As we approach this holiday season, one can assume what UFC fighters Antonio Nogueira and Frank Mir are wishing for. While the world may be driving to shopping malls and waiting in long return lines after Christmas, Mixed Martial Arts fans will be tuning into watch one of the biggest UFC events to end 2008. As "Q" would say, this fight card is fully loaded.
The main event between Nogueira and Mir will be interesting because I think most people are betting on a submission match between two high level technicians. However, this fight might end up being a stand up battle to test who has the better chin.
Nogueira is a legend in MMA and in the grappling world. His most famous fights arguably have been against Mirko Crop Cop and Fedor Emelianenko back in Pride. Nogueira can take the fight standing, to the ground, and has shown the will to never surrender.
What Nogueira should focus on is Mir's conditioning and submission skills. Mir's fight with Antoni Hardonk was lackluster due to his conditioning, but his fight against Brock Lesnar showed Mir still has the skills to submit anyone at anytime.
I believe Nogueira can win this match by utilizing his stand up skills more than his ground game. Mir was easily beaten by Brandon Vera via TKO and Lesnar was dominating the fight with hammer fists and punches before he was caught in the knee bar. Nogueira can test Mr's chin and if it is anything like his previous fights, he can win by TKO or possibly a KO.
For Mir to win this fight, he has to shut down Nogueira's take down attempts and submissions. If Mir can bring the same mentality as his earlier UFC fights, he will have a strong chance of baiting Nogueira into the ground game by overpowering him with knees and elbows in the clinch.
Mir is younger, stronger, and from the looks of him on the Ultimate Fighter show, he's in better shape. He has to focus on conditioning to succeed against Nogueira. He did well to weather the storm against Lesnar, but Lesnar is not at the level of Nogueira. If the fight goes to the ground, Mir needs to work smart and fast. He has to look out for triangles, arm bars, and Anaconda chokes.
Of course, Mir knows all this but anything can happen inside the Octagon. I believe for Mir to win this fight, it will be with either ground and pound or judge's decision. It is possible for him to pull off a leg lock or heel hook on Nogueira, but if he misses, he will end up on his back with a dangerous submission artist on top.
If Mir can learn something from Nogueira's fight with Fedor, it is Nogueira's frustration of not being able to pull off any submission attempts or land any damaging strikes that mentally beat Nogueira. Fedor was never on his back. He was always attacking on top. Mir can win in the same fashion if he stays on top.
UFC 92 will be a night to remember for 2008. The fight card is filled with the top fighters in each weight class. MMA fans will find out on Dec. 27 if Christmas wishes really do come true.