When the news broke that Nogueira had been injured in training for his return match up with Frank Mir, the community expectantly waited to see which heavyweight would get the call from Joe Silva. Fans didn’t have to wait long as the news was broken that Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic was the man set to jump into the main event at UFC 119.
In many respects this match up presents us with a lot more interesting questions than the Mir vs. Nogueira rematch that was originally slated. The real interest lies in just what Frank Mir’s game plan will be fighting such a recognised striker.
Five years ago, suggesting that Frank Mir could stand up with Mirko would have got you laughed off every forum on the internet, but now the idea doesn’t seem so ludicrous. However it is easy to forgot, based solely on his performances in the UFC, just what a dynamic athlete the Croatian still is.
Mir looked confident on his feet against Nogueira and Kongo but will this new found confidence take him away from what bought him to the dance? His bone breaking submissions are what people should be genuinely afraid of, arguably there isn’t a heavyweight in the UFC with as deadly a guard as Mir.
The real question about Frank Mir is just how much his mauling defeats by Lesnar and Carwin affected him psychologically?
Coming into his fights against Carwin and Kongo, Frank Mir’s pre fight interviews were becoming more and more like an mma version of Fatal Attraction.
He was obsessed by Lesnar, and all his talk was about Brock and how the loss had affected him more than he knew how to deal with and how he would never suffer like this again; ironic perhaps that after being steamrolled by Lesnar, he was duly demolished by Carwin in even more brutal fashion.
Frank Mir has, of late, absorbed some tremendous shots from some of the heaviest handed human beings walking the face of the earth. It’s well known that a fighter’s chin is eroded over time as the cumulative effect of all the punishment takes a toll. It can only be imagined what the long term effects have been of the pummelling that Mir has received from the behemoths of the division.
It’s clear that Mirko has changed from his days in Pride. It was considered a huge upset when Gabriel Gonzaga knocked out Cro Cop at UFC 70, but looking at it logically, it merely marked a change in competition and the mma heavyweight landscape.
It’s debatable whether Fedor’s streak would have lasted as long as it did if he had followed his former adversary to fight for Zuffa.
Cro Cop’s paths to victory are clear but his options are more limited than in his last bout against Pat Barry. It simply won’t be an option for Mirko to submit Frank Mir with a hookless rear naked choke.
The Croatian’s legendary spiral takedown defence will need to be a key part of his arsenal if he hopes to stop the takedown and punish Mir whenever he enters close range.
It’s hard for me to pick a winner in a fight like this one simply because I have a terrible habit of picking with my heart rather than my head. I honestly think that Frank Mir has more ways to win than Mirko does but he has to pick his strategy very carefully; if Mir approaches this fight thinking he can have his way with Cro Cop on the feet, the UFC might finally get the high kick knockout clip they’ve always been looking for.