Tuesday, March 6, 2012 | 6:45 p.m.
The two most powerful strikers in the UFC have a date set for a showdown at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos (14-1 MMA, 8-0 UFC) will make his first title defense on May 26 in Las Vegas against top contender Alistair Overeem (36-11 MMA, 1-0 UFC) at UFC 146. The fight will headline the city’s annual Memorial Day weekend fight card, the UFC officially announced Tuesday afternoon.
Dos Santos rose to the top of the UFC because of his unrivaled proficiency in boxing. Overeem, on the other hand, is the heavyweight division’s best kickboxer. He previously held titles in K-1 and Strikeforce before signing with the UFC last year.
Both fighters showed off their strengths with resounding victories at the end of last year. Dos Santos knocked out Cain Velasquez in the UFC’s first fight on Fox with a right hand 64 seconds into the bout. Alistair Overeem threw a blistering liver kick that resulted in a TKO victory over Brock Lesnar at 2:26 of the first round in the UFC 141 main event.
Sports books currently list dos Santos as a favorite at minus 170 (risking $1.70 with $1), with Overeem coming back at plus 140.
The UFC has revealed a handful of other contests for UFC 146, including a lightweight bout between Las Vegas-based Evan Dunham (13-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) and surging prospect Edson Barboza (10-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) that will likely make the pay-per-view broadcast.
A welterweight slugfest between Dan Hardy (23-10 MMA, 4-4 UFC) and Duane Ludwig (21-12 MMA, 4-3 UFC) is planned, along with the return of "The Ultimate Fighter" 14 winner Diego Brandao (14-7 MMA, 1-0 UFC). Brandao meets Darren Elkins (13-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) in featherweight action.
An announcement regarding ticket information is expected for next week.