fight, Nunes is a tough competitor who doesn’t go down easy; he can take punches and keep coming forward. The last time KenFlo fought somebody who was a good striker (BJ Penn), he didn’t fair too well. He’s going to need to set up his shots and avoid the kicks of Nunes if he wants to win this fight.
The Main Event of the night features TUF 13 coach Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos (12-1) against former Interim Heavyweight Champion Shane “The Engineer” Carwin (12-1). Shane and Junior are really a lot alike. The majority of their wins have come by way of KO/TKO, their lone loss is the result of a submission, they both have a grappling background but choose to stand and throw punches and, most importantly, they are gunning for the Heavyweight Championship. If there was ever a coin-flip fight, this would be it. With a similar heavy-handed stand-and-bang style and an ability to take the fight to the ground, this fight could be over in a matter of seconds. Whoever can reach out and land a solid punch first could be the man leaving Canada as the Number One Contender to Cain Velasquez’s Heavyweight Championship. The only thing that is certain is that you will not want to blink as soon as the bell rings because you might just miss it.
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