Frank Mir’s spent 11 years in the UFC, has a 14-5 record inside the Octagon and has earned eight of those victories by submission. Despite this, it still isn’t enough to make him a favorite at UFC 146 when he faces Junior Dos Santos for the heavyweight title Saturday night. It isn’t enough to count him out either.
Mir is listed as a +375 underdog for those interested in placing a bet. His adversary, the current champion, is a -550 heavy favorite for Saturday night.
The reason dos Santos is so heavily favored is obvious – he possesses the best boxing in the heavyweight division, and maybe even the entire UFC. He has five first-round knockouts in eight career UFC fights, and three of those earned him Knock Out of the Night honors.
The reason dos Santos shouldn’t be so heavily favored is because of two things: First, this is MMA, not boxing. Second, look at Frank Mir’s fighting resume.
When Junior dos Santos knocked out Fabricio Werdum in his UFC debut at UFC 90 in October 2008, Frank Mir was 9-3 in the UFC and sitting pretty after his kneebar submission win over Brock Lesnar at UFC 81. He then went on to win the UFC interim heavyweight title by knocking out Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira later that month at UFC 92. Mir made his debut back in 2001 at UFC 34, beating Roberto Traven by armbar.
Mir is a two-time heavyweight champion, and has seen and done all there is to do in the Octagon. Actually no, he hasn’t loss by submission yet. Junior dos Santos’ only loss, albeit early in his MMA career and prior to the UFC, is by armbar submission. He has never truly been in a war, and we have never seen him display any ground skill. If Shane Carwin had about ten more seconds at the end of the third round at UFC 131, he would’ve put dos Santos to sleep in that guillotine he had.
With less than half the number of fights in the UFC, I find it strange that Junior called out Mir’s manhood.
“Yeah, I’ve said that he’s not a man – I’ve confirmed that,” dos Santos said, speaking to Mark Kriegel of FoxSports.com on “UFC Tonight.” “When he is in the moment in the fight, he is a monster, but when he leaves that moment in the fight, he can’t escape that moment. He can’t recover from that moment very well. He gives up very easily.”
I wonder if dos Santos would say that, had he dealt with Brock Lesnar pounding away on top of him. Only Randy Couture, Heath Herring and Frank Mir faced Lesnar when he was at his top ferocity level. Yes, Mir’s five losses have come by TKO and KO, but he did not mail in or give up in any of those fights. One of those was a controversial stoppage (Ian Freeman at UFC 38), and one was his first fight after almost a two year absence due to his motorcycle accident (Marcio Cruz on UFC 57) where he clearly wasn’t in top form. Only Carwin put him completely unconscious, and did not do it with one punch. Contrary to popular belief, Mir has proven his chin countless times.
Junior dos Santos has beaten everyone Joe Silva has matched him up against, and he won the UFC heavyweight title on the first FOX card, one of the biggest UFC events ever. Most of those wins have come in dominant, highlight reel fashion. None of those wins have come by submission, and “Cigano” has avoided any submission trouble, save for the previously mentioned Carwin guillotine attempt.
With only eight fights in the UFC, a fight will eventually go to the ground for dos Santos. While on the ground, his boxing skills will be useless, as will his footwork. He will then have to prove he can get back to his feet where his strength lies. If he can survive a seasoned submission artist’s attacks, that is.
Frank Mir laments on the flip side of the coin.
“I gotta be realistic,” Mir said on “UFC Primetime.” It’s funny, I heard his (dos Santos) corner saying, ‘The only chance Mir has, is if it goes to the ground.’ I’m like, well the only chance he has, is if it doesn’t go to the ground.”
“It goes back and forth,” Mir continued. “If he goes to the ground with me, he’s dead. You know what I mean. You might as well go ahead and start calling orthopedic surgeons and prep the room.”
Mir has sent three of his opponents (Traven, Sylvia and Nogueira) for doctor’s appointments after breaking their arms inside the Octagon, the last one belonging to dos Santos’ mentor Nogueira.
While Mir has always shown his prowess on the ground, he’s also defeated three pure strikers in his career in Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Antoni Hardonk and Cheick Kongo. He’s fought the heavyweight division’s best for the last eleven years, and has three TKOs to show for it.
I predicted Frank Mir would fight for the title by the end of this year one year ago on my “Darce Side Radio” broadcast. I’m picking him to win the title for the third time Saturday night in Las Vegas. This time, it won’t be by submission however. Mir will catch Junior with a knee, and then finish him off on the ground to earn the TKO victory.
As Ving Rhames states in his brilliantly voiced UFC 146 promos – “see what happens!”