UFC 131 Main Fight Card Breakdowns: Shane Carwin Vs. Junior Dos Santos, Kenny Florian Vs. Diego Nunes, And More

A quick and dirty breakdown of every fight on the main PPV card of UFC 131: Shane Carwin vs. Junior dos Santos, Kenny Florian vs. Diego Nunes, Demian Maia vs. Mark Munoz, Donald Cerrone vs. Vagner Rocha, and Jon Olav Einemo vs. Dave Herman.

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UFC 131 Fight Card Breakdown: Shane Carwin vs Junior dos Santos

Heavyweights Shane Carwin and Junior dos Santos headline UFC 131 from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Originally dos Santos was slated to face former champ Brock Lesnar. The two coached the 13th season of The Ultimate Fighter opposite one another. But Lesnar's diverticulitis returned, forcing a surgery to remove a foot of large intestine and cancelling the bout. 

Shane Carwin, who'd been slated to welcome Jon Olav Einemo to the UFC, stepped up to face dos Santos. The fight is expected to determine the first challenger to heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez when he returns from rotator cuff surgery in the fall.

As befits a #1 contender's bout, Carwin vs dos Santos is too close to call. Both men have crushing knock out power and prefer to stand on their feet and use their fists to batter opponents into unconsciousness. Carwin has the most raw power but dos Santos is the better boxing technician.

Carwin, a former division 2 NCAA national champion wrestler, should be able to force the fight to the ground if he so chooses but dos Santos has proven very difficult to keep on the ground. If Carwin is able to take dos Santos down and apply the bludgeoning ground and pound that finished Frank Mir at UFC 111, dos Santos will be in deep trouble.

Dos Santos trains with the legendary Nogueira brothers so he should at least have a strong understanding of jiu jitsu, but we've never seen him forced to fight off his back and as a KO artist he hasn't shown any interest in going for take downs himself.

Carwin hasn't fought since losing his title shot to Brock Lesnar at UFC 116. He took time off to have neck and back surgery and has dramatically changed his training regimen to emphasize stamina rather than sheer muscle power after he faded horribly in the second round against Lesnar. At 36 years old it's an open question how well Carwin will have recovered from the surgery. It's also unknown how differently he'll fight after cutting 30 pounds of muscle in a quest for more staying power.

Given the number of unknowns -- dos Santos' ground game, Carwin's conditioning -- it's basically a coin toss. 

AspectCarwinPointsdos SantosAdvantage
Range Fighting



Boxing Crushing Skilled dos Santos
Kickboxing What's That? Kicking? dos Santos
Wrestling Excellent Defensive Carwin
Clinch Fighting        
Dirty Boxing Lethal 1 Mess You Up Carwin
Thai Clinch Good 1 Very Good dos Santos
Throws/Trips Very Good 1 Limited Carwin
 Ground Fighting



 Positional Control Very Good 1 Good Carwin
 Top Game Damaging 1 Good Carwin
 Bottom Game Hapless 1 Very Good? dos Santos
 Submissions Unseen 1 Good? dos Santos
Intangibles 36  1 Huntry dos Santos
Overall Contender 6/6 Contender ???

 

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UFC 131 Fight Card Breakdown: Kenny Florian vs Diego Nunes

Two-time UFC lightweight title challenger Kenny Florian makes his featherweight debut against tough Brazilian Diego Nunes. Florian lost a #1 contender's match to Gray Maynard last August and elected to drop down to featherweight after the loss. The 35 year old has compiled an impressive 11-4 UFC record since competing on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter in 2005.

Nunes is 1-0 in the UFC and 16-1 overall. He split a pair of fights in the WEC and won his UFC debut against former WEC champ Mike Brown at UFC 125. Nunes is known for his wild striking style that features lots of spinning kicks and punches, flying knees and kicks straight out of The Foot Fist Way.

Nunes will be giving up a good deal of height and reach to Florian, a Muay Thai specialist known for his punishing leg kicks, sharp boxing and slashing elbows. Florian's superior striking technique should combine with his significant grappling advantage to give him many ways to win. Nunes will want to keep it standing -- he's got a good guillotine choke but isn't Demian Maia on the ground or anything.

Unless Florian is sapped by the big weight cut or has suddenly begun to show his age, look for him to pick up a win tomorrow. 

AspectFlorianPointsNunesAdvantage
Range Fighting



Boxing Tight Wild Nunes
Kickboxing Hurtful Exotic Florian
Wrestling Good Ok Florian
Clinch Fighting        
Dirty Boxing Good 1 Good Tie
Thai Clinch Kneedy 1 Very Good Florian
Throws/Trips Good 1 Ok Florian
 Ground Fighting



 Positional Control Very Good 1 Good Florian
 Top Game Good 1 Ok Florian
 Bottom Game Good 1 Ok Florian
 Submissions Very Good 1 Guillotiney Florian
Intangibles Do or Die  1 Spoiler Nunes
Overall Contender 7/4 UFC Caliber? Florian

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UFC 131 Fight Card Breakdown: Demian Maia vs. Mark Munoz

Middleweights Demian Maia and Mark Munoz will meet at UFC 131 on Saturday, June 11 in Vancouver's Rogers Arena. The bout has clear title implications. Maia, who fought UFC champ Anderson Silva at UFC 112, is currently the #4 ranked middleweight in the world according to the USA TODAY/SBNation MMA Consensus Rankings. Munoz ranks #19.

