Say this for the
Ultimate Fighting Championship: thanks to clever marketing and
the well-produced “Primetime” series, it almost seems like Junior
Santos-Frank Mir was
the heavyweight title tilt the promotion always wanted. Of course,
we all know better. However, just because Alistair
Overeem is out of the picture for now does not mean
UFC 146 is not worth watching.
Mir was the first man to knock out and submit dos Santos’ mentor,
Rodrigo Nogueira, adding a revenge angle to the proceedings.
Then there is the lack of respect Mir has received since being
named the main-event replacement for Overeem; if the former
heavyweight king is not at least a little bit motivated by all the
doubters, then he is not human. At any rate, it figures to be a
good test of dos Santos’ restraint, because an over exuberant
pursuit of the finish against an accomplished grappler like Mir
could spell doom for the Brazilian.
After more than a little reshuffling, the rest of the
all-heavyweight main card managed to survive Overeem’s
transgressions. Those with short attention spans take note: the
odds of this being a long, drawn out pay-per-view are slim and
Here is a closer look at UFC 146 “Dos Santos vs. Mir,” with
analysis and picks:Sherdog Fantasy MMA:
UFC 146 "Dos Santos vs. Mir" Free Fan Pick’Em
UFC Heavyweight Championship
Santos (14-1, 8-0 UFC) vs. Frank Mir
(16-5, 14-5 UFC)
The Matchup: On paper, this appears to be a
stylistic nightmare for Mir, who has shown a tendency to get rocked
by the division’s heavy hitters during his UFC career. In terms of
knockout proficiency, dos Santos is about as good as it gets at
heavyweight; only Roy Nelson
Carwin have managed to go the distance with the heavy-handed
Brazilian, and they both absorbed plenty of punishment for their
efforts. Most recently, the durable Cain
Velasquez fell victim to a brutal overhand right and follow-up
punches from dos Santos at UFC on Fox 1 in November, relinquishing
his belt in just 64 seconds.
As daunting as it may be to face an opponent who has stopped 11 of
his 14 victims inside of a round, Mir has a wealth of big-fight
experience upon which to draw. Long before “Cigano” was crushing
foes in the Octagon with his lead uppercut, Mir was submitting
Sylvia to capture the heavyweight championship at UFC 48. The
sport has evolved quite a bit since 2004, but Mir’s one significant
advantage in this fight remains the same: his submission game.
Mir became the first person to submit Antonio
Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 140 with a gruesome kimura, and he was
able to execute the finish thanks to his uncanny composure.
“Minotauro” had wobbled the Las Vegas resident on the feet and was
looking to finish with a flurry of strikes and a choke on the mat.
Somehow, Mir maintained his senses enough to scramble out of danger
and lock in the fight-ending maneuver. This was not a case of a
jiu-jitsu practitioner playing possum, either; Mir was legitimately
dazed. His ability to maintain his faculties against dos Santos is
key to his survival, because it is only a matter of time before the
champion puts his chin to the test.
Mir earned another UFC title shot in
brutal fashion against Nogueira.
Dos Santos has quick hands and understands how to use angles to
evade the strikes of his opposition. He is fluid and mobile on the
outside, judiciously using his jab until the right moment arrives
to collapse the pocket. When the time comes, both his uppercut and
counter left hook are game-changers. Mir’s standup has improved
over the years, but he is nowhere near “Cigano’s” league in the
Mir will have to be creative in figuring out ways to close the
distance against dos Santos, using well-timed combinations to set
up takedowns. In eight Octagon appearances, only Carwin and
Gonzaga have been able to get the Team Nogueira pupil to the
ground, and both did so with minimal results. Still, it is worth
the risk, if only to attempt to make the champion uncomfortable.
Mir can also attempt to drain dos Santos’ cardio in tie-ups, as
long as he is active from this position. Resting against the fence
will only result in Mir eating knees and uppercuts from the
Brazilian. Instead, Mir should look to work for an outside trip,
where he can attempt to implement his vaunted ground game.
A more plausible scenario has Mir getting dropped and dos Santos
following into guard. It is as good a chance for an upset as Mir
has, because his guard is excellent and he has an ability to
capitalize on the smallest of openings. If dos Santos dives in
carelessly to finish the fight, Mir will have his moment.
The Pick: Dos Santos learned from watching his
mentor succumb to the resourceful Mir, so do not expect a breakdown
in strategy from the champion. “Cigano” will pick apart Mir on the
outside early, stuff takedowns and eventually land the power shots
for which he is known. There will be no temporary lapse in
judgment, as dos Santos finishes the fight with strikes in round
Next Fight »
Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva