Win or lose, Daniel Cormier may downshift to 205 pounds. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Frank Mir (16-6, 14-6 UFC) vs. Daniel Cormier (11-0, 0-0 UFC)
The Matchup: A cross-promotional showdown that was originally expected to take place under the Strikeforce banner in November instead gets a larger network television audience for Cormier’s Octagon debut. Depending on future events, it could very well be a one-and-done stint at heavyweight for the American Kickboxing Academy product. Teammate Cain Velasquez still reigns in the division, and Cormier could be tempted to test the waters at 205 pounds as a result, regardless of how he fares against Mir.
A savvy veteran with a wealth of big-fight experience, Mir opted to change things up for his current camp, spending a significant amount of time training at Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts. Mir is an intelligent fighter on his own, and joining forces with one of the sport’s most respected camps can only serve to enhance his fight night strategy. However, the former heavyweight champion’s weaknesses were on full display at UFC 146, where he was left to dive desperately for Junior dos Santos’ legs in hopes of avoiding lopsided exchanges on the feet. His efforts proved futile, as dos Santos won via second-round technical knockout.
Mir has improved his standup over the years, but his guard and crafty submission game remain his strong suit. His ability to maintain composure when dazed means he is never completely out of a fight, especially when an overeager foe elects to follow him to the mat in pursuit of a finish.
Considering Mir’s tendency to get rocked by heavy-handed foes, Cormier could elect to keep the majority of the bout standing, as he has shown knockout power and an ability to get inside on rangier opponents with quick combinations. Although Cormier is one of the best wrestlers in the sport today, shooting for takedowns figures to give Mir a better chance at an upset. The Las Vegas resident is adept at taking advantage of the smallest of openings, and he might even attempt to pull guard in hopes of luring Cormier into his comfort zone. The prospect of Mir initiating a takedown is unlikely, as Cormier can use his defensive wrestling to dictate the location of the bout. In eight Strikeforce appearances, Cormier was never taken down.
If Mir attempts to force his way into tie-up range in hopes of executing an outside trip, he risks being victimized by a highlight-reel slam. Even if Mir is able to force some type of scramble on the floor, there is no guarantee he will be able to catch Cormier in a submission. In May, the former Oklahoma State University wrestler defended himself well against Josh Barnett, another renowned grappler.
The Pick: Mir will be unable to take down Cormier, which will draw him into dangerous exchanges. Eventually, a hook or uppercut rocks Mir, and Cormier finishes the job with follow-up strikes in the first or second round.
Next Fight » Nate Diaz vs. Josh Thomson