Next Saturday (Super Bowl weekend) in Las Vegas UFC 81 will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. I am actually really looking forward to this event. The co-main event features former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir against former NCAA wrestling champion and former WWE (pro wrestling organization) star Brock Lesnar. I can't remember the last time I was excited about a UFC heavyweight fight, but this match-up has really caught the attention of fans and myself alike. There is a TON of debate out there about who is going to win this fight. I was at "youtube" yesterday watching videos previewing the fight and reading the comments left by viewers of these videos. The "experts" seem to be evenly split about who they think will win. Some believe Mir will win by submission and some believe that Lesnar will be able to use his superior wrestling skills to defeat Mir. Let's not forget that Mir is a former high school wrestling champ and that his best position is on his back where he has submitted Tim Sylvia, Pete Williams and Tank Abbot to name a few. I would not be surprised if Mir let's himself be taken down so he can work on submitting Lesnar from his back. Allowing a 265 pound man who is all muscle and a great wrestler to take you down might not be the best idea though. Lesnar has only one MMA fight that lasted a mere 90 seconds, but he was easily able to take down his opponent, pass his guard, gain mount and force him to verbally submit due to strikes. Mir needs to keep this in mind if he decides to pull guard. Lesnar of course needs to watch the submissions. I would imagine he is working with his coaches on submission defense and his striking. Wrestling is a great skill (Lesnar has great wrestling skill) and most champions in the UFC (atleast historically) have a wrestling background, but the new world of MMA is evolving into a world where well-rounded skills are required simple to survive much less win a title. George St. Pierre, B.J. Penn and Fedor Emelianenko come to mind as champion fighters that possess great striking and grappling ability. It's hard to know how good Lesnar's striking and jiu-jitsu skills are since he has had only one fight, but rumor has it he is progressing in these areas at a rapid pace. He is a great athlete, that can't be denied, but Mir is no slouch either.
Much has been written about this fight. Someone wrote that Mir has everything to lose and nothing to gain and Lesnar has everything to gain and nothing to lose. Not true. Let's examine Mir first. If Mir wins he won a fight in the Octagon. Every win in the UFC is big. A victory means he is one step closer to a title shot and let's not forget that he broke Sylvia's arm to win that title years ago. A motorcycle accident took him out of the sport for a year and a half and since he has returned the results have been mixed. Defeating Lesnar in a much-hyped fight would be big for Mir. A loss would look bad for Mir so I'm sure he is taking the fight seriously. But, it's the loss that would be bad not who he loses to. As for Lesnar, winning your first fight in the UFC is big. I think if he wins we will see for sure that he is serious about being a fighter. There are many people that view him as a joke, a money-making scheme contrived by Dana White (UFC President). He can put this talk to rest with a victory. He is no stranger to competition and has tasted defeat before. In interviews with Lesnar about this fight he sounds very confident and ready for war. He has said that Mir is in his way and that he's going to put his fist's down Mir's throat. So I guess what Lesnar has to lose is simply losing. He has talked real tough and now he needs to back it up (http://www.mmaweekly.com/absolutenm/templates/dailynews.asp?articleid=5570&zoneid=2). A loss could destroy his confidence and make him question whether or not he made the right decision about his new career in MMA. Lesnar has a lot to lose.
Next Saturday a lot of questions will be answered about the UFC heavyweight division. Currently, Randy Couture is being sued by the UFC for "breach of contract" so Tim Sylvia will fight former "Pride" (Pride Fighting Championship is a now defunct MMA organization) superstar Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for the "interim" UFC heavyweight title. Will the winner of this fight be the next challenge for "The Natural" Randy Couture? Will a new "star" be born in Lesnar or will a former champ (Mir) take a step closer to redemption that for him would be the UFC heavyweight belt? Will a muscular former pro wrestler leave the Octagon with his tail between his legs or will a former champ's career take a step off a cliff falling into obscurity? Intriguing isn't it? I can't predict the future, but I can try. Mir is dangerous from his back, that's his strength, but I don't feel it will be enough to beat Lesnar. Lesnar will use his strength and wrestling ability to defeat Frank Mir. Mir will throw everything in submissions at Lesnar, but the former NCAA wrestling champ will be ready for it. This fight does'nt make it to the 3rd round. Lesnar by TKO in the second.