Twelve months ago, we assumed Alistair Overeem would steamroll over Antonio” Bigfoot” Silva to earn a heavyweight title shot. We also assumed that Frank Mir was going to bounce back into contention like had done before. Instead, it was Overeem who was steamrolled by Silva and has been knocked out two straight times while Mir has lost three in a row in an unimpressive fashion. They will fight each other this Saturday at UFC 169 in a bout that could very well see the loser cut from the promotion.
Mir is beginning the back-end of his career, while Overeem is simply hit or miss. If this is so, then why should we care about this fight? They are the most recognizable names on the card, but the UFC isn’t promoting their bout. The two world title fights are getting all the attention, and rightfully so. Normally though, the UFC will promote the big-name non-title fights to boost the event’s profile and the lesser-known fighters by association. Does Zuffa no longer hold either heavyweight in high esteem, or is it just a matter of promoting sport over spectacle?
This fight is a mixed bag that can go many different ways. Mir sees submission opportunity before most people even think of looking for one. His Boxing is decent, but throwing a 1-2 combo repeatedly will be ineffective against a Kickboxer with Overeem’s pedigree. Wrestling isn’t Mir’s strong suit, so shooting for a single or double leg is not the best idea in the bout’s early stages. Catching Overeem in a scramble using inside leg trips is his best chance at a takedown. Mir must avoid the clinch game like Superman avoids Kryptonite. He is not the most durable fighter, and if Josh Barnett was able to drop him in the clinch on paper, then punishment from Overeem should be much worse. If Mir can weather the storm early on, his chances of victory increase dramatically.
Keeping Mir upright is Overeem’s best chance at victory. While he is no slouch on the ground, Mir has submitted the best of the best, so he shouldn’t even think of playing that game. Overeem likes to pick his shots instead of throwing faints to find his range. Using leg kicks to keep Mir off-balance could help him land that pivotal punch that finishes the fight. Cardio has always been an issue for both fighters. Sometimes they come into the bout in great shape, and other times they don’t. However, Overeem has a tendency to either take fighters lightly or fight not to lose like he did against Fabrício Werdum. If he comes in ready and completely focused, he will give Mir a lot of problems.
As I wrote this breakdown, I realized why this fight has garnered little interest. It’s sad to see two former world champions fight it out to potentially maintain employment. It’s not a sexy proposition when trying to convince people to pay their hard-earned money to watch such an encounter. The combative particulars of the bout present more problems than solutions with minimal upside and a run at the title, at this point, seems out of the question no matter who wins on Saturday. If Overeem loses, the UFC will wash their hands of him. If Mir loses, there will be some hesitation to release him because he is one of the sport’s most recognizable names, and he has been with the company for over thirteen years. However, it will be hard to justify not cutting him after losing four in a row. If they both enter the Octagon at their absolute best, fans will be in for a treat, and perhaps, the end won’t be near for either warrior.