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UFC 146: A look at the reshuffling caused by Alistair Overeem’s ouster

Frank Mir fights in fifth career UFC title match

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Sam Morris

Jimmy “Giff” Gifford tapes up Frank Mir’s hands before a workout as he prepares for an upcoming fight against Roy Nelson at UFC 130 Thursday, May 19, 2011.

UFC 146 News Conference

Junior Dos Santos, left, and Alistair Overeem pose for photos during a news conference Tuesday, March 27, 2012 to advance the all heavyweight card at UFC 146. Launch slideshow »

Asked which fighter on the upcoming Memorial Day weekend card at MGM Grand Garden Arena had the most to lose, UFC President Dana White came to a resolute conclusion.

“I’d probably have to say (Frank) Mir,” White said after a recent press conference. “Mir’s been in so many title fights and held it twice.”

Mir, the 32-year-old local, fights in a heavyweight championship bout for the fifth time in his career in the main event of UFC 146 on May 26. Mir (16-5 MMA, 14-5 UFC) faces Junior dos Santos (14-1 MMA, 8-0 UFC), filling the vacancy left by Alistair Overeem when the Nevada State Athletic Commission refused to issue him a license.

Overeem’s failed drug test shook up more than the headlining bout. Three of the other fights slated for the pay-per-view card were also re-arranged.

Mir, who lost to Shane Carwin and Brock Lesnar in his most recent attempts to win UFC gold, was originally supposed to fight former champion Cain Velasquez (9-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) in the evening’s co-main event. Strikeforce import Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (16-3 MMA, 0-0 UFC) now moves up the billing to challenge Velasquez, which momentarily left Las Vegas native Roy Nelson (16-7 MMA, 3-3 UFC) without an opponent.

Dave Herman (22-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC) will now slide in against Nelson.

“Losing wouldn’t be too great for Big Country either,” White added.

Nelson has gone 1-3 in his past four bouts. Losses are something foreign altogether to the two fighters who precede Nelson’s contest at UFC 146.

Undefeated prospects Shane del Rosario (11-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and Stipe Miocic (8-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) create a matchup between two of the top up-and-coming heavyweights.

The only bout that remains undisturbed from its original form is the main card opener between Mark Hunt (8-7 MMA, 3-1 UFC) and Stefan Struve (23-5 MMA, 7-3 UFC). Despite the upheaval, the novelty of an all-heavyweight main card is expected to make UFC 146 a success.

“You could be the baddest dude at 135 pounds or 145 or 155, but I think a lot of people, when they’re watching the fights, in the back of their minds are thinking, ‘But I’m 220. Even though he can fight, I could probably kick his (butt),” Mir said. “We’re the heavyweight division. If you think that, you’re stupid.”

Check below for a rundown of the preliminary card at UFC 146.

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Featherweight fighter Diego Brandao celebrates after defeating Dennis Bermudez at the TUF 14 Finale in the Palms December 3, 2011.

Featherweight bout: Diego Brandao (14-7 MMA, 1-0 UFC) vs. Darren Elkins (13-2 MMA, 3-1 UFC) “The Ultimate Fighter” 14 winner, Brandao, returns looking to win his fifth bout in a row against a strong wrestler and former lightweight in Elkins.

Lightweight bout: Edson Barboza (10-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) vs. Jamie Varner (19-6-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC) Yet another promising bout fell apart when local fighter Evan Dunham suffered an injury and had to pull out of a showdown with the surging Barboza. Dunham is replaced with Varner, a former WEC champion who last fought in the UFC five years ago.

Middleweight bout: Jason Miller (23-8 MMA, 0-2 UFC) vs. C.B. Dollaway (11-4 MMA, 5-4 UFC) A must-win for both 185-pound fighters, as White was critical of Miller’s performance against Michael Bisping at “The Ultimate Fighter” 14 finale and Dollaway has lost two straight.

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Duane Ludwig fights Josh Neer at UFC on FX 1 in Nashville, Tenn., on Jan. 21, 2012. Ludwig lost the fight by first-round submission.

Lightweight bout: Jacob Volkmann (13-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) vs. Paul Sass (12-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) The unbeaten British submission artist encounters Volkmann, who is unbeaten since dropping to 155 pounds two years ago.

Welterweight bout: Dan Hardy (23-10 MMA, 4-4 UFC) vs. Duane Ludwig (21-12 MMA, 4-3 UFC) It’s rare to find one of the most anticipated bouts of an event this low, but fans are eager to see Hardy and Ludwig engage in an expected slugfest.

Light heavyweight bout: Kyle Kingsbury (11-3 MMA, 4-2 UFC) vs. Glover Teixeira (17-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) “Kingsbu” looks to bounce back from his first loss since 2008, a unanimous decision defeat to Stephan Bonnar at UFC 139, against the highly touted Brazilian who’s won 15 in a row.

Featherweight bout: Mike Brown (25-8 MMA, 1-3 UFC) vs. Daniel Pineda (17-7 MMA, 2-0 UFC) Pineda, who won his first two UFC bouts within 41 days this year, gets a jump in competition with the former WEC champion.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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