For good reason, heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos will come in to his May 26 bout with Frank Mir as the heavy favorite. The amiable Brazilian juggernaut has hardly seen trouble throughout his eight UFC bouts. He’s stopped six of his eight foes using his lethal boxing, having thus far been able to stifle any grapplers.
However, Frank Mir may provide Dos Santos' toughest test to date.
Mir’s grappling is slept on, but it’s truly special. He’s the all-time leader in submission victories for a heavyweight in the UFC with eight. Further to the point, Mir recently took home the right arm of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner MMA has ever seen in Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
As a Brazilian, Dos Santos is practically obligated to train BJJ extensively, but we have yet to see his prowess on the ground in the UFC. It’s probably safe to say his ground game doesn’t sparkle as brightly as Mir’s, who’s also forced notable heavyweights Cheick Kongo and Brock Lesnar to tap furiously.
Sure, Mir won’t have the easiest time getting inside of Dos Santos’ range and taking this fight to the ground, but exactly how great is the champion’s takedown defense? His fight with esteemed wrestler Cain Velasquez was over before Cain could work his takedowns. NCAA Division II wrestler Shane Carwin was content to waddle on the outside of Dos Santos’ range and let his face become Swiss cheese, but even a battered Carwin was successful with a takedown attempt late in that fight.
Mir doesn’t pose the most clever takedowns and he doesn’t have the best chin, but through suffocating pressure and tenacity he may be able to get this fight to the ground and showcase his superior grappling acumen.
Fans have written off Frank Mir’s chances in this fight, but his ground game might just be Dos Santos’ kryptonite. There's good value to be had with a bet on Mir.
Frank Mir leads UFC heavyweights in all-time wins with 14.