Sure, it’s nice and sweet that the UFC is returning to pay-per-view in February with a pair of world championship matches.
Yes, like most of you, I love seeing titles on the line. And yes, Renan Barao-Urijah Faber and Jose Aldo-Ricardo Lamas are sure to provide some great action.
But give me the third headliner at UFC 169.
Give me Frank Mir and Alistair Overeem.
Call me old fashioned, but the prospects of seeing Mir and Overeem – even though they are coming off losses and look a little worse-for-wear – duke it out inside the world famous Octagon is enough to get my hard-earned money.
Would it have been a much more interesting encounter prior to three straight losses by Mir, including two in knockout fashion? Of course.
If Overeem had finished Travis Browne and Antonio Silva last year instead of letting them recover and knock him out, would this have been a bigger bout? Of course.
However, had one, two or part of either of those things went down, we likely would not be getting a meeting of one of the greatest jiu-jitsu masters vs. a kickboxing legend.
So, along with the intense and enormous amount of pressure that comes with competing inside the Octagon, Mir and Overeem are – for all intent purposes – fighting for their careers.
At 34 years old and with three straight losses on his resume, the likelihood of Mir (16-8) surviving a fourth is a long shot. He’s several rungs down the pecking order in terms of fighting for a title again, but he can still draw viewers with his name.
It’s been a rough five years for Mir, as he has been stopped four times since back-to-back 2008 finishes over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Brock Lesnar.
Mir had little trouble with Cheick Kongo back in 2009, but was handled a few months later by Shane Carwin. He rebounded – in less than impressive fashion – in 2010 with a third round finish of Mirko CroCop, but was pushed to the distance by Roy Nelson.
In 2011, Mir submitted Nogueira for a second time, but hasn’t won since. Junior dos Santos and Josh Barnett both stopped him, while he was on the losing end of a decision to Daniel Cormier.
Overeem hasn’t fared much better since rising to the ranks of an elite fighter in 2011 when he finished Lesnar in his Octagon debut. On his way to contending for the UFC title, “The Reem” was forced to the sidelines after issues arose dealing with his testosterone levels.
After a lengthy stay on the bench, Overeem returned in 2013 and was on his way to a win over “Bigfoot” before he got cocky and was stopped. A few months later, the former Strikeforce champion showed he hadn’t learned a thing, allowing Browne to stick around and stop him with a highlight-reel front-kick.
Yet, this is why the UFC goes out of its way to purchase MMA promotions and fighter contracts; to give the fans “dream” matches they thought might never come to fruition.
Regardless of where they are ranked now, we will remember Mir and Overeem as two of the best – maybe less due to all the “backstage issues” involving TRT and other substances.
But these are still two great fighters who will bring it in hopes of surviving another fight and moving back into contention.
Can Overeem avoid the unbreakable ground game of Mir? Will Mir fall victim to a powerful Overeem kick or strike? If he is in control, will we see Overeem finally go for the kill, or will he fail in the spotlight again?
February 1 these questions will be answered.
Oh, and we get to see Barao, Aldo, Faber and Lamas to boot.