Both fighters are riding two fight win streaks, with Maia coming off wins over Kendall Grove and Mario Miranda and Munoz having beaten C.B. Dollaway and Aaron Simpson.

Maia is one of the world's most accomplished Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitors, having won multiple world championships and ADCC titles. Unlike many of his peers however, Maia has been very successful in adapting his world-class submission game to MMA. This is partly because he has an extensive Judo background and has very cleverly integrated that sport's arsenal of trips and take downs into his attack. After being blasted by Nate Marquardt, Maia has emphasized his striking game by training with the legendary Wanderlei Silva.  

Munoz is a former NCAA division 1 national champion wrestler who has successfully combined his powerful double leg take downs with an awesomely powerful right hand to become one of the most dangerous ground and pound specialists in MMA today. Munoz has also steadily improved his straight boxing and scored a brutal KO on the feet against fellow wrestler Dollaway.

This fight is an extremely interesting match. Maia may be the more technically polished striker on the feet, but Munoz has much more punching power and a better chin. That means he'll likely be looking to sprawl and brawl to keep things standing and capitalize on his standing advantage. 

Maia has shown he can take down and submit elite wrestlers with a very sneaky arsenal of guard pulls, sweeps and Judo trips. If he can get Munoz on the ground a submission win is a very likely outcome. 

Ultimately I think this bout is so close that it will come down to will to win.

AspectMaiaPointsMunozAdvantage
Range Fighting



Boxing Improving Powerful Munoz
Kickboxing Improving Eh Maia
Wrestling Surprising 2 Excellent Munoz
Clinch Fighting        
Dirty Boxing Not so much 1 Dangerous Munoz
Thai Clinch Ok 1 Good Munoz
Throws/Trips Surprising 1 Very Good Tie
 Ground Fighting



 Positional Control Utter 1 Very Good Maia
 Top Game Smothering 1 Vicious Maia
 Bottom Game Deadly 1 Nah Maia
 Submissions Unparalleled 1 Unseen Maia
Intangibles Lost Title Shot Already 1 On His Way Munoz
Overall Topped Out 7/5 Rising Munoz

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UFC 131 Fight Card Breakdown: Dave Herman Vs. Jon Olav Einemo

Heavyweight UFC debutantes Dave Herman and Jon Olav Einemo were not originally scheduled to face each other at UFC 131. Einemo was supposed to fight former title challenger Shane Carwin. Herman, meanwhile, had initially been booked to face Rob Broughton, then Joey Beltran.

But cascading cancellations, starting with headlining former champ Brock Lesnar's diverticulitis that pulled him out of the headliner and pulled Carwin up to the top of the card, have paired these two very different UFC newbies. 

The 26 year old Herman, 20-2,  was once the hottest heavyweight prospect in the sport. He ran up a 15-0 record and fought on Showtime for the now defunct EliteXC promotion. Then he lost a pick up fight in Japan and got into contractual difficulties with Bellator who kept him in limbo for around 18 months.

He also picked up a reputation as an incredibly talented but incredibly undisciplined fighter who barely bothered to train and tried out moves for the first time in the cage. Now that he's training with Team Quest he's hopefully improved his conditioning, but fans will be very sad if "Pee Wee" no longer throws wild flying kicks five times a round. He's got a good collegiate wrestling base to build on and incredible athleticism for a big man.

The 35 year old Einemo is a very different fighter. For one thing he hasn't fought in five years after racking up a 6-1 record. Prior to his layoff, he had established a reputation as one of the division's few serious submission artists. He does train with Holland's vaunted Golden Glory gym -- alongside K-1 champs like Alistair Overeem and Semmy Schilt -- so it's entirely possible his striking has improved dramatically in the past five years. 

It's unlikely that the aging and rusty Einemo would be able to force Herman to the ground in a straight wrestling match, but in an MMA bout given Herman's wild, risk-taking style, Einemo has a slim chance at a take down. Keeping Herman down will be a next level of difficulty. 

Look for Herman to use his speed and diverse striking arsenal to beat Einemo early. In the old days if Herman didn't put his opponent away early he could get into trouble as his frat house conditioning became exposed. Hopefully a new camp and a new more serious attitude have fixed those problems. 

