(This is the third of four blogs from former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir, who takes on current champ Junior dos Santos for the title at UFC 146.)
People like to think I have only a 'grappler's chance' in my UFC title fight this coming Saturday (May 26) against Junior Dos Santos. This means that unless I'm able to get the champion to the floor and submit him, I haven't a hope in hell. Yet, from my point of view, I'd argue that champ Junior dos Santos has only a 'puncher's chance' in this fight. If he doesn't stand with me and knock me out, he hasn't a hope in hell of winning, either. I know I'm taking his title if we spend any length of time on the ground, and Junior knows it, too.
Of course, in order to get the fight to the ground, I'll no doubt have to deal with his world-class boxing ability first. Junior has a ton of knockouts – so he can obviously punch hard – and his footwork and jab are both highly impressive. The jab, in particular, is a really under-used punch in mixed martial arts and Junior throws it better than anybody. He controls opponents with that thing and doesn't allow them a chance to get going with attacks of their own. Obviously, you won't be knocking people out with a jab, but it can be used to set things up and control the distance, and Junior does both very well.
He's clearly a better boxer than me at this stage, and that is a point I wouldn't be foolish enough to argue. Yes, I've improved a lot in recent years and can hold my own with most, but boxing is something Junior has been doing since he was a little boy. He certainly has an edge over me in that area, as well as the rest of the heavyweight division. However, that's not to say I'm scared of his boxing ability or in any rush to get away from it. All fights start out standing and I have done my best to prepare for what Junior may throw at me during the time we spend on our feet.
[Frank Mir: Change of opponents hasn't altered game plan]
Interestingly, I tend to diversify my striking attacks a little bit more than Junior does. Maybe that's because Junior's boxing is so good, and he doesn't need to throw in kicks and knees as well. Whatever the reason, I like to break up opponents with a variety of strikes, and that unpredictability could keep Junior guessing on Saturday. He knows I won't just be coming with big roundhouse punches.
Junior, on the other hand, will presumably be bringing boxing, boxing and more boxing. And he can afford to do this, as his boxing is at such a high level. It's not his responsibility to go out and show the world he's well-rounded and versatile – it's his job to go out there and win. That's what he does.
Nevertheless, Junior has criticised my so-called inability to fight through adversity, yet we haven't really seen him do the same in the UFC to date. He hasn't had to fight through adversity and grab victory from the jaws of defeat. In fact, the only time I've ever seen him encounter any sort of adversity was five years ago – when he was tapped out by some guy in Brazil.
It certainly wasn't the most vicious arm-bar in the world, and yet, Junior decided to tap. Maybe he's just a smart guy and wanted to protect his body. He was still young and on the rise at that point, so perhaps it was a good decision. But, at the same time, it makes me wonder how hard he'll try and fight off my submissions on Saturday night. If given the chance, I'll be slapping on far more vicious arm-bars than the one he tapped from five years ago, I can promise him that.
[Frank Mir: JDS can't escape the fear of what might happen]
I know I'll have to make the most of whatever chances come my way. Looking back at my two previous UFC title wins, I'd have to say this one on Saturday is undoubtedly the toughest test of the three. I had speed advantages over Tim Sylvia and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in my first two shots, but this won't be the case against Junior. He is young, quicker and more athletic than I am, and I'm going to have to change things up because of that. I will have to use the experience gained from winning those first two belts in order to adjust my game ever so slightly to this younger model. It's an intriguing challenge for me, though, and one I'm really looking forward to. I've prepared as well as I can and I'm now ready to fight my fight and make history.
When I visualize the fight, I see it playing out something like this. We'll start off boxing for a little while, Junior will use his speed to try and get me out of there with punches, and he may even catch me with one or two. At that point I hit the deck, he'll rush into finish me – thinking I'm hurt – and I'll surprise him and catch him with something. Junior's tap will arrive fairly quickly, and the title belt will be wrapped around my waist not long after. That's how I'm picturing Saturday night …
Frank Mir challenges UFC world heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos at UFC 146 on Saturday, May 26, live on Pay-Per-View.
Follow @thefrankmir on Twitter for all the latest news ahead of his bout at UFC 146
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