Two combat sports legends face off tonight as submission specialist Frank Mir takes on the master of the ‘one-hitter quitter’ Mark Hunt. Mir has won 2 of his last 3, and is coming off of a loss to Andrei Arlovski in a performance in which he looked flat. Hunt is coming off a TKO win over Bigfoot Silva, but dropped his two previous fights to Miocic and Werdum. The durable Samoan ate a seemingly endless stream of punches from Stipe Miocic, and it’s fair to wonder if he’s the same fighter after taking such punishment.
If this fight were taking place a few years ago it could be categorized as a striker vs grappler contest. However, in recent years the former UFC heavyweight champion Mir has adopted a love for boxing and the results speak for themselves. Facing Bigfoot Silva after a four fight losing skid, Frank showed off his new craft, dropping Silva with a slick hook. In his next match Mir slept Todd Duffy after a furious minute of in-the-pocket slugging with the powerful striker. Mir moved brilliantly in the chaos, slipping and cracking Duffy, winning the exchanges and ultimately shut out his lights after Duffy over-extended himself with a blow that would make Hunt proud. The threat of his improved stand-up skills could help him get the fight to the ground if he chooses, at least theoretically. Or perhaps he’ll be more confident trading with Hunt and he’ll end up on the list of fighters that the Super Samoan has slept.
Hunt is a very crafty kickboxer. He changes up the angles and timing on his strikes brilliantly, making him hard to get a read on for most fighters. He throws thunderous leg kicks, and moves deceptively quick. When fighting Roy Nelson, whose skill-set is somewhat similar to Mir’s considering his BJJ black belt and stand-up skills, it took Hunt just over a round to diagnose Nelson’s pattern of striking/level changing and he made him pay with an odd-angle uppercut, becoming the first man to ever knock out Big Country. Mir has to be clever with his set-ups to avoid the same fate.
Hunt has 6 defeats by submission, although the last one was in 2010. He’s been doing a good job getting to his feet in recent years when taken down by a grappler. On his podcast Phonebooth Fighting Mir mentioned that it’s very humid in Australia and he and his training partners are quickly soaked with sweat. He said that it doesn’t make you less apt to go for a sub, but it may change the grip you use when you’re locking it in.
With Mir having lost seven fights by ko/tko and Hunt six by submission, the odds that one of these men add another trademark performance to their hallowed careers seems pretty good.