UFC 100 is here, and so is Frank Mir’s chance of a lifetime to represent MMA values at their best in the much-anticipated David versus Goliath re-match with putative title-holder, Brock Lesnar (3-1-0). (Check out the Yahoo countdown to UFC 100. Click on the video player for the pre-fight previews.)
At about 30% versus a whopping 70% for Lesnar, very few bettors are giving Mir much of a chance of kicking Lesnar’s butt and pulling off another upset, UFC 81 style. But that’s really neither here nor there where hard-core MMA fans are concerned.
Win Place Or Show: All Mir has to do is come in the best shape of his life and represent MMA the way Randy Couture represented it at UFC 91. What that means is that, win or lose, Mir can still show the world what the heart, mind and soul of a tried-and-true MMA pugilist is all about; namely drop-dead skill unencumbered by presumptions of force. This approach calls for a different kind of approach …. A different kind of method. (A page from Lyoto Machida‘s book could perhaps be helpful, but we can’t say for sure.)
Of Mixed Martial Arts and Pachyderms: If there ever was an elephant-in-the-room question, it is simply this: Who is best suited to carry the UFC banner into a post-Liddell world? Or put another way: Who is best suited to be one of the poster boys, not just for UFC, but MMA at large? In certain ways this question is bigger than who is gonna win this hyped-up tournament, right up there with the need to split the heavyweight division so that size does not become the inordinate factor in determining who wins or loses.
Our no-brainer vote goes with Frank Mir. Why? Well, he has the skills, smarts and spirit of what MMA is all about for starters. Which leads us to believe that beyond MMA pugilism, Mir has a future as an MMA commentator, the wry trash talking schtick notwithstanding. Brock Lesnar is a contender, but he still has a long way to go before he, pound-for-pound, starts matching the mettle of fighters like Mir and Couture et al.
“(Brock Lesnar) wants to smash me to smithereens and put his fist down my throat, which I understand. But I want to choke him unconscious until he does the fish on the ground.” Frank Mir mouthing off about UFC 100 at the Arnold Classic 2009 Expo. Oi vei!
But the beauty of UFC 100 is that beyond representin’, Mir could pull off an upset of Lesnar by yet another submission. He just has to find a way to weather the initial barrage that Lesnar may unleash on him. If Mir can find a way to inflict punishing leg kicks on Lesnar’s without being grounded and pounded, then he will have a tool that may just win him the fight. Without full leg power and balance, Lesnar’s explosiveness in the stand-up game would not be possible. But the strategy is fraught with all kinds of dangers for Mir as UFC 81 demonstrated. The moment Mir tried to kick Lesnar’s leg, he got grounded and pounded almost into oblivion. Most fighters tend to leave themselves open to immediate counter-attack not to mention momentary loss of balance in average kick situations. Lyoto Machida has a way to deal with this. Firstly, he delivers his kicks from way out of the strike zone. And secondly he employs tremendous speed and retracts his leg immediately upon impact to regain instant balance.
Mir’s other vulnerability lies in possibly getting caught by one of Lesnar’s iron fists and losing his wits. The Lesnar right hand, that knocked Heath Herring on his ass and tumbled him like a bowling pin, is still awe-inspiring in its power, speed and sinewy reach. Check the slow motion replay of that blow and you will become an instant believer in how dangerous Lesnar can be on his feet. Notice how his feet for the perfect spring-board for that reach. It’s almost as if Herring didn’t have the time to block that right hand or get out of the way.
Mir will be particularly vulnerable in the average ground-and-pound situation because of Lesnar’s amazing strength. This is why Mir needs tremendous strength to be able to wiggle out of dangerous mount situations Heath Herring-style. Mir nearly lost UFC 81 when Lesnar took him down at will and started raining those knuckled bricks upon his head. The video is still a thriller to watch.
Endgame Scenarios: Do not get us wrong. We think Mir will fight a nervy, smart fight and never fall into the trap of trying to out-Brock Brock Lesnar: i.e. rushing him Tank Abott style or trying to land a Liddell-style haymaker. Beyond his own strength and conditioning, Mir is gonna need a couple of mistakes on the part of Lesnar to open the door for him. And given Lesnar’s inexperience, there is a good chance that he will open that door once or twice. (While on the subject we here at Cyberaxis would give a lot to find out what kind of a chin Lesnar has on that thick neck of his. A well placed blow, right on the button like the shot that brought down Gonzaga will answer that question in a Las Vegas second. But we digress. Mir ain’t no Carwin and Lesnar ain’t no Gonzaga.)
Lesnar’s strategic challenges are not as diminutive as they may appear at first. The question of the night is, does he rush Mir and bounce him off the octagon floor the way he did Heath Herring at the beginning of UFC 87 or does he settle for feeling him out until a great attack opportunity presents itself? If he settles for the rope-a-dope or odd mount fight that he had with Herring, our money is on Frank Mir to put a sneaky kibosh on the Brock’s ass . Short of Lesnar making some stupid mistake in the first round, Mir’s best strategy beyond inflicting punishing leg kicks, would to evade or smother Lesnar’s power in the earlier rounds and then moving in on him like an anaconda. Yep. Lesnar does need choking, before being relegated to the Butterbean realm of the super heavyweight division.
See update to this story under “UFC 100 Postmortem” below. The full video of the fight can for the time being be located at regretfulmorning.com here.
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