UFC Heavyweight bout: Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Odds: (-285 Mir /+225 Nogueira )
Betting Pick: Nogueira
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The semi-main event is a highly anticipated rematch between former UFC Heavyweight champion Frank Mir and former PRIDE Heavyweight champion and Interim UFC Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira. The last time these two met, at UFC 92 in 2008, Nogueira was hampered by a terrible staph infection and Mir completely brutalized him. Nogueira has undergone a variety of surgeries since their first fight and will enter the Octagon healthy and coming off a huge TKO win over Brendan Schaub, and would like nothing more than to prove that their first bout was a fluke. These are two of the Heavyweight division’s most accomplished submission grapplers, but Mir will probably want to stand and trade with Nog and Minotauro will likely be more than happy to oblige.
Frank Mir, a former UFC Heavyweight champion, has re-established himself as one of the top players in the Heavyweight title picture with a string of wins. Still, despite winning two in a row, neither win was particularly impressive. He looked lost for two rounds against Cro Cop before finishing him right as time expired and failed to finish an extremely sick Roy Nelson. A win is a win, though, and three in a row would put Mir firmly in the title mix again. If he wants to beat Nogueira he is going to have to replicate his game plan from the first fight, bullying Nogueira around on the inside with uppercuts and hooks, keeping Nogueira from getting into a groove and using his size and power advantages to keep Nogueira on the defensive.
Antonio Rogerio “Minotauro” Nogueira is a true legend of the sport. A former titlist in both PRIDE and UFC, Nogueira has consistently faced the best Heavyweights in the world for a decade now and has put together a very impressive record. It is clear that years of beatings and injuries have caught up with him and that his once-impregnable chin is no longer as solid as it once was, but most everyone wrote him off against Brendan Schaub and he completely destroyed him with punches. Nogueira’s boxing is some of the most accurate and technical in the division, and his ability to pull off desperation submissions is the stuff of legend. He was outstruck badly by Mir in their first fight, but he was suffering from a staph infection at the time. It remains to be seen how much of his problem was illness and how much was a bad matchup with Mir.
This is a very tough fight to call. It is easy to say that Mir will dominate Nogueira like he did the first time, but that ignores how sick Nogueira was. It is just as easy to blame Nogueira’s loss solely on the illness and underestimate how dangerous and powerful Mir’s boxing really is. I think it is clear that Nogueira is healthier this time and will perform better, but Mir is still a tough style matchup who can control him in the clinch and has substantially more one-punch power. Still, I think the edge here goes to Nogueira, who is a much more technical boxer and has by far the more effective ground game. Mir is the stronger fighter but Nogueira is slicker and more technical, and should be able to score enough points to win a unanimous decision.
Prediction: “Big Nog” by Unanimous Decision.