Part of my choice of title is click bait, I’ll admit it. I’m a graduate student and after trying to put together something that resembles a sex life and social life, I don’t really have a lot of time for this. But I love you all, so I’m doing it anyway(though you will learn my love is often more caustic than my hate). That being said, I made it very clear in an earlier piece that Arlovski vs. Mir seems to be a mismatch. It’s awesome for Frank Mir to have first round knockouts in his las two fights but if you had to rank he and Arlovski in the division, Mir would lag far behind for good reason.
So rather than giving a straight match up, I’d like to analyze if Frank Mir has what it takes to take out Arlovski and start a mythical career comeback by breaking down his strengths and weaknesses.
Everyone in the heavyweight division has knockout power; you can’t be 200+ lbs and north of six feet tall without carrying some concussive force (notable exception being Stipe “Pillowfist” Miocic). That being said there are some heavyweights with the type of power which is truly frightening, where they don’t even need to hit cleanly or accurately to buckle an opponent past the point of no return.
Past and present of this category include Shane Carwin, Mark Hunt, Junior Dos Santos and believe Frank Mir has made a case to belong in this category.
It goes unnoticed because Mir is, first and foremost, a grappler who only strikes with fighters whom he cannot take down. Unfortunately these fighters have also been the ones who are leagues ahead of him on the feet like Junior Dos Santos, Daniel Cormier and Alistair Overeem.
But we have seen hints of his fantastic power in fights before.
It’s undeniable that Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was on the decline when he met Frank Mir at UFC 92 but he was still tough as nails, surviving a horrendous beating at the hands of Heath Herring and Tim Sylvia before coming back to win. Yet Mir repeatedly managed to knockdown Nogueira not with power shots but simple 1-2 combinations at the very end of his range. Not visually impressive, but crumpling Nogueira with straight punches isn’t easy.
At UFC 107 Mir faced off against Cheick Kongo, a 6’ 4” 240 lbs experienced kickboxer. It was the definition of what we would a fight made by styles, with Mir being the superior grappler and Kongo as being the better striker. Yet the very first left hook Mir connected with he sent Kongo flying horizontal like a cartoon character.
With two first round knockouts (over mid-tier opponents, I’ll admit) it’s fair to say that Mir belongs in the upper echelon of power punchers.
I give props to Andrei Arlovski for shoring up his defense and surviving when the extremely dangerous Travis Browne knocked him down with a blind right hand. But it’s a little bit of a pattern for Arlovski; Tim Sylvia and Fedor Emelianenko were both able to capitalize on his recklessness to deliver fight changing blows.
Arlovski is extraordinarily powerful (the only man other than Mark Hunt to knock out Roy Nelson, and the only man to knock out Ben Rothwell) but he relies on accumulation of damage from his brutally accurate right hand rather than a single punch. That leaves plenty of opportunity for Mir to land a single punch and if he does, Arlovski will not survive.
All that being said about Mir’s power, Mir is slow. Everywhere.
To be fair, it’s not all his fault. Even with his resurgence, Mir never truly recovered from his debilitating motorcycle accident following his arm break of Tim Sylvia. Watch this clip of Mir slipping Wes Sims’s punch and rag dolling him at UFC 46:
. . . and compare that to any fight after that. Frank Mir just never moved the same, and his ability to take fighters down has suffered tremendously for that. Even with his improved footwork in his recent wins, Mir just looks plodding in comparison to most of the top 5 heavyweights.
Even his hand speed is lacking.
While his slick dipping jab into a Cuban hook to knockout Bigfoot was nice, his flurries against Todd Duffee were hard to watch. Forget the lack of technique as the two men brawled inexpertly and just look at how slow both fighters looked as they winged hooks at each other.
Arlovski’s right hand is dangerous for the same reason that Mark Hunt’s left hook has become so lethal: speed. It’s not just that the punch carries power but that it gets there so fast that it’s difficult to react. To illustrate this perfectly, watch Arlovski land two, almost three straight rights on Travis Browne before the latter even has time to react.
Andrei Arlovski is anything but a one-handed puncher, but the overwhelming amount of his offense comes from his right hand. The fact that he can accurately flurry with one hand and beat dangerous opponents is a testament to how fast he is.
There’s a reason I won’t be including “grappling” on this list of pros and cons: I don’t see Mir getting close enough to Arlovski to grapple him. The only way he gets Arlovski to the ground is if Mir knocks him down and as I’ve stated before, when Mir connects the fight is over.
Barring that possibility, Arlovski can run circles around Mir while peppering him with his lethal right hand.
Frankly (Heh), I don’t know how I feel about Frank Mir’s chin.
He is very easy to hurt, but not very easy to knock down. This allows him to extend fights without getting knocked out (like the knee from Alistair Overeem) but at the same time he’s not very good defensively after being hurt (Junior Dos Santos). Even Big Nog almost knocked him out before deciding for a submission instead.
I say pro AND con because it means that Arlovski will have to work very hard to finish Mir, giving him more chances for the comeback knockout or (extremely unlikely) submission. That being said, he is so ineffective after being hurt (a state which he finds himself frequently) that his chances of coming back against Arlovski drop catastrophically after the first heavy punch lands.
We’ll have to see how this one plays out.
X Factor: Southpaw?
Mir fights out of both stances, coming in orthodox against Silva and southpaw against Duffee. But there’s no question that his dipping left hook is his absolute best punch. Being the submission monster that Mir is, when he level changes it is a legitimate cause of concern for his opponent.
But Mir doesn’t dip his head after he throws the punch to avoid the counter but rather dips with it. Unless the opponent is far enough away that they don’t have to worry about a takedown or successfully counters the dip, they’ll essentially have to guess which technique Mir is attempting. It’s this kind of guesswork that makes Cain Velasquez so dangerous.
I personally favor Mir coming out orthodox against Arlovski. Sure it will lend less power to his left hook but it will help it get there quicker and requires less of a dip which is good against a solid counter fighter like Arlovski. Travis Browne was able to catch Arlovski with a no wind up left hook and I see no reason Mir can’t do the same but with more damage.
That being said, there is a case for Mir to come out southpaw.
Arlovski’s counter strike of choice against opponents closing distance is his straight right. However, a straight right is a horrible punch against an opponent who dips to their own right because at best you will miss and at worst you will have to punch across your body. When Mir pairs this with his pronounced dip and high arcing left hook, there’s a good possibility he could perform a modified sort of cross counter and take the fight.
Verdict: All things said and done, this is Arlovski’s fight.
Mir has the tools to win but his speed is absolutely debilitating. His ability to submit, knock out or even grind down Arlovski all depends on him getting within distance to do so and I just can’t see him doing it. The fight may go longer than predicted, but we’ll see Arlovski get the title shot he so well deserves.
Arlovski via KO, Round 2