UFC 119 Preview Part Five: Frank Mir vs. Mirko Cro Cop

by Will Cooling – September 25, 2010 | @Insidefights.com

The UFC makes its Indiana debut with UFC 119, headlined by former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir and Pride Open Grand Prix Winner Mirko Cro Cop in a battle of two of the division’s biggest stars. However for all their fame both need to prove that they’re are still contenders in a weight class now dominated by younger, bigger, stronger wrestlers such as World Champion Brock Lesnar.

Frank Mir vs. Mirko Cro Cop

Frank Mir (13-5, 2KOs, 8Subs) will be looking to improve what has been a terrible 2010 for him. In March he quickly fell to Shane Carwin, so missing out on the chance to quickly earn a third match with Brock Lesnar. Outside the Octagon the charismatic heavyweight ran into trouble in February when he said that he wanted to break Lesnar’s neck and cause the former WWE star to be the first fighter to die “the first person that dies due to octagon-related injuries”. A grovelling apology followed, with the fallout not only costing Mir his job as a WEC commentator but also seemingly knocking his legendary self-confidence. He started talking about moving down to 205Ibs and has lacked his usual verbal aggression in the build up to both his fight against Carwin fight and tonight’s main event.

For Mirko Cro Cop (28-7-2-1NC, 21KO, 4Sub)  this fight comes as something of a surprise, with the legendary Croatian having been on vacation when the UFC asked him to replace Mir’s original opponent – Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria. Not only did this disturb his holidays but it put at risk the promotion’s long term plan to have him appear before his European fans at UFC 122, possibly against Randy Couture.

Having made his return to the promotion at UFC99, Cro Cop has gone 3-1 in last four fights but of those only Junior Dos Santos and Pat Barry should be considered opponents worthy of fighting the legendary Pride and K-1 star. Whilst Dos Santos brutalised him, Cro Cop stayed in the fight better than most of Dos Santos’ opponents, showing a veteran’s canniness in his ringmanship despite being outgunned. This would be in evidence at UFC115 where Cro Cop survived an early barrage from Pat Barry to secure a submission victory in the third round. His short training camp was not without complications, as he suffered an eye injury in sparring which seemingly called into question his ability to appear at UFC119.

Staff Predictions

John KirschnerOf course, if the fight goes to the ground Frank Mir will have the advantage. Cro Cop is no slouch on the ground, but I don’t think he matches up well with Mir at all. I believe the fight will stay on the feet, though, and will likely end in a first round knockout. With his eye injured, Cro Cop will be throwing dangerous kicks and punches, either trying to keep Mir at bay or trying to knock Mir out as soon as possible. Mir IS overconfident on his feet, and I don’t know why the media plays into him being a world-class striker now.I’m not saying that Cro Cop is elite right now, but I think he still has dangerous striking and a little bit of elite left in him.

Pick: Mirko Cro Cop via first round knock out

Chris RobertsSomething to appreciate about Mir/Cro Cop: At least it’s not Mir/Nogueira II. A hip injury forced Minotauro out of the main event and saved us from a match between two ground focused heavyweights. With Cro Cop we at least get a mild contrast in styles and a chance of seeing one of his world famous head kick KOs. . . Not that I would ever predict that. Instead I’ll risk nothing and bet on a safe strategic victory for Mir in which he plays defense and does everything in his power to steer clear of Crop Cop’s explosive attacks. He’ll most likely get the fight to the ground quickly, stay there for most of the fight, go for a few submissions and win every round on the scorecards.

Pick: Frank Mir via decision
Will Cooling The one thing I don’t expect from this fight is for it become a classic grappler-striker ‘clash of styles’ match; to me not only will Mir fancy himself to KO Cro Cop but he actually lacks the wrestling to overcome the Croatian’s excellent sprawl. If it stays on the feet as I expect, them to me the key question in this fight is who is stronger mentally? Frank Mir has a tendency to be complacent and stay in dangerous situations for too long – as shown in the first round against Brock Lesnar at UFC 100 and the end of his fight with Shane Carwin, both times where he was caught in his opposition’s strongest area and wasn’t proactive in trying to improve his position. Mirko Cro Cop has shown a tendency to mentally shutdown if a fight isn’t going well and since the horrific knockout he suffered against Gabriel Gonzaga a worrying hesitancy to pull the trigger. He did seem to overcome these problems against Pat Barry – coming back after a bad first round and actually throwing some of his more dangerous kicks as the fight progressed. If he can again withstand the early offense from the younger, bigger fighter I think Cro Cop still has enough about him to secure a victory as Mir tires.
Pick: Mirko Cro Cop via third round TKO.

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