Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight standouts Frank Mir and Todd Duffee will scrap TONIGHT (July 15, 2015) at UFC Fight Night 71 inside Valley View Casino Center in San Diego, California.
After going on a four-fight losing streak across two years, Mir took some time off to heal and consider his approach to the sport. He returned little more than one year later in the Orthodox stance, and it took him just a couple minutes end his opponent's night.
Consider the former Heavyweight champion reinvigorated.
Meanwhile, injuries have also been a major opponent for Duffee. Since rejoining UFC in 2012, he's fought just twice, though he finished both men in less than one round combined. Now, he'll look to announce himself as a contender by taking out the former champion.
Let's take a look at the keys to victory for both men:
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 265-pound division's finest submission fighters of all time, having cranked on plenty of limbs in his lengthy career. In addition, Mir is a fairly dangerous striker with some big power.
In his last bout, Mir's focus was largely on movement and speed. As mentioned, he switched his stance from Southpaw to Orthodox to be quicker with his lead hand strikes.
Against Duffee, Mir's objective and strategy should be the same, at least while the fight remains standing. Duffee is an absolute powerhouse, and Mir has never been the most durable fighter. In a straight up exchange of punches, Mir is bound to lose more often than not.
Instead, Mir needs to rely on that movement to avoid his opponent's punches. When he has an opportunity to step in with a quick combo and safely circle out, he should do so, but Mir needs to focus on avoiding punches for the most part.
Obviously, Mir's end game should be getting this fight to the mat, where he can employ his bone-snapping submissions. While clinching with Duffee isn't the best idea, a well-timed double leg could put Duffee on his back.
And Mir only needs one opportunity.
Key Wins: Anthony Hamilton (UFC 181), Philip De Fries (UFC 155)
Key Losses: Mike Russow (UFC 114), Alistair Overeem (Dynamite!! 2010)
Keys to Victory: Duffee is a monstrous athlete and is one of very few heavyweight prospects under the age of 30. While he's not a technical master in any area, he's at least proficient everywhere, and his insane physicality has carried him through many fights.
At this point, there's a pretty clear path to victory against Mir. He's vulnerable to power punches from any distance and can also be beaten up within the clinch.
While Duffee may have the wrestling and strength to control Mir against the cage, that's a risky strategy. Mir has proven to have a few slick clinch takedowns in his arsenal, and Duffee does not want to end up on his back even once.
Instead, Duffee should look to keep his distance and explode forward with combinations. He's naturally the faster man, and he only needs one clean connection to hurt and possibly finish Mir.
Bottom Line: Neither man is currently in the title hunt, but Heavyweight is an incredibly thin division, so they aren't far away either.
While Mir's last win was important for his career, it's not that significant in how it impacts the division, as "Bigfoot" appears to have fallen off hard. However, if he manages to defeat Duffee -- who's still seen as a promising prospect -- it would definitely be a big win for him.
Besides, if Andrei Arlovski is making a title run in 2015, why can't Mir?
That said, a loss would definitely hurt. If Mir is finished early, the calls for his retirement may return, as losing five of six is not a positive sign for a fighter well over ten years into his career.
This is Duffee's chance to break into the rankings. It seems a bit odd already that it's taken this long for him to reach this point -- he did debut in UFC in 2009 after all -- so it's hugely important that he wins this bout. Otherwise, fans may start to give up on him being anything more than an action fighter.
If Duffee does win, he's in the Top 15 and on a decent win streak. There simply aren't a ton of contenders at the moment, so Duffee could find himself in a very high-profile fight before long.
At UFC Fight Night 71, Frank Mir and Todd Duffee will collide in the main event. Which fighter will have his hand raised?