Despite being a two-time heavyweight champion, Frank Mir was given little chance of leaving the MGM Grand Garden Arena Octagon a winner Saturday night at UFC 146 in Las Vegas.
Mir had to lift the belt from a man regarded as having the best boxing in UFC history -- titleholder Junior dos Santos, who successfully defended his title for the first time with a second-round TKO.
From the start, dos Santos dashed any hope Mir might have brought into the Octagon of wearing the title for a third time.
Dos Santos was just too fast for Mir, who struggled to avoid right hands to the head and body. Mir nearly got a much-needed takedown, but dos Santos easily escaped.
By the end of the opening round, dos Santos (15-1) unleashed a hard right to the temple that stunned Mir. He then delivered rights and lefts that sent Mir reeling.
The horn allowed the former champion to see the second round.
"He's the champ. He's fast," Mir said, after falling to 16-6. "I couldn't get out of the way."
Mir's inability to avoid dos Santos' punches led to his downfall in the second.
A hard right to the chin dropped Mir and dos Santos pounced. The champ got off the ground briefly and landed another right hand that forced referee Herb Dean to end the fight at the 3:04 mark.
"I am feeling awesome," dos Santos said after the fight. "It's amazing. It's not bad for a nice guy. I came here to defend my belt, and I did it.
"This guy (Mir) can take a punch. My hand hurts."
Velasquez bloodies Silva en route to TKO win
But motivation was never an issue for Velasquez, who entered the UFC 146 co-main event determined to send a message that he is prepared to reclaim his title.
He accomplished his goal, finishing Silva by TKO at 3:36 of the first round.
"It's definitely a step in the right direction," Velasquez said. "Daniel Cormier, my teammate, fought Silva and he told me some things that occurred when they fought."
Cormier was the fighter Silva said he was not motivated to fight.
Velasquez (10-1) wasted no time establishing his dominance over Silva. He quickly took Silva to the ground and began delivering elbows and punches.
A hard left elbow opened a huge cut on the forehead of Silva. The amount of blood pouring from his wound made it difficult for Silva (16-4) to see.
After a cageside physician allowed the bout to continue, Velasquez resumed the punishment. Velasquez further targeted Silva's injury.
When Silva no longer could defend himself, referee Josh Rosenthal jumped in to stop the fight.
Nelson right hand KOs Herman in 51 seconds
UFC president Dana White had hinted at possibly forcing heavyweight fan-favorite Roy Nelson down a weight class if he didn't find some consistency in the cage.
Nelson, who had dropped three of his four most recent fights, put the brakes on any talk of him being forced out of the heavyweight division with an impressive first-round KO of Dave Herman.
An overhand right 51 seconds into the bout sent Herman to the canvas. Herman had no idea where he was and referee Steve Mazzagatti quickly jumped in to prevent Nelson (17-7) from doing serious damage.
"It feels good," Nelson said of the punch that gave him his second win in three fights. "The right hand rocks."
Herman, who now has lost two in a row, falls to 21-4.
Miocic hands del Rosario first loss
The long layoff because of a car accident that left del Rosario with a herniated disc could have resulted in cage rust. But del Rosario got off to a fast start with kicks that did damage to the body.
In the second round, Miocic took control on the ground, landing hard elbows that opened a cut above del Rosario's right eye.
Once the blood started flowing, Miocic (9-0) increased his assault output, forcing referee Yves Lavigne to stop it at the 3:14 mark.
"He hits hard," Miocic said of del Rosario. "[The kicks didn't hurt], but if I had taken a few more, they would have."
Del Rosario, who defeated Lavar Johnson in February 2011 in his last outing, drops to 11-1.
Struve submits Johnson in first with armbar
Lavar Johnson loves throwing punches. And Stefan Struve isn't afraid to take a punch to land one of his own.
Both heavyweights know how to put people away early, and that's what was expected when they put their respective two-fight wins streaks on the line.
While Johnson relies almost exclusively on punches, Struve also can submit opponents. He submitted Johnson with an armbar at 1:05 of the first round.
"I felt I could get the armbar by getting my hips in place," said Struve, who pulled guard when the fighters were engaged in a clinch.
Struve improves to 24-5.
