UFC: Frank Mir v Junior Dos Santos heavyweight title fight rocks Las Vegas
In MMA it doesn’t get any bigger than the UFC heavyweight championship of the world and that’s precisely what’s on the line this Saturday night in Las Vegas. Local boy done good Frank Mir is gunning to once again become the organisation’s heavyweight kingpin. To do that he will have to go through imposing Brazilian striker Junior Dos Santos… easier said than done…
Any mixed martial artist performing at the highest level of the sport in any weight class deserves respect. Entering the octagon and putting it on the line is the truest test of an athlete’s mettle anywhere in the world of sports. Victory is sweet and coming in second can often be a harsh, humbling experience. There remains however something special about the heavyweight division in any combat sport. Those in the UFC who campaign over the 205lb weight threshold are viewed as the ultra alpha males. For UFC 146 in the MGM Grand this weekend Zuffa has produced a retro promo preview of the event which harks back to the sports bygone days and its heavyweight tournaments and rightly so. Not only are Mir and Dos Santos contesting the heavyweight strap but there are no fewer than four other bouts involving battles of the big men.
Mir to conquer student and master?
Having shattered the aura of invincibility that surrounded Minotauro Nogueira’s ground game Frank Mir looks to go one step further and best “Big Nog’s” star pupil Junior Dos Santos. Mir enters the title fight with considerable momentum following wins over Mirko Cro Cop, Roy Nelson and of course his gruesome submission of Nogueira in his last outing. Dos Santos is however, unquestionably on a different level to any of the aforementioned industry stalwarts. Possessing knock-out power in both hands and slick footwork for a big man JDS has passed all previous octagon tests with flying colours. In recent weeks Mir has been bullish, voicing his confidence that if this one hits the mat he will comfortably submit the BJJ purple belt. Others with more intimate knowledge of “Cigano’s” ground game have however vouched that his ju-jitsu is indeed legit and that simply because we haven’t seen him on the ground for any sustained period in his eight UFC outings to date doesn’t mean his grappling isn’t up to par.
Mir will be seeking to replicate his impressive victory at UFC 107 over Cheick Kongo against the similarly striking-centric Brazilian. In that bout he was able to stun the French kick-boxer with solid stand-up prior to an exquisite first round submission finish. Dos Santos will be looking to test Mir’s whiskers early and often. The Las Vegas resident can be bullied, though Dos Santos doesn’t have the wrestling chops of a Shane Carwin or Brock Lesnar. If any sub-plot were needed in a heavyweight title fight, Mir’s wrenching defeat of the man JDS lists as his hero and role model will provide it. He will have been working extensively on his take-down defence given Mir’s fearsome submission reputation and he will need it come fight time. I expect Mir to press forward and pose tough questions of the champion in the first two rounds. I do however see “Cigano” surviving some dangerous moments, finishing the ten year UFC vet via uppercut in round three.
Velasquez to return to winning ways?
Cain Velasquez isn’t a man of many words. Back in November he didn’t need to be. The shock, anguish and some would say embarrassment (which was misplaced by the way) was there for all to see. The proud Mexican/American, in just over one minute, had the heavyweight strap torn from around his waist by current incumbent Junior Dos Santos. The manner of the defeat will have given precious little indication to new fans of the sport as to how devastating the 29 year old former doorman truly can be. In “Bigfoot” Silva he is facing a genuinely stern test. Whilst Silva has reportedly slimmed down for his UFC debut, utilising his frame and strength will remain key to his attempts to close down a fighter many believed would reign for a prolonged period prior to his flash knockout in Anaheim’s Honda Centre.
Whilst I expect a frenetic, power packed opening stanza I think Velasquez’ big fight experience and considerable speed advantage will prove critical en route to a second round stoppage victory.
Jones faces challenging time
UFC President Dana White often quips that each day he wakes up “bad things happen” and this week was no different. The source of the controversy however was somewhat surprising. The promotions current poster boy Jon Jones has found himself under the microscope following his arrest in New York in relation to the crashing of his car. Whatever the outcome of the incident, fans will inevitably learn more about the character of the UFC’s light heavyweight champion.
Tougher fight for Faber?
So, Urijah Faber’s opponent in July’s interim title fight will indeed be none other than Brad Pickett conqueror Renan Barao. This guy is for real. Faber may well have been handed a tougher fight than original opponent Dominick Cruz. Barao is the type of hungry up and comer which will let the fans and Faber himself know just how much the likeable “California Kid” has left in terms of career longevity.
Ogle classy in defeat
Final word this week has to go to the North-East’s Andy Ogle. One of the most improved competitors on this season’s Ultimate Fighter Live Ogle has displayed grit and no shortage of application as he sought to earn the coveted UFC contract. Unfortunately for UK fans it just wasn’t meant to be. He succumbed late in the first round to an impressive Al Iaquinta stand up barrage in last Friday night’s episode. The class Ogle displayed in defeat does however auger well for his future in the sport.
Click here to check out my “In the Octagon” column in Japan’s The Asahi Shimbun as I interview UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitia. We also take a look at what’s next for The Korean Zombie following his potential fight of the year in Virginia…
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