When talking about fighters who excel at promoting fights, MMA fans usually mention Chael Sonnen. But a fighter who doesn’t get enough praise in the fine art of selling fights is Frank Mir, who faces Daniel Cormier at UFC on Fox 7 on Saturday. Mir knows a thing or two about selling fights, having been in the main event of the biggest pay-per-view card in UFC history, UFC 100 vs. Brock Lesnar.
Mir doesn’t use the WWE style or go over the top. He simply says exactly what he feels about his adversary. It’s not so much talking trash as much as it is an articulate, honest and matter-of-fact assessment of a particular matchup.
As a former WEC color commentator, Mir reports his advantages and disadvantages as smoothly as any expert analyst on a pre-fight show. He doesn’t necessarily throw around a barrage of verbal insults, but he won’t hesitate to make a certain fighter's weakness a point of topic. He also doesn’t shy away from discussing his own.
The former UFC heavyweight champion isn’t one to spare words or shy away from saying what he can do to an opponent. As an almost 12-year veteran of the UFC, he has traveled a road filled with peaks and valleys and has experienced everything a fighter can in MMA.
He was around in the days when fight cards had nicknames, such as his debut at UFC 34: High Voltage. He has witnessed more than 10 UFC heavyweight champions and has seen countless others vanish from the division. He almost joined them after a serious motorcycle accident nearly cost him his career.
Competing on the world’s biggest stage of MMA, fighting in five title fights, continuing to face top-level competition and remaining relevant at his age in the heavyweight division are no small feats. They have earned him the right to speak, but can he back up his words this time around when he faces Cormier at UFC on Fox 7?
Without a doubt, he can. Mir may be a +325 underdog going into this fight (according to Bovada), but he has plenty of advantages over Cormier. He not only has the edge in experience against UFC-level competition, he will also enter the Octagon five inches taller than Cormier, with an eight-inch reach advantage and a 20-pound weight advantage.
It goes without saying that Mir can walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to applying his Brazilian jiu-jitsu acumen to any fight. He is as comfortable on the ground as he is breathing.
The Las Vegas native owns the record for most submission wins in the UFC with eight. Along with those eight submissions have come three broken arms, two by armbar and one by a kimura. The last of those was suffered by Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira—who was given the edge on the ground in that fight by many experts.
Yes, Daniel Cormier has Olympic-caliber wrestling, but if the fight goes to the ground, he is not going to be in a good place. Dealing with Mir’s guard can be like walking into a hornet's nest.
Many will favor Cormier should these two combatants end up in the clinch. Maybe so wrestling-wise, but Mir has the ability to throw fight-ending knees from the clinch, as evident in his KO win over Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović at UFC 119.
Most people see Cormier having the distinct advantage in the stand-up striking department. Mir has gotten caught before, yet so have many heavyweights. Junior dos Santos made Mir look silly at UFC 146, but Cormier is not on dos Santos’ level. Cormier does have heavy hands and can certainly catch Mir, hurt him and end his night early.
However, Mir has that ability as well, and he will have a considerable reach advantage. If he does win the fight, it probably won’t be with a knockout, but that doesn’t mean he can’t hold his own in the stand-up.
Cormier trains at one of the best camps in MMA, at the American Kickboxing Academy with current UFC heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez. Before this fight camp, we could not say the same about Mir, but now that he has joined the highly praised Jackson’s MMA Gym, we can.
Mir needed to get out of his element and make adjustments to improve himself after last year’s loss to dos Santos. He now has training partners like Jon Jones, Travis Browne and Andrei Arlovski as well as one of the smartest game planners in the business in Greg Jackson. This could prove to be the difference in the fight and push Mir to a victory on Saturday night.
Mir has fought the best of the best for almost 12 years. He has faced Lesnar, Shane Carwin, Nogueira and the best in the division. Cormier has not.
Cormier's toughest opponents have been Josh Barnett and Antonio Silva; the rest of his resume is littered with names like Dion Staring, Devin Cole and Gary Frazier. Not to mention, his first fight in the UFC will be Mir's 21st.
Cormier is the favorite. He called out Mir and then called out Jon Jones as if beating Mir were inevitable. The pressure is squarely on his shoulders. Mir will be in a place where he’s been 20 times before and will be comfortable.
The time for talking will be over on Saturday night. Mir has said plenty and will prove he can back it up.