Johnson, who accepted this fight on short notice, suffered his first UFC loss and dropped to 17-6.
Elkins survives early onslaught to beat Brandao
Whether with power punches or submission holds, featherweight Diego Brandao has proven himself to be a finisher. But his most recent wins have come during Season 14 of "The Ultimate Fighter."
Brandao got a chance to demonstrate what he could do against a wise, skilled veteran such as Darren Elkins.
And while Brandao had his moments, especially in the opening round, it was Elkins who prevailed -- earning a unanimous decision.
All three judges scored the fight 29-28 for Elkins. ESPN.com also had Elkins, 29-28.
An overly aggressive Brandao dominated the opening round with kicks, punches and flying knees. He even handled Elkins (14-2) on the ground. But Brandao exerted lots of energy and slowed down in the second and third rounds.
That allowed Elkins, a seasoned wrestler, to take control on the ground.
"My whole camp was [saying] he comes out hard, he comes out swinging," Elkins said. "It turned out that way."
Brandao falls to 14-8.
Varner shocks Barboza with first-round TKO
For those who might have forgotten, Jamie Varner once held the WEC lightweight title.
He sent a reminder by handing highly touted Edson Barboza his first pro loss.
Varner landed hard right hands to the head and lefts to body early on.
It was a right hand to the head that wobbled Barboza. Varner then threw Barboza to the canvas, where he landed several hammer fists, forcing referee Steve Mazzagatti to jump in at 3:23 of the first round.
"Barboza is tough. He's a scary dude," said Varner, who made his first appearance under the Zuffa banner since December 2010. "I didn't care if I won or loss, I just wanted to put on a good performance for the fans."
Varner improves to 20-6-1 with two no contests, while Barboza drops to 10-1.
Dollaway controls Miller en route to victory
The judges scored it 29-28, 30-26 and 29-28. ESPN.com had Dollaway winning 30-27.
Dollaway stood and traded punches with Miller until a hard right wobbled him early in the second.
From that point, Dollaway relied on his wrestling to control Miller on the mat.
"The game plan was to stand and trade with him and get the takedowns when I could," said Dollaway, who improved to 12-4. "But he hurt me in the second round pretty good. I did what I had to do coming off that hip surgery."
Miller falls to 23-9 with one no contest.
Hardy ends four-fight skid with first-round KO
And Hardy got it by registering a first-round KO.
After trading punches and kicks early, Hardy finished matters with a left hook square on the chin that dropped Ludwig. Hardy (24-10, one no contest) landed several more punches that rendered Ludwig unconscious.
Referee Josh Rosenthal waved it off at the 3:51 mark.
"It's good to be back," Hardy said after earning his first win since November 2009. "It's really good to be back."
Ludwig (21-13) has now lost two in a row.
Powerful Brown holds off Pineda
Former WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown proved physically too strong for Daniel Pineda en route to a unanimous decision.
All three judges scored the bout 29-28. ESPN.com had it 30-27 for Brown, who improved to 26-8.
The win was Brown's second inside UFC. He dropped his first two fights in the promotion.
Brown used his superior physical strength to land hard right hands and secure takedowns. By the second round, Pineda was beginning to breath heavy.
Pineda's win streak ends at seven. His pro mark slips to 17-8.
Teixeira impressive in UFC debut
All the hype surrounding Glover Teixeira proved warranted.
The highly regarded light heavyweight had no difficulty registering a victory in his UFC debut against Kyle Kingsbury.
Teixeira softened Kingsbury up with several hard punches on the ground before finishing him with an arm triangle at 1:53 of the first round.
Teixeira improves to 18-2, while Kingsbury falls to 11-4 with one no contest.
Volkmann becomes Sass' latest triangle victim
The game plan is never a secret: Lightweight Paul Sass always enters the cage looking to apply a triangle.
As with Sass' previous foes, Jacob Volkmann knew this but could do nothing to prevent it. Sass pulled guard early in the first round and eventually applied a triangle armbar that forced Volkmann to tap at 1:54.
"I practice (the triangle) all the time and it comes natural to me," Sass said.
The triangle was Sass' ninth as he improves to 13-0. Volkmann, who entered the bout on a five-fight win streak, falls to 14-3.