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.
John Kirschner – Of 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 Roberts – Something 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.