Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva excels in close quarters. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
The Ultimate Fighting Championship on Sunday returns to Fox Sports 1 for the second week in a row with a solid offering. Heavyweights Antonio Silva and Frank Mir headline the event at the Gigantinho Gymnasium in Porto Alegre, Brazil, though their fight is more depressing than compelling at this point in their careers.
Underneath the main event, however, the card shows real promise. The co-headliner, a lightweight affair between skilled strikers Edson Barboza and Michael Johnson, is an amazing matchup that promises fireworks of the highest order; Sam Alvey offers the best chance of just about any middleweight to force Cezar Ferreira into an exciting fight; the lightweight scrap between Rustam Khabilov and Adriano Martins should be fantastic; the bout between Santiago Ponzinibbio and Sean Strickland, who drops to welterweight for the first time, likewise holds great potential; and the rest of the card features the standard mismatches and prospect fights the UFC’s Brazilian product generally includes. They, too, should provide solid entertainment.
Let us take a look at each UFC Fight Night “Bigfoot vs. Mir” matchup:
HEAVYWEIGHTSAntonio Silva (18-6-1, 2-3-1 UFC) vs. Frank Mir (16-9, 14-9 UFC)
THE MATCHUP: With seven knockout losses on his record and a long career as a top heavyweight in the rearview mirror, the end of Mir’s long and illustrious career is approaching. He has lost four fights in a row and has not won since snapping Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira’s arm at UFC 140 more than three years ago. With his last win coming more than two years ago, Silva also faces the potential end of his career following a tumor on his pituitary gland and the subsequent banning of testosterone replacement therapy. This is not a great fight, and there are legitimate questions as to whether Mir and “Bigfoot” should even be competing given their history of knockout losses and serious health problems.
Mir’s best days are long behind him, but his skills are still more are less present even if his always-questionable chin has fully cracked. He whips a nice straight left from his southpaw stance and throws a decent left kick, though there is not much nuance to his striking game.
A solid if not outstanding wrestler, Mir can hit the occasional trip in the clinch and shoots a decent double-leg, especially against the cage. The real highlight of Mir’s game has always been and remains his opportunistic, violent submissions. Mir is not a terribly patient or well-rounded grappler, but nobody is better at latching onto a limb and twisting it into a fleshy pretzel than Mir. Kimuras, guillotines, armbars and leg locks are the staples of his grappling game, and he can apply them with shocking quickness and power. The real problem is Mir’s inability to absorb damage. He was never durable, and every opponent he has fought in the last three years has hurt him at some point in the fight.
Silva is in a rough spot after his recent run, and physically he looked a bit sluggish and depleted in his knockout loss to Andrei Arlovski. From a skills perspective, however, Silva is still sharp. He is a sound striker, solid wrestler, powerful clinch fighter and boasts one of the more brutalizing top games in the sport. He likes to probe with an array of side and quick round kicks at range and fires a long, surprisingly fast straight right as both a lead and a counter. There are two problems with Silva’s range striking game, however. The first is a crushing lack of speed. The second is a suspect chin: Quick, powerful punchers have been his kryptonite, but luckily for him, Mir does not fit that archetype. In the clinch, “Bigfoot” is a real handful, and he marries his raw size and strength to a nice array of trips and control positions. When he grabs the double-collar tie, he really shines with vicious knees to the head and body. Shot takedowns are not Silva’s forte, but he is relatively difficult to get to the mat. Guard play is not really a strength, either, but if Silva gets on top, he combines a slick passing game with an unshakeable base and some of the most powerful ground strikes in all of MMA.
THE PICK: Unless Silva’s problems with his pituitary gland have completely ruined him, he holds practically all the skill advantages here. While not exactly iron-jawed, Silva is more durable than Mir, will be difficult to take down and is probably a more skilled striker and clinch fighter. If the fight does go to the ground, it will probably be with Silva in top position, and he is fully capable of shutting down Mir’s bottom game and putting out his lights. The most likely scenario is Silva stunning Mir with shots on the feet or in the clinch, following him to the ground and finishing with punches. The pick is Silva by knockout in the second round.
Next Fight » Edson Barboza vs. Michael Johnson