Former heavyweight champion Frank Mir is never a fighter who’s at a loss for words, and with his upcoming fight with Cheick Kongo at UFC 107 only weeks away, he’s been only to happy to discuss his strategy with the media.
On paper this fight seems to heavily favor Mir due to Cheick Kongo’s biggest weakness – his ground game – being his opponents greatest strength. As a result many people have already predicted that Mir will earn an early submission victory.
It is interesting to note however that Mir’s own thoughts on his strategy going into the fight on December 12th appear to stray from this blueprint for success. Look at a recent comment he made in an interview with cagereport.net for instance.
“I wasn’t supposed to beat Nogueira standing and look what happened there. I’m confident that I can strike with Cheick [Kongo] and make it competitive, my punches are a lot quicker than his, plus I know how to work angles better, trust me I know how to shut guys off,” the 30 year old says.
“The thing is if I were to go out there and submit him in less than a minute It would prove nothing, a true martial artist would want to challenge himself and the challenge presented in front of me right now is to out-strike someone who on paper is the better striker.”
Such a strategy would undoubtedly be a surprise to many, including myself. If Mir does have any lingering desire to prove that out-striking Nogueira was no fluke then this is not the fight to do it. To date thirteen of Cheick Kongo’s nineteen victories have finished by way of knockout and he only requires one clean strike to end the fight.
Mir would do well to remind himself of the vicious knockout another BJJ stylist, Demian Maia, suffered when he chose to ignore his core skills and instead attempted to showcase his striking against Nate Marquardt at UFC 102.
With that said, Is Mir telling the whole truth here or is he simply playing mind games? Will he really look to stand with a dangerous striker like Kongo and risk defeat?
I think it unlikely, and if you compare the above comment with quotes from his new video interview that can be found at UFC.com you will see him give a slightly different outlook on the fight.
- “I don’t really have anything to prove by standing up with him, but that’s where he could do the most damage in the fight.”
- “If I grab him and take him to the ground I think that definitely plays into my advantage to win the fight more-so than trying to stand up and have a boxing match with him.”
- “Eventually from in the clinch we’ll get the takedown. Am I going to get it in the first thirty seconds? Probably not, you know, if I force it – that’s when I’m going to get hurt…but y’know, it’s a 15 minute fight and I hope to only have to take him down one time and then that’ll be the end of the fight.”
This would seem to be the more likely, and sensible strategy – to stand and trade with Kongo just long enough to find an opportunity to score the takedown and work for a submission.
Such a strategy would have wider benefits than just another win on his record. With Brock Lesnar currently out indefinitely with Diverticulitis and several other contenders in the division injured, the UFC is in need of healthy heavyweights. If Mir can end this fight in short order and emerge relatively unscathed then that puts him in a good place in the division going into the early months of next year – particularly if the rumored interim title were to be given the green light.
With Cain Velasquez and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira set to fight in the Spring, the current top contender Shane Carwin is without an opponent for his expected return in February / March. A 100% healthy Mir could take that spot, and a win there would put him within touching distance of either a rematch with Lesnar, or if he is still recovering, then a battle for either the interim belt or the No.1 contender spot with the winner of Velasquez – Nogueira.
None of this is guaranteed of course, but it seems unlikely that Mir would jeopardize this opportunity by standing with Kongo and risking either a loss or an injury. At the same it shouldn’t be forgotten that in this day and age fighters are feeling the pressure to put on an entertaining fight, rather than focusing purely on winning, as we discussed in a previous article.
I still believe this one will end with a quick submission victory for Mir, but there will now be a slight element of doubt. Until he steps into the cage against Kongo on the 12th of December in Memphis, Tennessee, we won’t know for sure exactly how Frank Mir is going to approach the fight – and perhaps that’s exactly the way he wants it to be.
Article By RossC