AspectHermanPointsEinemoAdvantage
Range Fighting



Boxing Wilding Improved? Herman
Kickboxing Unique Improved? Herman
Wrestling Very Good Decent Herman
Clinch Fighting        
Dirty Boxing Good 1 Eh Herman
Thai Clinch Hurtful 1 So So Herman
Throws/Trips Excellent 1 Good Herman
 Ground Fighting



 Positional Control Good 1 Very Good Einemo
 Top Game Good 1 Excellent Einemo
 Bottom Game Hapless 1 Ok Einemo
 Submissions Limited 1 Dangerous Einemo
Intangibles Hungry 1 Rusty Herman
Overall Prospect 7/4 One Dimensional Herman

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UFC 131 Fight Card Breakdown: Donald Cerrone Vs. Vagner Rocha

UFC lightweight Donald Cerrone was supposed to fight Ultimate Fighter winner Mac Danzig at UFC 131. When injuries forced Danzig off the card, UFC rookie Vagner Rocha got his big chance to fight on a UFC main card. 

Cerrone is 1-0 in the UFC after defeating Paul Kelly at UFC 126. Prior to coming to the big show, he had been one of the WEC's top lightweights, twice fighting for the organization's title. He's 14-3 overall in his MMA career and trains out of Greg Jackson's famous fight camp in New Mexico. 

"The Cowboy" is known for his aggressive style that combines vicious Muay Thai striking with a solid submission game. Wrestling had historically been his weakest range as a fighter but in his rematch with Jamie Varner at WEC 51, he showed he'd made considerable strides in that area.

Rocha is 6-1 in his MMA career and makes his UFC debut Saturday. A black belt under the esteemed Pablo Papovich, Rocha has a distinguished track record in international jiu jitsu competition. Despite having a couple of TKO wins on his MMA resume and some decent boxing, he's still a fairly limited fighter who will likely be out of his depth striking with Cerrone. It's also doubtful that he's got the wrestling to put Cerrone on his back and keep him there. 

Look for Cerrone to feast on Rocha's weak stand up game and score a quick TKO win. If Rocha can force a ground fight, Cerrone won't be lost but he'll be well advised to get back to his feet ASAP. Cerrone might also want to avoid the Thai clinch, a position in which he's dangerous but throwing knees while Rocha has his hands on you could lead to getting taken down.

AspectCerronePointsRochaAdvantage
Range Fighting



Boxing Solid Surprising Cerrone
Kickboxing Dangerous Fair Cerrone 
Wrestling Improving Ok Tie
Clinch Fighting        
Dirty Boxing Ok 1 Limited Cerrone
Thai Clinch Offensive 1 Threatening Tie
Throws/Trips Ok 1 Good Rocha
 Ground Fighting



 Positional Control Good 1 Very Good Rocha
 Top Game Very Good 1 Excellent Rocha
 Bottom Game Dangerous 1 World Class Rocha
 Submissions Effective 1 World Class Rocha
Intangibles Experienced 1 Newbie Cerrone
Overall Proven 6/5 Unknown Cerrone

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UFC 131 Main Fight Card Breakdowns: Shane Carwin Vs. Junior Dos Santos, Kenny Florian Vs. Diego Nunes, And More

SBN will be offering quick but comprehensive previews of each fight on the main card of UFC 131. We will look at each aspect of the fight game: Range Fighting, Clinch Fighting, and Ground Game; and break down which fighter has the advantage in each category. 

Each major category is further broken down into sub-categories. These are:

  • Range Fighting: Boxing, Kickboxing, Wrestling
  • Clinch Fighting: Dirty Boxing, Thai Clinch, Throws/Trips
  • Ground Fighting: Positional Control, Top Game, Bottom Game, Submissions

Since it's a binary choice -- either one fighter is better at a certain aspect or it's a tie -- the rankings are just descriptive, not a formal ladder. IE if I rate one fighter's boxing as "lethal" and the other fighter's boxing as "extremely dangerous" just look to see which fighter I gave the nod in that category to find out if "lethal" is indeed better than "extremely dangerous" (it is).

UFC 131 was originally supposed to feature a headlining fight between former champ Brock Lesnar and Junior dos Santos. That fight was cancelled when Lesnar required surgery for his diverticulitis. Shane Carwin stepped up to face dos Santos. The winner is expected to face UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez when he returns from rotator cuff surgery in the fall.

The event is taking place Saturday, June 11, 2011 at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It will be broadcast in three parts: pay-per-view, Spike TV and streamed live on Facebook and YouTube.

Here's the full line-up:

Pay Per View Card

Junior Dos Santos vs. Shane Carwin
Jon Olav Einemo vs. Dave Herman
Donald Cerrone vs. Vagner Rocha 
Demian Maia vs. Mark Munoz
Kenny Florian vs. Diego Nunes

Preliminary Card (Spike TV)

Yves Edwards vs. Sam Stout
Jesse Bongfeldt vs. Chris Weidman

Preliminary Card (Facebook and YouTube):

Dustin Poirier vs. Jason Young
Mike Massenzio vs. Krzysztof Soszynski
Darren Elkins vs. Michihiro Omigawa
Joey Beltran vs. Aaron Rosa
James Head vs. Nick Ring

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