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UFC 111 Preview: Frank Mir vs. Shane Carwin

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Without question, Frank Mir is as talented as virtually any heavyweight at securing submissions. His size, strength, solid technique and penchant for aggressively working for submissions make him a formidable threat in the heavyweight division. Fighting at this level ultimately reveals every fighter's strengths and weaknesses and Mir also has his weaknesses. Many critics have made mention of the fact that he isn't the most durable fighter and can't absorb that much punishment throughout the course of a fight. Perhaps that is nitpicking considering that he has faced a formidable roster of opponents, but I do think there is some truth to that critique. Mir is a tough fighter to figure sometimes. When this 30-year-old Nevada native is focused and at his best, he is a tough night for pretty much any heavyweight out there. His fight ending ability was on display when he took out Tim Sylvia, Brock Lesnar and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. But one can never be certain what kind of performance they're going to get out of Mir as he is sometimes inconsistent. One thing that I liked which Mir did in the Kongo fight is the fight-changing overhand left that he landed. Not only was it a crisp punch that he committed to, but he utilized an effective grappler's trick of the trade. He threw a power shot, all the while keeping his guard up and letting his momentum carry him into his opponent. Normally this will allow a grappler to immediately clinch (whether the strike lands or not) and begin trying to work his grappling attack against his opponent. In this particular case Kongo went down and no clinch was needed. But facing a physically strong, solid wrestler like Carwin won't allow Mir to dictate where the fight takes place and I'm thinking that could prove to be problematic for Mir. It will be interesting to see which version of Mir shows up on Saturday night in New Jersey. Frank Mir has a professional record of 13-4 with two wins coming by way of knockout and eight wins coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced thus far is 66.8%.

SBN coverage of UFC 111: St-Pierre vs. Hardy

Shane Carwin could not have picked a nickname that fits his personality less. Perhaps that is because he didn't pick it. Always the fan-friendly fighter, Carwin allowed his fans to vote on a nickname for him on a contestant sponsored by his website last year. They chose "The Monster." Those who have met the heavyweight contender on multiple occasions confirm that he is without question one of the friendliest and most down-to-earth guys in the game. But what of his potential for a title run? Well, it's true that Shane hasn't fought many fighters that had the ability to test him yet. His last opponent, Gabriel Gonzaga, was the only one that observers thought might be able to test him and they were somewhat right. Gonzaga clocked Carwin with a strong punch that immediately damaged his nose and immediately took Carwin down and secured position. Working on instinct, Carwin made his way back to his feet and ended Gonzaga's night with a ferocious right hand. To his credit, Carwin did something that is not very easy to do. He stopped his opponent when he, himself, was seriously hurt. That showed some heart. There is still a lot that we don't know about Shane's talent and potential (not to mention his stamina). Until very recently we haven't had an opportunity to see him tested at all. On Saturday night we should, though. What Shane has going for him, besides some legit wrestling skills, is the ability to do some SERIOUS damage with those 5XL sized fists. In a MMA landscape where promoters desperately want Bobby Lashley to be built into a heavy-handed wrestling monster, Shane Carwin already is one. And, at 35, he's as ready as he'll ever be for his shot. Shane Carwin has a professional record of 11-0 with six wins by knockout and five wins by submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced is 53.4%.

When you breakdown the numbers it becomes immediately clear that neither fighter likes to waste any time. Mir has only been out of the second round one time in his entire career and has eight first round submission victories. Carwin has yet to make it halfway through the first round yet. Ever. When trying to predict this fight I really found myself conflicted. My head tells me that Mir takes this one. He has the experience. He's also younger and seems comfortable with his recently added muscle mass and new training regimen. And he also has more ways to win. But I've got a hunch about this one and, although I very well could be wrong (and most like am!), I'm going to pick the underdog. I think it's reasonable to assume that at some point Shane is going to land some punches on Mir and when that happens, I'm just not so sure that it won't significantly rattle Frank. One thing is for sure, this one should not be boring. My prediction: Shane Carwin by TKO in the 1st round.