Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight kingpin, Frank Mir, will take on athletic specimen, Todd Duffee, this Wednesday (July 15, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 71 inside Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California.
Just a few months ago, Frank Mir recovered from a terrible career slide by viciously knocking out Antonio Silva in just a few moments. Against the major prospect, Mir will look to continue building momentum and re-establish himself as a top Heavyweight.
When Duffee isn't struggling with injuries, he's generally destroying his opponents in absurd fashion. Of his nine knockout victories, just one escaped the first round. Hell, half of them were obliterated within the first minute.
Let's take a look at the skill set of each fighter and see how they match up:
Between the two men, Duffee is undoubtedly the more fearsome striker. However, it's not really because of any complicated technique or experience advantage, Duffee simply hits with incredible power. Combined with good speed and reactions, that makes him an extremely dangerous heavyweight.
For the most part, Duffee goes to work with his violent 1-2. Duffee packs major power into both punches, and either can easily finish the fight. Because of that, exchanging with Duffee is a risky and intimidating prospect.
Once Duffee hurts his opponent, he'll open up with punches. While hunting for the finish, Duffee does a nice job firing punches around his opponents guard. Even with strikes that he doesn't rely on quite as often -- such as uppercuts -- Duffee can easily break his opponent down.
Finally, Duffee will occasionally work on the inside. He'll occasionally look for the double-collar tie, but Duffee mostly goes to work with his dirty boxing. This is an excellent game plan for him, as the monstrous heavyweight can generate power despite the short amount of distance.
On the other hand, Mir's striking game has always revolved more around distance and agility. He can definitely hit hard, but he's really trying to really on the technical aspect of his striking game, particularly now that he's late in his career.
Really, Mir seems to be relying and building on his karate background more than ever. From the outside, he bounces around before stepping forward with quick, straight punches. Afterwards, he'll retreat back to range and attempt to avoid any counter shots.
For a fighter without the best durability, it's a smart strategy.
Continuing with the karate influence on his attack, Mir is more active with his kicks. While he'll occasionally step hard into a body kick -- one of which clearly affected Cormier -- he's largely been shooting out fast kicks without much of a step.
Additionally, Mir is throwing a wider variety of kicks. He's occasionally throwing kicks off his lead leg and even attacked with a side kick against Overeem. Plus, he's following up these kicks with combinations of straight shots.
In another unique note, Mir -- a natural southpaw -- fought out of the orthodox stance in his last bout. Again, this change in strategy was to emphasize Mir's movement and quick punches. It worked out for Mir quite well, as a right hook off a jab slipped around "Bigfoot's" guard and knocked the giant out cold.
Defensively, Mir has always had an issue with being manhandled, both on the fence and the mat. Against an opponent as strong as Duffee, that could be a major issue for him, so he really needs to use his movement to avoid the fence.
Mir has never been the division's best wrestler, but he's always been a takedown threat. A fairly successful wrestler in high school, he won the state championship in his senior year and has also trained with top mixed martial arts (MMA) wrestlers for years.
The Nevada-native's best takedowns come from inside the clinch. While he usually looks for basic trips, Mir broke out some Judo against Roy Nelson. As "Big Country" looked to pressure Mir into the fence, Mir turned the big man's underhooks against him. By pressuring on his overhook, Mir could step across Nelson's body and toss him through the air.
In addition, Mir will also shoot for takedowns. Though he attempted a couple of single-leg takedowns against Junior dos Santos, Mir mostly sticks to his double leg. Against Alistair Overeem, Mir actually timed one of his shots very well, catching "The Demolition Man" with his feet out of position and dragging him down to the mat.
Not bad, consider Overeem's physical strength and grappling skill.
Otherwise, Mir likes to pin his opponent against the fence and work from there. Since he's generally not the quickest fighter, this helps eliminate that disadvantage.
Meanwhile, Duffee doesn't go for takedowns. Usually, that's because he's destroyed his opponent within a minute, rendering offensive wrestling fairly unnecessary.
Defensively, Duffee, once again, relies in large part of his physical strength. In the clinch, it's very difficult to move him around, although he does occasionally get too aggressive with his strikes. If his opponent manages to get in on his hips, they have a decent chance at finishing the shot, but Duffee is usually very quick to secure an underhook.
In addition, Duffee's ability to wall-walk and scramble back to his feet appeared very strong in his bout with Phil de Fries. Considering his time with the wrestler-heavy camp American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), that shouldn't be much of a surprise.
Just to get it out of the way, Duffee has never won or loss via submission. On a related note, I've yet to see him even involved in any submission grappling at all in his career.
Alternatively, Mir, a jiu-jitsu black belt, made his name with bone-crunching submissions. Mir has some solid technique and finesse, but really he's known for cranking on whatever he's latched onto until something pops or his opponent gives up.
From his back, Mir likes to keep his guard open and put his feet on his opponent's hips. This allows him to spin around his foe and create angles. Similarly, if his opponent is standing above him, Mir will grab on to a foot before rolling under in pursuit of foot locks or sweeps.
For example, Mir snapped Tim Sylvia's arm like a twig to first win the heavyweight crown. Sylvia landed with his hand on the mat, Mir overhooked it, and then used his open guard to swivel his hips into proper position. While Sylvia defended by pulling his arm out of the hold partially, Mir nevertheless wrenched on the joint until it imploded.
Similarly, Mir landed a knee bar on Brock Lesnar while the wrestler stood over him. Mir again rotated his hips, first away from Lesnar. Then, he brought his legs back towards the eventual champion, reaping his knee and knocking Lesnar off-balance.
In an attempt to escape Mir's clutches, Lesnar turned away and looked to yank out of the hold. Because of this, Mir switched to a kneebar, except most of Lesnar's knee was out of the hold. Just like the Sylvia armbar, Mir ignored that pivotal fact and hipped in hard anyway, forcing Lesnar to submit.
When on his back, Mir is incredible calm and constantly looking for openings. This can be a big problem, such as when Lesnar brutalized Mir from top position in their rematch.
Alternatively, it can lead to huge submission wins. Most notably, Mir managed to remain aware while under the fire of fellow submission specialist Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. After dropping Mir with punches, "Big Nog" hammered away before dropping back on a guillotine choke.
However, Mir was awake enough to defend the hold and reverse position. Despite being half-conscious, Mir then countered Nogueira's famed sit-out with a kimura. Once Mir locked in the grip, he ignored his opponent's attempt to escape and hopped into top position. Then, Mir did what he does best and jerked on the shoulder with all his might until something snapped.
Best Chance For Success
As usual, Duffee's plan for success is simple and the same. He needs to start quick and blitz Mir with violent punches. If he feels so inclined, Duffee could attempt to work from inside the clinch and imitate Shane Carwin.
Power is power, and Duffee just needs one really solid connection to end this fight. Fight doesn't always have to be complicated.
On the other hand, Mir needs to use his movement. Frankly, every exchange with Duffee is risking a knockout, so Mir should avoid as many as possible.
Luckily, Duffee will definitely reach for his opponent at range. Mir did a nice job ducking under some of Overeem's more looping shots with takedowns, and he should do the same here. Like Duffee, Mir only needs one opportunity, but his finish will likely come on the mat.
If Mir can't finish the initial shot, he should at least hang onto the clinch. From there, he may be able to land another takedown. However, if his position is reversed and Mir is pushed into the fence, the former champion should pull guard to avoid getting mauled.
Will Frank Mir put together consecutive wins or will Todd Duffee finally break into the heavyweight rankings?