UFC 119 Preview – Mirko Cro Cop Vs. Frank Mir
Realistically, we could’ve previewed every single fight on the main card. They’re all interesting. But then again, this post would go on forever. Instead, we decided to review the top two matches.
The FGB crew, along with Stevie J from Angry Marks and Ryan Frederick, ryanjfrederick on Twitter and member of the F4W Board~!, are here with predictions for the top two fights on the card.
Ryan Bader vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Duan: Nogueira by 2nd round TKO
Alan: Nogueira by 2nd submission
Stevie J: Bader by 1st round TKO
Ryan: Bader by decision
Cactus Jim: Nogueira by 2nd round submission
GG: Nogueira by 2nd round submission
Nog is the better skilled and more rounded fighter of the two. The trouble is in the current MMA climate it’s often not the better fighter, but the better wrestler, that comes up trumps. And Bader certainly has a decisive edge in that department. For that reason I’m more than a little apprehensive about me pick. This should be an absolute no brainer. Nogueira should win this fight, and that’s who I’m going with. Bader is one dimensional wrestler with no big fight experience. Common sense suggests that he can’t compete on the feet or the mat. It shouldn’t even be a contest. Yet, I’m almost expecting to be wrong on this one.
Mike Coughlin put it best when he said this was a match between the prototypical American with awesome wrestling and “developing” striking and grappling skills, and the prototypical non-American with very good standup, very good grappling and no wrestling. WIth that in mind, a victory here will go along way to establishing just how good in the realm of the UFC LHW division the victor is. If Lil’ Nog can see off Bader, he shouldn’t have any problems with the countless other guys with similar skillsets. Similarly if Bader can see of Nog, he could make a case for being able to handle the Machida’s and Rua’ s – the real elite guys. So what I’m getting at is that I’m VERY interested in the outcome here. Two outcomes stand out to me as very likely – Nog catching one of Bader’s freakishly long arms in an armbar, or Bader getting a decision. I’d bet my hat on one of those two things happening. As for which one … it’s a coin toss but I’ll go with the one that’ll make me seem like a better prognosticator if I’m correct – the Nog armbar. And we’ll say Round 2.
Stevie J says:
The lesser known Nog is incredibly overrated, and to be quite honest won a fight against Jason Brilz he should have lost. People have tagged this guy as a future LHW champion and I don’t know why. Bader has a lot more promise out of the two and he’s a lot more exciting out of the two. Bader’s lack of big fight experience at the top of a card is the only thing that holds him back – well except for winning a TUF contract during an Ultimate Finale. Is that considered a big fight? In some respects but it doesn’t compare to co-main eventing a PPV, where people may actually be buying it to see you, as opposed to watching you for free on Spike. I think Bader can handle the pressure though and prove that Nog really isn’t all that hot (sorry Joe Rogan).
Lil Nog had a lot of trouble against the wrestling of Jason Brilz at UFC 114, and Bader is many classes ahead of Brilz in the wrestling department. Bader is considered the future of the light heavyweight division along with Jon Jones and Phil Davis, and has been nothing short of impressive since winning The Ultimate Fighter. I think Bader will try to take this to the ground and control the positioning despite Lil Nog being a BJJ black belt, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see a standup fight the majority of the fight. Ultimately, I see this one going to the judges and Bader taking the decision, though I think this fight will be really good.
Nog has better striking and BJJ. Bader is the better wrestler. The trend these days is that solid wrestlers are able to control and win fights, but in this case, I think Nog’s jitz is going to come through for him. Bader will get the takedowns and lay on him, Nog will look for opportunities to grab an arm or a neck. I think before the end of the 2nd round that a relatively inexperienced Ryan Bader gases and leaves the much cagier Nogueira an opening that he’s able to capitalize on.
I’m like Duan. I kind of expect to be wrong here. The major thing that stops me from taking Bader is because I think Lil’ Nog has something to prove after his terrible showing in his last fight. He didn’t look like a world beater and also looked very vulnerable. However, I think the savvy vet goads the rookie into sticking his arm in somewhere it shouldn’t go, and will get a surprise submission. I fully expect Bader to dominate and get caught.
