UFC111 - Frank Mir v Shane Carwin - Heavyweight fight
UFC old hand Frank Mir will take on Shane Carwin in a highly anticipated match up for the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship and a future shot at current champion and UFC superstar, Brock Lesnar.
As the octagon veteran, with a 13-4 record, and twice UFC Heavyweight Champion, Frank Mir is a slight favourite to take this fight, with a price of 8/13 available. Following a devastating loss to Brock Lesnar for the championship at UFC 100, Mir was determined to avoid being physically dominated, beaten and berated by larger opponents and dedicated himself to a regime of strength training under the tutelage of former Strongman contender Mark Philippi. Frank Mir 2.0 debuted at UFC 107, showing a gain of around 20lbs of muscle, which he put to good effect in blasting through perennial UFC top 10 HW, Cheick Kongo.
Mir did show some improved striking in his bout with Kongo, building on the standup victory over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, as well as the strength based BJJ game that has become somewhat of his signature in a number of his UFC victories. Mir also has tremendous confidence, that allows him to feel comfortable in all situations within the octagon but he does have some deficiencies which can be exploited by his opponents and Mir's main weakness is his takedown defence.
Shane Carwin has amassed an impressive 11-0 record, with all three of his UFC wins coming by way of knockout but will be the underdog against the former champ, being available at 6/5. During these three fights, Carwin has spent a grand total of 3 minutes and 24 seconds in the octagon while managing to dispatch his opponents with a show of true, face melting power.
To add to this enormous, natural striking power, Shane Carwin has a very solid wrestling pedigree, as a NCAA II Wrestling Heavyweight National Champion, along with with runner up awards. As well as this pedigree, Carwin also found time to become a two time All American in American Football, highlighting his excellent athletic background and potential to exploit a weakness in Mir's takedown defence.
In his last octagon visit, Carwin did show some vulnerability, against former number 1 contender Gabriel Gonzaga, who is an average striker with big power. Gonzaga managed to land three flush power shots on Carwin, leaving him requiring nose surgery, before taking Carwin to the mat and securing half guard. Despite the precarious position, with the decorated BJJ black belt having top control, Carwin showed impressive composure and powers of recovery, managing to regain his feet before landing a monumental one punch finish, with a huge overhand right to the jaw.
Following this win in March 2009, Carwin was scheduled to face Brock Lesnar in a title fight, pitting two men with gigantic hands against each other (Lesnar wears 3XL gloves, while Carwin squeezes in to 4XL gloves). However, Lesnar's well publicised bout with diverticulitis prevented this fight taking place, leading to this Interim Championship opportunity.
In this bout, I expect Mir to try and stand with Carwin, trusting that he has a technical advantage and showing confidence in his ability to land the overhand left hand that was potent against both Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Cheick Kongo, while remaining comfortable enough in his ground game to work from the bottom for submissions if Carwin does work for takedowns.
However, I feel that there is value in the underdog in this bout, as Carwin has the attributes that have proved to be kryptonite to Mir; he has shown a propensity to crumble after getting hit hard and, arguably, no-one hits harder than Carwin in the current HW division. Secondly, Carwin has the option to use his wrestling acumen to take Mir down and look to win the fight via heavy ground and pound, as Mir has also shown he can be defeated by a strong wrestler. This is a five round championship fight but there is very little chance that this fight will go the distance.
Frank Mir has stated on numerous occasions that he is obsessed with beating Brock Lesnar. Unfortunately for him, I see him being beaten by another strong wrestler, with Carwin using his ability to control whether the fight remains a standup battle or a ground war, while eventually finding a home for that monster right hand and turning out the lights for Frank Mir 2.0.
With thanks to Mark Powell for contributing to this article.