It continues to be a stellar month of MMA and coming up this weekend, UFC 164 and with it a much anticipated bout between Frank Mir & Josh Barnett.
Both fighters have die-hard fans that are as excited about this fight, as they are the top-of-the-card match between Ben Henderson & Anthony Pettis. Many have wondered about this fight for years and this Saturday, they’ll finally get to see its outcome.
For Barnett it’s a fresh start in an old home. For Mir, it’s a chance to cut the newcomer and returning veteran off at the pass, and prevent Barnett from climbing the heavyweight ranks at his expense.
However and for Mir, it’s about more than just trying to stem Barnett’s tide.
Where “The Warmaster” could easily take a loss to Mir, the reverse cannot be said of Frank. He enters the fight on a 2 fight losing streak and he needs the win. I doubt that a loss gets him cut, but it would probably put him on the precipice of it and it would certainly shove him down the heavyweight rankings ladder. Moreover, it would not bode well for the continuation of his career.
From a practical stand-point, this is Mir’s 2nd fight since joining Greg Jackson’s team and it’s time to demonstrate what’s been gained while under his tutelage. In his last bout and his first based out of Jackson’s Albuquerque camp, Mir looked to be in great shape and even performed well at the top of round 1. However, Frank proved to be no match for the wrestling expertise and power of Daniel Cormier and subsequently, he took a unanimous decision loss after having been shoved around and controlled for 3 rounds.
This is the fight in which Mir must showcase any changes that Jackson has been able to add to or coax out of, Frank’s skills set. If there is a new and improved Frank Mir out there, then now is the time to demonstrate it.
On the other side of the cage though will be Josh Barnett and he looks to be eminently confident. Josh wanted this fight and he seems to think that Mir is just some road-apple waiting to be squashed, new coach or otherwise. On this point, Barnett thinks he has to tools not just beat Mir, but to “completely destroy him.”
However and in return, Mir doesn’t seem to have a lot of respect for Barnett’s game either and doesn’t believe his skills have evolved in 10 years.
This should be a great fight and one with some real old-school flavor to it. On one hand I’d like to see Mir stand and trade with Barnett, so as to gauge his stand-up skills and whether or not they’ve improved. On the other hand, it would be great to see these two submission masters trying to prove who’s the more dominant on the ground. All in all, it should be a great lead-in-bout to Henderson / Pettis.