UFC 119 Preview: The Main Card

Mir vs. Cro Cop

Sep 22, 2010
Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic file photo: Dave Mandel | Sherdog.com

I don’t much care for main events. They’re often overhyped and anticlimactic, which essentially defeats the purpose of a main event.

UFC 119 has been batted around a bit because a headliner between Frank Mir and Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic isn’t all that relevant in the current heavyweight division, and there is no argument to be made against that stance.

Then again, the main card has five fights any fan worth his or her salt wants to see whether it be for nostalgic thrill or stylistic gold. Here to cut through all the nonsense and deliver the goods is the same guy coming off a disastrous night of picks for UFC Fight Night 22.

Of course, that means only one thing … I’m due for a good performance, right?

Follow Tomas Rios as he religiously defends his still excellent record of fight picks on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Tomas_Rios

Frank Mir vs. Mirko Filipovic

Considering that both Mir and Filipovic are notorious frontrunners, there are only two realistic outcomes for this fight. Either one of them puts together some big offense early and ends the fight right there or it turns into an ugly game of survival between two men who are fighting a fair bit heavier than they should be.

While the publicized dynamic of this fight is one of striker vs. grappler, it actually goes much deeper than that given the intellectual bent in Mir’s fighting style. Against Cheick Kongo he had the foresight to know he could get off some offense on the feet if Kongo came out too concerned with defending his takedowns. That’s a level of strategy that Filipovic has never embraced, and with time he has only become more prone to fighting to his own detriment.

After all, it took some desperate pleading from his corner for Filipovic to throw his vaunted left high kick at Pat Barry. Sure enough, the fight turned around as soon as he did. Of course, that was preceded by five minutes of unvarnished beatdown. Mir may occasionally overthink his approach and fall flat on his face, but if Filipovic comes out flat, he’s not going to last long enough to put together a rally.

Way back in the day, Filipovic’s sprawl was enough to stuff most any takedown. The level of wrestling even in the thin heavyweight division has increased dramatically since then, though, and his athleticism hasn’t held up over time. That pancake sprawl was a function of his now faded athleticism, and he doesn’t have the technique to make up for it. Further complicating matters is that he doesn’t use his boxing as well as he used to.

When Filipovic is putting his hands together it becomes very clear very fast that he still has the timing and technique to beat someone of Mir’s caliber. However, much like his kicks, his boxing is a weapon he doesn’t use anywhere near enough. If Filipovic does come out committed to throwing strikes, there is a great chance he lands one cleanly and Mir falls apart as he so often does when he gets hit hard.

Then again, should Mir get his hands on Filipovic and drag him down, the fight basically turns even more one-sided than it is on the feet. Because of the striker-heavy nature of the heavyweight division, Filipovic has only had to work on the floor a few times. Against anyone with real skill he has struggled mightily. Given Mir’s penchant for locking up submissions early, a single first-round takedown is likely all that separates him from a no-fuss win.

However, just as Filipovic so often fails to let his limbs do what they do best, Mir often fails to realize he is and always will be a grappler first. That wouldn’t be such a problem if Mir had the ability to absorb punishment, but that’s just not the case. Granted, most anyone would fall apart if Shane Carwin hit them clean even once, but Mir also got tagged up by Marcio Cruz. Even imagining what would happen if Filipovic hit him has the feel of a Clive Barker novel.

For all the attempts at technical insight out there on this bout, there is simply no way anyone can have a real feel for how this fight will go. Both fighters are too prone to either fighting to their own detriment or simply fighting with some terrible excuse for strategy. Keeping that in mind, I think Mir will test his luck on the feet for a bit and end up splayed out on the canvas. Just by thinking that, I think I may have guaranteed Mir a first-round submission win, but I’m sticking by the Croatian Jack Bauer for once.
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