Mirko Cro Cop vs. Frank Mir
Duan: Cro Cop by 2nd round TKO
Alan: Cro Cop by 2nd round TKO
Stevie J: Mir by 2nd round submission
Ryan: Mir by 2nd round TKO
Cactus Jim: Cro Cop by 3rd round TKO
GG: Mir by 2nd round TKO
There’s one golden rule I stand by above all others when it comes to predicting MMA: always bet against Frank Mir in everything. It’s a strategy which has made me a hat full of money in recent times, and long may it continue.
I keep telling you that this is the same guy who got mauled by Brandon Vera and Marcio Cruz. He’s not a top fighter or anywhere near it. He had a run of luck, that is it. Believe me, picking Mirko Cro Cop to win in 2010 is not something I do lightly. Sure he’s washed up, and has looked terrible throughout his UFC tenure, but I still think there’s enough left in him to take out Mir. The one part of the Croatian’s game which has looked relatively decent of recent is his take down defense. If he keeps it on the feet, he takes Mir apart. Mir will want out of there by the end of the second round.
A battle of guys I ALWAYS pick against, so I’m somewhat torn. I can say alot of negative things about this match, but in my heart of hearts I can’t say I’m not looking forward to seeing how it plays out. Can Mir use his unorthodox takedowns successfully against Mirko’s stellar takedown defense? Can Mirko muster up striking at even half the level of his peak days, and thus totally outclass Frank on the feet? Can Cro Cop survive Mir’s jiu-jitsu? Of those three questions I think the most definitive are the first and the last – I don’t think Mirko can survive the BJJ, but I also don’t think Frank will get him down (at least consistently). With those two aspects neutralising each other, it comes down to the middle question – Cro Cop’s striking. Right now I do expect Mir to get lit up and finished, however I can definitely see a scenario where a slow, sluggish Mirko allows Mir to gain confidence on the feet that he should not by any right have and make this more competitive standing than it should be.
But I’ll go with my expectation – Mirko, Round 2 TKO (right hand knockown, punches on the ground finish it).
Stevie J says:
I don’t expect Mir to get in a slugfest here. He needs a win to get back on track. Sure Cro Cop got a win over the (somewhat unexperienced) ‘HD’ phenom, but that was largely because he showed Cro Cop too much respect and made too many mistakes. Mir as a veteran will do neither. Cro Cop proved he can at least be a threat on the ground, but even if you don’t like Mir or think much of him he’s shown that other than Werdum he might be the best BJJ heavyweight in MMA. Cro Cop is a draw, but he’s also past his prime in a lot of ways. Mir shouldn’t have any trouble catching him.
I believe the injury sustained by Cro Cop really changes this fight. Cro Cop will probably be a little more tentative to engage as much for fear of Mir exploiting the injury. Definitely an interesting fight, and Mir will probably try to keep the fight standing despite him being much better on the ground. Ultimately I feel that the eye injury that Crocop has will come into play and Mir will find a way to ground and pound him to a stoppage in the second round barring a verbal submission by Crocop like in his fight against Junior Dos Santos.
Cactus Jim says:
Frank Mir can get as fat or as ripped as he wants, either way he’s not a top level fighter. Cro Cop was a top fighter a number of years ago, but hasn’t been impressive in quite some time. In this bout I think Mirko still has enough left to keep it on the feet and to take anything Mir can throw at him. He withstood the heavy punching of Pat Barry and hung in. He’ll do the same with Mir. Frank on the other hand has not been able to withstand a solid exchange and will most likely find himself in a pile on the floor and then be banished to the WEC announcing table moving forward. That’s provided that his head doesn’t land somewhere in the 3rd row. In my opinion, Frank at the announcing table and not in the ring is not a bad thing.
It would warm my heart to see Mirko Cro Cop win this fight. I would love to see him continue this mini-comeback. But I just think that if Mir fights a smart fight, he wins it and probably in boring fashion. But if Mir decides that he wants to show off a well-rounded game, he could get his head kicked off. I think he’ll test Mirko in the first round and then fight his fight in the second round.
There you have it. Should be a fun night of fights.
We’ll be back Saturday with play by play of the event.
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