• UFC 169 Preview: Frank Mir vs. Alistair Overeem

  • On Saturday night, two of the most recognisable names in the history of the Heavyweight division square off in what is being billed as a must win scenario for both.

    In days gone by, Frank Mir and Alistair Overeem were at the pinnacle of the Heavyweight division despite competing in different organisations for a long period of time. As such, it’s somewhat of a shame for these two to finally cross paths under these circumstances, as it could truly be the end for one of these legends of the division.

    In December 2011, Alistair Overeem entered the UFC with much speculation about his ability and physique. In a few short years, he had gone from a skinny Dutch kid fighting in Pride to an intimidating figure that for a long time seemed near unstoppable.

    Following his loss to Sergei Kharitonov in September 2007, Overeem went on a streak of 10 consecutive wins in MMA, beating the likes of Gary Goodridge, Brett Rogers, Fabricio Werdum and most notably Brock Lesnar. What is even more impressive is that at the same time Overeem was participating in K1 on a frequent basis and managed to win the K1 World Grand Prix in 2010 along the way.

    Meanwhile, Frank Mir was rebuilding his body and reputation inside the UFC following a horrific motorcycle accident that nearly ended his career.  After an understandably slow start upon his return to the Octagon, he began to gain momentum. Like Overeem, it was his victory over Brock Lesnar that stands out as a landmark moment which gave him a launch pad on his way to capturing the interim UFC title, beating Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

    The current position of these two fighters is made clear by the position of this fight on the fight card itself. It is rare that a fight involving either of these two would not be the main event or at least the co-main event, but instead they are slated as the third fight of the main card, thanks to the two title fights taking place.

    Overall, it is perhaps unfair to label this fight as a win at all costs type fight given the losses both men have suffered have come against the absolute best in the Heavyweight division.  As we know with the Heavyweight division, anything can happen in the blink of an eye.

    It is clear that Overeem was destroying Travis Browne for a large portion of their fight before “punching himself out” and allowing Browne to recover and end the fight himself. The fact that we now see Travis Browne scheduled to fight for the number one contender spot is evidence enough of the talents of Overeem and whilst his results on paper may not look favourable, he can still be a force inside the Octagon.

    Frank Mir similarly has been beaten by only top contenders, but has looked less impressive in the process. His lackluster performance against Daniel Cormier and his poor showing against Josh Barnett means this fight is much more significant for Mir’s future than his opponent Overeem.

    In terms of skill set, it seems relatively clear cut that if the fight were to stay on the feet then Alistair Overeem should have his way with Frank Mir. Overeem could find particular success in the clinch, just as Josh Barnett found in August at UFC 164. On the other hand, if the fight were to go to the ground at any point, the balance of power would immediately shift to Frank Mir who is all too happy to break a limb if given the opportunity.

    Given these opposing styles, the key to the fight will be who can be the best in the gray areas that are not so clearly dominated by one or the other. We have not seen particularly stellar wrestling from Frank Mir in the past, so it is unlikely that Overeem will need to prepare his takedown defense for the same kind of problems he would have anticipated in the build up to the Brock Lesnar fight. That is not to say that Overeem’s achilles heel (cardio) might not show up again and blow technique completely out of the window.

    Just as the balance of power would seem set to shift dependent upon where the fight takes place, the balance of power may also shift dependent upon how long the fight lasts. Frank Mir is not known for his endurance but training at Jackson’s MMA it would seem likely that Greg would be preparing Mir to at least test Overeem in this area given his issues in the past.

    The same can be said of Overeem’s preparations, they will no doubt have focused on Mir’s inability to prevent Josh Barnett from bullying him against the cage. In particular, Overeem will take heart from the fact that Mir was unable to avoid taking knees from Barnett in the clinch – an area Overeem has been particularly devastating in during his past fights. If Overeem can control Mir in the clinch and lean on him against the cage just as Barnett did, it could well be a short night for Mir as he is bound to feel first hand just how devastating Overeem’s knees can be.

    For the winner, we can expect critics to launch into prolonged praise and predictions of future title efforts whilst for the loser, it may be the end of the road for another historical MMA figure.

    About The Author – Greg Byron

    Greg started training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu after his brother introduced him to a local MMA fighter/coach when he was just 16 years old. Greg has trained for nearly a decade in both BJJ and MMA, competing in several grappling events within the UK. In addition to MMA, Greg possesses a law degree and works for a firm in northern part of England.

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