Preview And Predictions: UFC Fight Night – Hunt vs. Mir

Mir hunt

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After the world of mixed martial arts was turned upside down two weeks ago when Conor McGregor and Holm Holm both lost at UFC 196, it’s somewhat appropriate that the UFC travels down under for its next event as Brisbane, Australia hosts the latest fight night card.

Like most event of its ilk in modern UFC, this one is filled with local talent and topped by a vaguely interesting bout between ranked contenders.

On this occasion, It’s the heavyweights who take centre stage as Australian-based New Zealander Mark Hunt takes on UFC legend Frank Mir over five rounds.

A former PRIDE fan-favourite, Mark Hunt has elevated his stock even more since moving to the UFC in 2010 as part of the buyout of his former promotion despite his UFC debut against Sean McCorkle taking him to six losses in a row.

That loss, though, was the kickstarter for one of the greatest and most unexpected runs in MMA history. In his next seven fights, Hunt only lost once in a classic with Junior Dos Santos and picked up wins over the like of Ben Rothwell, Stefan Struve and Roy Nelson.

That run, and an injury to Cain Velasquez, earned Hunt an interim title shot on short notice in 2014 which he lost to Fabricio Werdum despite an impressive start. Since then Hunt has lost to number one contender Stipe Miocic and beaten Bigfoot Silva and comes into Saturday night with the hope of climbing back toward the top of the always rocky heavyweight division.

To do that, he’ll have to beat one of the very best heavyweights of all time in Frank Mir.

Having first won the UFC belt back in 2004 against Tim Sylvia, Mir has gone on the have one of the most glittering careers ever seen in mixed martial arts.

It all got off to a bad start, though, as the belt he won against Sylvia was stripped when Mir was involved in a motorbike crash. Upon his return he wasn’t the same fighter initially but wins over Brock Lesnar and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira two years later had Mir back as a UFC champion.

Unfortunately for him he immediately lost the belt again in a rematch with  Lesnar and despite another title shot against Junior Dos Santos after four wins in five, Mir’s days as a champion have probably gone forever.

That loss was the first of four in a row and saw Mir on the brink of being cut from the UFC. To his credit, Mir had somewhat of a renaissance in 2015 with two wins out of three and enters 2016 with the hope of extending his fine career.

As a fight this one should be pretty fun to watch play out. Hunt, a former world champion kickboxer, is one of the most methodical and powerful strikers in the game today so expect him to come out looking to pick Mir off with big shots.

Despite being an orthodox fighter, the left hand of Hunt is arguably his most dangerous weapon as he throws jabs and lead hooks with unmatched ferocity. Behind that, his right hand is also well able to finish opponents with the uppercut being equal parts concussive and accurate – just ask Roy Nelson.

Mir, as of late, has begun to develop his striking into a more defensive and countering style. After his knockout win against Todd Duffee, Mir mentioned that he finally discovered that he could roll with punches to take out some of the power; a new-found skill he will need to put to use on Saturday. Look for him be even more careful against Hunt while using the fact he is a southpaw to make the fight as awkward as possible.

Over five rounds, you’d have to think Mir will be planning on taking it to the ground where he should have a big advantage. Getting it there, though, might be the issue.

Over the past few years, Hunt has developed a pretty useful takedown defence game and even looks better on the floor when it does hit. Mir, though, is a different proposition. In all likelihood he’ll be playing the long game here and hoping to tire Hunt out and get him down once fatigue set in. Once it goes south he’ll he looking latch onto whatever he can and has shown in the past he is well capable of doing that.

For me, I think that’s a great plan for Mir… That won’t work. The five round distance definitely gives him an advantage but you’d have to fancy Hunt to land one big shot before he gasses out. With seven knockout losses on his record we know Frank Mir can be finished and so does Mark Hunt. That makes for fireworks here early.

Outside of the main event, local favourites Jake Matthews, Dan Hooker and Bec Rawlings also feature on the main card while the fight pass meetings of Ross Pearson vs. Chad Laprise and Leslie Smith vs. Rin Nakai are a very nice way to kick off the card.

While in the co-main event Hector Lombard returns from a PED suspension to take on Neil Magny in a very intriguing bout.

Lombard, a former Olympic judoka, is one of the scariest pound-for-pound propositions in all of MMA. He has superb throws, powerful hands, excellent submissions and does everything at a lightening quick pace.

Magny isn’t as athletic and explosive but, with 9 wins in 10 fights over a two year period, he can be an equally daunting task. A member of TUF 16, Magny is a long, technical striker and dominating wrestler who can get a hold of you and not let go for love nor money.

Put those two men together in an Octagon and what you have is a very interesting clash of styles. For me, I think Lombard is a little better everywhere but it’s sure going to be fun finding out!

FULL FIGHT PICKS 

Mark Hunt vs. Frank Mir – Hunt gets the early KO
Neil Magny vs. Hector Lombard – Will be a hard battle buy I fancy a late Lombard stopage
Jake Matthews vs. Johnny Case – Matthews
Dan Kelly vs. Antônio Carlos Júnior – ACJ
James Te-Huna vs. Steve Bossé – JTH
Bec Rawlings vs. Seo Hee Ham – SHH

Brendan O’Reilly vs. Alan Jouban – Jouban
Dan Hooker vs. Mark Eddiva – Hooker
Richard Walsh vs. Viscardi Andrade – Andrade
Alan Patrick vs. Damien Brown – Patrick

Ross Pearson vs. Chad Laprise – Laprise
Leslie Smith vs. Rin Nakai – Smith

BET OF THE WEEK
Mark Hunt by 1st round KO at 23/10

START TIMES
Early Prelims – 10.30pm on Fight Pass
Prelims – 12am on BT Sport 2
Main Card – 2am on BT Sport 2

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook Facebook.com/seansheehanmma