There’s quite the dichotomy when it comes to Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. From everyone I’ve spoken to, Mir did not have a great training camp leading up to this fight. He battled several injuries, most notably a back problem.
At one point in November, a source even contacted FiveOuncesOfPain.com to raise questions whether the fight was going to remain on the card. While Mir is a former heavyweight champion, has great jiu-jitsu, and deserves respect as a fighter, the truth of the matter is that he’s not known for having the best work ethic in the gym.
On the other hand, you have Nogueira, one of the most diligent fighters out there when it comes to preparing for a fight. The one thing that I will always remember about Nogueira is this past July when I was in Stockton to cover EliteXC’s “Unfinished Business.”
I had covered the post-fight press conference and then hung around the arena to speak with some people and by the time I got back to my hotel, it was pretty late. There was a bunch of people at the arena that hung around for the “official” after-party and there were also a bunch of people at the hotel bar. While the fighters and industry people were partaking in the famed “MMA lifestyle,” I saw Nogueira and his brother whiz by me in the hotel lobby. Were they running off to go to a party? No. They were in full workout gear and were working on their conditioning… at 1:30 in the morning!!!
I had a chance to ask Nogueira about that several months later and I don’t think he understood why I felt like it was such a big deal. He simply said that his brother had a fight coming up and that it was simply the time they had available to get their conditioning in.
Mir has gotten by all these years on pure talent. I think he’s a better athlete then he’s given credit for and he’s just amazingly good at jiu-jitsu for a man of his size. The problem is, he’ll be meeting his match on the ground in this fight as Nogueira will be able to neutralize his submission game. If the fight goes to the floor – and you know it will at some point – I see it being a stalemate unless the reason for the fight going to the mat was because someone got clocked and fell down.
When it comes to the standup, there is just no comparison. Nogueira doesn’t have great Muay Thai and isn’t the most diverse striker in the world, but his boxing is solid after having spent so much time working with the Cuban national boxing team in the past. Mir might be able to surprise us all in the striking aspect of the fight if he can control the distance and try to hurt Nogueira with some kicks. However, if he comes inside and tries to bang with Nogueira, it will be a major mistake because his hands simply don’t compare.
But it all comes back to preparation. This is a five round fight and Mir is not known for his cardio. Nogueira is going to have more stamina but he’s also shown us countless times that few in the fight game can absorb as much punishment as he can. Let’s say that Mir goes on the offensive and causes damage to Nogueira, I still have the question of whether that will actually work to Nogueira’s advantage? While Nogueira absorbs his beating, Mir will wear himself out and Nogueira will be sitting pretty once he makes his recovery.
I can’t stress enough the importance that this is a five round fight. Mir is going to have a tough time finishing Nogueira and the longer the fight goes on, the more of an advantage that Minotauro will have. I see Nogueira outlasting Mir and TKO’ing a spent opponent somewhere in the fourth round.