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UFC Fight Night 61 fight card: Frank Mir vs Antonio Silva fight preview

Frank Mir and Antonio Silva will attempt to get back into the win column TONIGHT (Feb. 22, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 61 inside the Ginasio Gigantinho in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Between two of the smoothest kickboxers in the division, what adjustments must be made for either man in order to claim victory? Find out below!

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweights Frank Mir and Antonio Silva will go to war TONIGHT (Feb. 22, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 61 on FOX Sports 1 inside Ginasio Gigantinho in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

On the tail end of a four-fight loss streak, Mir is in a very desperate position if he wishes to continue competing inside the Octagon. The former champion needs to beat the odds and "Bigfoot," otherwise his career as an active fighter is likely over.

Though it's not quite as terrible, Silva's position inside the heavyweight division is no longer that of contender. Since losing to Cain Velasquez for the second time, Silva failed a drug test against Mark Hunt and then was upset via knockout by Andrei Arlovski.

Let's take a look at the keys to victory for each fighter:

Frank Mir
Record:
16-9
Key Wins:
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (UFC 140, UFC 192), Roy Nelson (UFC 130), Brock Lesnar (UFC 81)
Key Losses:
Junior dos Santos (UFC 146), Josh Barnett (UFC 164), Alistair Overeem (UFC 169)
Keys to Victory:
Mir is one of the UFC's longest veterans. In fact, his UFC debut took place way back at UFC 34, a full four years before Antonio Silva fought professionally for the first time.

While his dangerous submission grappling is undoubtedly the best aspect of his game -- it's resulted in nine of his career victories -- Mir's been working on his kickboxing attack recently. Focusing mostly on his speed and straight strikes, Mir's recent style development could be very helpful in this bout.

Overall, "Bigfoot" has had a lot of difficulty with speed. Mir may not be the most agile fighter in heavyweight history, but if he looks to keep moving and attack with quick, long range strikes he could frustrate the Brazilian.

In that case, Mir could either line up a powerful overhand left, like the one that floored Cheick Kongo, or look for his takedowns. Silva is more than hittable, and Mir definitely has the submission edge, meaning either path could lead to success for the former champ.

The other benefit of Mir focusing on his quickness is that speed will make it more difficult for Silva to clinch up with Mir. Judging by Mir's history of getting beaten up against the fence by large heavyweights, it's very important that Mir keeps his back off the fence.

VS.

Antonio Silva
Record:
18-5 (1)
Key Wins:
Fedor Emelianenko (Strikeforce Fedor vs Silva), Travis Browne (UFC on FX 5), Alistair Overeem (UFC 156)
Key Losses:
Cain Velasquez (UFC 160, UFC 146), Fabricio Werdum (Strikeforce Fedor vs Rogers), Andrei Arlovski (UFC Fight Night 51)
Keys to Victory:
Silva is one of the most physically dominant heavyweights in the division. He cuts down to the heavyweight limit of 265 pounds and is a true monster with ground strikes if he's able to get on top of his opponent.

However, that's not entirely necessary in this bout. Considering Mir's submission prowess, taking Mir to the mat may not be the best idea. Silva is a jiu-jitsu black belt and definitely capable of grappling with Mir, but it's a case of unnecessarily playing with fire.

Instead, Silva can utilize his strength while eliminating the speed disadvantage by forcing Mir into the clinch and against the fence. With Mir's back to the cage, he cannot effectively strike, wrestle, or attack with submissions.

Plus, it's basically the most proven way to defeat Mir. The former champ simply does not react well when his back is on the fence, especially when he's put there by a stronger fighter. He generally just relaxes in that position, leaving him controlled to a decision loss or battered until the ref intervenes.

Considering how far Mir is into his career and how effective this strategy has repeatedly been, it's highly unlikely that Mir will suddenly develop a solution. So long as Silva sticks with this game plan -- which he largely employed against Andrei Arlovski in their first fight -- this is his bout to lose.

Bottom Line: Mir is a future hall of fame member, and this may be his last fight. Plus, Silva is on quite the downward spiral, so how he performs will likely indicate where his career will go from here.

With a victory, Mir secures his immediate future with the UFC if that's what he desires. Alternatively, Mir could retire on the heels of a top 10 victory, which would be an impressive end for the former champ.

Instead, a loss would likely lead Mir to one of the infamous "talks" with Dana White about his future, unless the submission specialist chooses to step down on his own terms. Either way, Mir has had a hell of a career, but his ability to impact the heavyweight division is gone.

The same cannot be said for Silva... yet. If "Bigfoot" defeats Mir in impressive -- and expected -- fashion, then he should go back to getting match ups with fighters in the bottom half of the top 10 or just outside.

If Silva falls to Mir, it's definitely a bad sign for his future. He obviously won't be cut from the promotion, but his remaining abilities in a post-TRT world will be seriously questioned.

Will Frank Mir go out with a bang or can Antonio Silva get his career back on track?

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