Frank + Mirko = Sad face
On September 25th, UFC 119 is scheduled to take place in Indianapolis. The card featured a heavy weight bout between Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera. This match up is intruiging for a number of reasons:
1. It's a rematch, and rematches are always fun.
2. Frank, displaying improved striking, was the first person to ever knock out Big Nog.
3. After the fight, Nog revealed that he was suffering from both a knee injury and staph infection.
4. Nog then went and put on an amazing performance against Randy Couture.
Personally, I picked Nog to win the original bout, even though I was hoping for Frank. The concept of seeing these two go at it a second time is damn near mouth watering. Now, sources are reporting that Noguiera has withdrawn due to a rib injury.
Allow me to digress...
The UFC currently boasts 25 fighters within their heavy weight roster. The top 10 could arguably be:
1. Brock Lesnar
2. Cain Velasquez
3. Shane Carwin
4. Junior Dosantos
6. Antonio Noguiera
7. Roy Nelson
8.Heath Herring (even though he hasn't fought since his 2008 match with Brock Lesnar).
9. Brendan Schaub
10. Mirko Crocop
So now that Nog is out, who do they pair Frank up with? Brendan Shaub (giving an up and comer a shot)?
Roy Nelson (particularly intruiging since Nelson out pointed Mir at a jiu-jitsu tournement back in 2003)
Shane Carwin ( to keep both fighters in the mix, as well as creating another high profile match up for a number one contender's spot)?
NO! CROCOP!...MIRKO "EFFING" CROCOP!
Now don't get me wrong... I am as much of a fan of Crocop as anyone else. I remember watching with shock and awe as he crushed his way through Pride. But let's be frank: "Pride Crocop" and "UFC Crocop" are two completely different entities. The fearsomely aggresive striker has slowly faded away. Competitors have come to realize that if you keep him on his heels, keep him backing up, you can effectively neutralize him.
Here's an example: Crocop vs. Dos Santos. Now, does anyone truly feel like Junior is a better or more capable striker than Crocop? Of course not. But Junior is an incredibly aggresive fighter, and kept Crocop on his heels, effectively shutting down his "thai march".
Look at the comparative records: Mirko is 4-1 in his last 5, while Frank is 3-2. While Mirko may have the better record, look at the competition:
Loss- Shane Carwin
Loss- Brock Lesnar
Win- Antonio Noguiera
Win- Brock Lesnar
Win- Pat Barry ( who owned Crocop until breaking his own right hand and foot)
Win- Anthony Perosh (who?)
Loss- Dos Santos
Win- Mustapha Al-turk (by eye poke)
Win- Choi- Hong Man ( the Korean equivalent to a WWE freakshow)
The UFC boasts that it sets up intruiging fights, regardless of rankings, but this makes no sense, even by MMAth standards (Congo beat Crocop, Mir beat Congo). Now, I don't know nuthin' about nuthin', but to me the solution seems relatively simple: An increasingly lackluster Crocop as a gatekeeper against up and comer Brendan Shaub, while Mir faces Roy Nelson (both coming off losses against top competition) to settle an old grudge. It's marketable, it's exciting, and it makes sense.
The UFC might be making a mistake, here...names can only sell fights for so long. In theory, the main event should sell the entire card by itself. You shouldn't have to build up an exciting undercard to promote a weak main event. With all that being said...
Of course I'll get the pay per view; It's Mirko effing Crocop, for Christ sakes. I'll take Frank by submission, 2nd round (78/22).