Because of the constant evolution and progression of the mixed martial artists in our sport, it is rare that we are treated to a match up between two fighters who are highly accomplished in the same discipline.
In this scenario the two fighters have already met once before: A jiu-jitsu grappling match in 2003. The two were very young and had barely scratched the surface of their early and already promising MMA careers.
In a little more than two weeks at UFC 130: "Rampage vs. Hamill," which will be held on May 28, 2011, from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, two heavyweight contenders will square off again in a rematch eight years in the making.
Only this time the implications of the bout will be far larger ... as will the stage they fight on.
For more on the bout between former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir and Roy Nelson, as well as their entertaining grappling clash years ago, follow me after the jump:
In the co main event at UFC 130, two heavyweights will have their chance to cement themselves as legitimate contenders in a very shallow division that only becomes more thin at the top of the ladder.
With champion Cain Velasquez out until late 2011, top contenders Junior dos Santos and
Brock Lesnar Shane Carwin will meet this summer for the first crack at Velasquez and his new heavyweight title. That leaves the division seeking contenders.
Both Mir and Nelson have each lost to one of the top contenders, Lesnar and dos Santos, respectively. However, their trajectories up the ladder toward a shot have been vastly different.
Mir, a former two-time world champion, will look to continue his winning ways, while perennial contender Roy Nelson looks to get back in the win column.
Frank Mir has fought all but two of his 19 career fights inside the Octagon and has a respectable 14-5 record. He has experienced a roller coaster ride as of late, going 5-2 since 2007. It's a span that has seen Mir tapout Brock Lesnar at UFC 81 to become the number one contender and later go on to defeat Antonio Rodrigo "Minatauro" Nogeuira to earn the heavyweight belt for the second time in his career.
He is currently coming off a victory over legendary kickboxer Mirko Cro Cop in which he displayed his striking throughout the bout.
Mir is a blackbelt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Ricardo Pires, starting his career on a blaze with notable submission victories over Roberto Traven and Tim Sylvia (For a FanPost of his notable submissions click here). He further enhanced his training by joining up with Mark Dellagrotte and jiu-jitsu phenom Robert Drysdale.
Nelson, best known for his physical appearance, which is focused around a large belly -- a trait not often shared by pro athletes -- has been a heavyweight journeyman early in his career before joining "The Ultimate Fighter" show on Spike TV.
At 15-5 and winning seven of his last nine fights, including his current two-fight win streak, Nelson has been in the ring with notable heavyweights such as Jeff Monson, Stefan Struve, Ben Rothwell and Junior dos Santos. While being a brink top heavyweight, Nelson has gained not only a fan base, but a following of people who think he has what it takes to be a champion.
Nelson is also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu blackbelt under Renzo Gracie.
The two heavyweights will be staring at familiar faces when the cage door closes at UFC 130. That's because the pair first met in a high stakes grappling match at Grappler's Quest eight years ago.
Let's take a look at some highlights.
(All gifs were provided by Zombie Prophet, a MMA poster who operates a website that specializes in gifs after big MMA events.)
What you may see initially is that Roy Nelson is not as round is he is today and Frank Mir looks much more physically imposing. The clip is great if you love scrambles.You initially see Frank Mir in side control and rolling up toward north-south, while Roy begins to slide to escape.
Nelson is very slick in escaping out the back door on Mir; however, Mir is very keen to what is happening.
Mir postures over and stacks the legs of Nelson to keep him off balance. He puts his weight forward and slides his body into side control. While trying for an underhook on the leg of Nelson, Nelson begins to scramble again.
Only this time Mir uses his agility to allow the roll attempt by Nelson and slides right into back mount.
In this clip Frank once again is on top in half guard. As Nelson begins to "buck" himself from underneath Mir, he reaches under the thigh of the wide-based legs of Mir and attempts to sweep.
However, that wide base makes it very difficult to do so. Mir stays heavy and balanced and remains in top position.
Nelson also has a variation of Eddie Bravo's lockdown on the right leg of Mir. He is not torquing it, but the foot position is the same. This sweep in all likelihood works against guys not at the elite level that Frank is at. Also, be aware that in jiu-jitsu competitions point scoring is key.
Scoring points with sweeps and reversals played a huge role in the match, as well as transitions to dominant positions.
This is the first real standing grappling we have seen thus far, scrambling from the sprawl position Mir is taken down by Nelson and his body lock. While rising to their feet, you see Mir attack high and Nelson attack low. In this takedown, Nelson uses Mir's momentum to reverse him and gain top position.
Notice how low Nelson stays on the way down to remain dominant with leverage. Finally, with some dominant control, it is time for Nelson to be more aggressive.
With Nelson working from half guard, the nimble grappler isolates Mir's left leg and spins over his body for a leg lock. Unfortunately for Nelson, Mir rolls with him and quickly saves his leg from danger. He now has trapped Nelson's leg between his own and begins to work from half guard.
Note that Nelson had top control and used a very high-risk transition to get a submission. That risky move proved to be the wrong one, as he was reversed and Mir was awarded the position.
Now it gets exciting.
Mir rolls from inside his deep half guard to end up in bottom position. While rolling, you can see Mir isolate and attack Nelson's arm. He immediately clasps his legs over Nelson's body to finish the armbar, but Nelson stays tight to the body and does not let his shoulders hit the mat.
He works through the armbar and slides through the legs and into side control. Now in dominant position, Nelson looks to maintain.
The submission, while appearing deep, was well defended by Nelson. He never allowed Mir to extend out and push his hips forward. By doing so, he was able to fight for control of the arm with FMir, ultimately winning and gaining points in the process.
With Nelson in dominant position and with the match coming to an end, he goes from half guard to side mount, using his free leg to push off and create separation from Mir's tightened legs. He remains in side control as Mir puts his hips toward his left side. Nelson uses that as a opportunity to throw his leg over to gain mount and score even more points.
Nelson, while in the mount, stays heavy in the high chest area of Mir. He essentially smothers him to end the match.
If the fight goes to the ground in the MMA bout, striking will change everything; however, this video is a good indicator as to the high level of grappling both possess. In the end, it will be which fighter has evolved the most.
And if both fighters have progressed at the same rate in mixed martial arts Roy Nelson will still have the grappling advantage over Mir in the co main event at UFC 130.