The UFC’s heavyweight division has always provided a much higher ratio of finishes then the lighter weight classes and this trend looks set to continue at UFC 169 as two of its biggest and baddest behemoths collide in an old school match-up that pits together two veterans from contrasting sides of the MMA tracks.
Frank Mir (16/8) has been a UFC stalwart for almost his entire career and has held their heavyweight strap on two separate occasions, while his opponent Alistair Overeem (36/13/1NC) has bounced around the MMA universe for over a decade and held notable titles in Strikeforce, K1 and Dream.
Yet despite their stellar resumes they now face each other in a pivotal contest that will shape their fighting future.
Fight Breakdown – “Styles make fights” is a common cliché but in the world of MMA it could not be more relevant. Frank Mir and Alistair Overeem are two such proponents who have become synonymous with their unique and contrasting fighting styles and at UFC 169 they will put their skills to the test in a highly anticipated match-up that has been long in the making.
After three consecutive defeats, Frank Mir enters the contest with his career on the line and the former UFC champion will need to showcase his grappling skills, if he is to halt this unfamiliar losing streak. After relocating to Jackson’s MMA in New Mexico, success normally follows suit but after facing a murderers’ row of elite heavyweights including Junior Dos Santos and Daniel Cormier, Mir now needs to prove that he remains among the UFC elite.
His opponent, Alistair Overeem enters the octagon on the wrong end of two devastating knockout losses, first to former training partner Antonio “Big Foot” Silva and then rising star Travis Browne. After making such a promising start to his UFC career, the man predicted by many to rule their heavyweight class, now fights to simply remain within it and after uprooting his fight camp from the Blackzillians in Florida to Thailand, one can expect an even more strike orientated performance.
As Mir has developed his stand up skills he has become less reliant upon the outstanding submission based game that had seen him rise to prominence, yet after being out-struck by his most recent opponents, I expect Mir to try and bring this fight to the mat as soon as he finds ample opportunity. The Dutch kickboxing style that Overeem possesses is extremely destructive but it can leave openings, particularly in MMA where smaller gloves are worn and after seeing his training partner Travis Browne exploit those holes, Mir will be confident that he can repeat the trick and synch up another signature submission.
Overeem is no slouch on the mat by any means and has submitted many an illustrious opponent but he would be ill advised to seek a grapple-heavy tussle with Mir and will instead rely upon his more advanced striking game. As in most contests Overeem enters, he will carry a significant power advantage and if he can dictate Mir’s movement by cutting off the cage and remain within striking distance throughout, he should be able to use his famed clinch to punish his opponent with elbows and knees.
Why It Matters – Both men enter the cage with their backs against the fence, knowing that defeat would put an end to not only any fleeting title ambitions but in all likelihood their UFC tenure, yet victory would grant a much-needed reprieve and a springboard back up the ladder in a notoriously shallow and turbulent heavyweight division.
A career in broadcasting could beckon for Mir should he be unable to register a win and he has already shown his credentials and ease on the microphone as a commentator in the UFC’s former playground, the WEC. As far as I can tell, Overeem has no such alternative and although a return to kickboxing could be on the horizon, a loss for the Dutchman would arguably be more damaging after all the hype and expectation upon his UFC arrival.
Prediction – Alistair Overeem.
With so much on the line I can’t wait to see how both men approach this bout but I don’t envision Mir being able to bring the fight to the mat and so I believe the power that Overeem retains will ultimately make the difference. As long as he can keep his composure, pick his shots wisely and avoid any mad scrambles I envision ‘The Reem’ will reign supreme come fight night.