When someone is sentenced to death row, the inmate will eventually take that inevitable walk to his execution. Prison guards will yell ‘dead man walking’ as the inmate takes that long walk before his demise. Saturday night at UFC 146, as Frank Mir walked to the Octagon, it may have been apropos had his training camp been yelling ‘dead man walking’ before getting into the cage with UFC Heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos.
As Mir entered the Octagon, there was a feeling of when, not if, Junior Dos Santos would put the former two-time UFC champion out of his misery. Mir, clearly confident in his world class BJJ , now had to figure out a way to put Dos Santos in such a position to utilize those skills; in hope of pulling off the potential upset. That would be easier said than done.
Mir didn’t waste much time with the takedown attempt that (insert any famous blind person of all-time) would’ve seen coming. Dos Santos showed incredible balance as he avoided what was actually a quality attempt that may have put most people down. From that point forward Frank Mir would become a human punching bag for the UFC Heavyweight Champion. Dos Santos just picked Mir apart with such a display of world class striking. Mir had no idea what was coming or where it was going; whether it was to the body or the face; Dos Santos continued to land blow after blow with little resistance.
Mir to his credit (to my dismay based on my prediction) found a way to escape the first round. However, you just had the feeling the end was near. Just before the second round was about to start Mir had a smile on his face. Now I have no idea if something was said to produce such an expression, especially during a fight. I thought the smile represented that Mir may have been surprised to be entering the second round; Almost saying ‘nobody thought I’d make it this far’. I also thought the smile indicated him knowing how much better Dos Santos is and knowing it was just a matter of time before his night was over. Often times during a fight, when a fighter gets tagged he will smile at his opponent and claim it didn’t hurt him, but most times its just the opposite. I thought Mir’s smile was the proverbial picture of 1,000 words.
Junior Dos Santos was like a surgeon Saturday night; striking with such speed, precision and accuracy. He was also very cautious and wisely respectful of Mir’s BJJ, which is why it took a little bit longer than most expected to end the fight. Dos Santos didn’t want to leave himself open for a takedown, and didn’t want to make a mistake that would’ve given Mir an opportunity to utilize his only advantage in the fight–his ground game.
Dos Santos caught Mir in the 2nd round with a right hand that dropped him, which led to Herb Dean stepping in to end the fight. Junior Dos Santos said on UFC Primetime that training for a fight is harder than the fight itself. For this particular fight, words could not have been more true.
The question is, who’s next for Dos Santos? Former champion Cain Velasquez proved losing to Dos Santos did nothing but motivate him, as he absolutely destroyed Antonio Silva. A re-match between the two is more likely now considering Alistar Overeem isn’t eligible for a license until December, and Strikeforce Grand Prix champion Daniel Cormier will be out for some time after sustaining a broken hand in his win over Josh Barnett.
The million dollar question is, who can put Dos Santos on his back? It may be someone we least expect. I would like to see how Dos Santos reacts to someone pulling guard the way Stefan Struve did against Lavar Johnson. Talk about a smart fighter. What greater way to neutralize a striker than to clinch and pull guard? Every camp will study Dos Santos and try to find a weakness or a way to attack. I wish them the best of luck trying.