UFC 146: Mir vs Dos Santos
UFC 146 takes place this Saturday night in Las Vegas. The Main Event is for the Heavyweight title. Frank Mir, a former champion, takes on current champion Junior Dos Santos.
Speaking of Las Vegas, Mir is pretty lucky to be in such a position. Originally, Dos Santos was scheduled to defend his title against Alistar Overeem, but Overeem's March drug test showed a 14:1 testosterone-epitestosterone ratio according to the NSAC. Whether it's injuries or failed drug tests, you almost have to pray to the MMA gods (do they exist?) that a scheduled fight actually takes place. And in Overeem's case, his physique alone has long created skepticism; no real surprise in any failed tests with his name attached to it.
Frank Mir is coming off an impressive win over MMA legend Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira. It was the 2nd time Mir defeated Big Nog in nearly 3 years; The first time was via TKO. We later learned Nogueira fought with a staph infection. In the re-match, Big Nog came out and dominated Mir with his stand-up, which resulted in Mir on his back. Noguerira, instead of going for ground and pound, decided to attempt a guillotine submission. It appeared Mir was done, but he then shocked most by escaping and reversing the position. Eventually Mir broke Big Nog's arm just as he was tapping out.
I felt Mir benefited from a terrible decision. Nogueria should have either went for ground and pound or just had Mir stand-up and continue attacking him on his feet. Mir, while in the guillotine, had time to recover from the stand-up beating he sustained. I also believe Big Nog had very little respect for Mir's submission defense and just thought he could end the fight on the ground. He learned the hard way. Mir has proven you cannot give him a limb--because he will break it. Had Nogueria not made such a mental mistake, it would be him in the position to fight for the title.
While I respect Mir's ground game, I just can't help but think of some of his performances against upper echelon fighters. He was clearly fortunate to escape Brock Lesnar's mauling in their first fight when he caught the green Lesnar in a kneebar submission. Once Lesnar figured out a few things, the re-match went pretty much the way their first fight started, only this time it ended in a TKO victory for Lesnar.
Mir and Dos Santos have 3 common opponents. They both defeated Roy Nelson via unanimous decision. They both beat Crocop. Mir was on his way to a decision victory before knocking out Mirko late in the 3rd round. Dos Santos dominated Crocop in the 3rd round and forced a verbal tapout. Shane Carwin is the major difference between the two. Dos Santos defeated Carwin via unanimous decision, while Mir was just absolutely destroyed by Carwin. Mir was cocky and overconfident with his newly displayed stand-up game and found out he was still far from a world class striker.
The biggest concern going into this fight for Dos Santos is how healthy his knee is following surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Mir is too smart not to test and see how well that knee has recovered. Unless Mir allows his ego to get the better of him, he knows that trying to stand with Dos Santos is likely to produce the same result as the Carwin fight. Conversely, Dos Santos wants to avoid the ground with Mir at all costs. Dos Santos needs to attack Mir the way he did Fabricio Werdum, when he knocked out the best BJJ guy in the game. I love that old saying--once you punch a black belt in the face they become a brown belt; punch them again and they become a blue belt etc etc.
The biggest question is, how does Mir get Dos Santos to the ground without going to sleep? I think Dos Santos is going to have to make a mental mistake in order to lose this fight. However, as I've stated Mir has had his fair share of luck, so you never know--anything is possible. Dos Santos has stated that his hero is Big Nog, so I'm sure he would love nothing more than to exact a measure of revenge for his hero by finishing Mir in devastating fashion. I'm predicting Dos Santos via knockout. I will be surprised if Mir escapes the first round.