UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos' coach had strong words concerning how his fighter matches up with former UFC Champion Frank Mir. This fight has been put together on short notice following the fallout of the Alistair Overeem scandal and it has given both fighters precious little time to prepare their strategies for one another.
The immediate reaction was the the Champion held a imposing advantage on the feet. Junior dos Santos has a rare combination of speed, power and size that makes him extremely dangerous on the feet. Most fans agreed that Mir's chances are pretty slim on the feet and his only path to victory is to somehow wrestle dos Santos to the mat. There Mir's years of black belt experience in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu could help him secure a submission victory.
From that point of view the biggest challenge Mir faced was somehow closing the distance and solving the puzzle of how to get dos Santos down. The Champions ground grappling ability is completely discounted, in large part because we've haven't seen dos Santos forced to use his grappling in years.
Guilherme Cruz of Tatme caught with dos Santos' jiu jitsu coach Yuri Carlton while he helped prepare the champion for his UFC 146 match with Mir and when asked how dos Santos' skills compares to Mir's, see what he had to say after the jump...
This speculations about Mir being better on the ground is bullshit. Cigano is better on the stand-up and on the ground. I'm positive about it!
Strong words to be certain, but not shocking. Coaches are supposed to stand by and instill confidence in their fighters. But what was interesting is what came next.
I'm positive that Cigano's Jiu-Jitsu is better. He trains with the Best guys in Brazil: Minotauro, Minotouro, Anderson, Demian, just to name a few... Frank Mir trains in the United States with some Brazilians, but we have the privilege of training in Brazil. When you're talking about Jiu-Jitsu, Brazil is the place to be.
Training in Brazil vs training in the United States is a debate that has continued in both Mixed Martial Arts and BJJ communities for years now. In the modern realities of both sports to simply assume that not training with Brazilians means that one will have weak grappling is laughable.
The fact that Carlton takes such a direct shot at who Mir is training with is interesting, as Mir's grappling coach is Robert Drysdale. In the lead up to the Forrest Griffin vs Anderson Silva match, Drysdale made several remarks about Anderson Silva's jiu jitsu that did not sit well with the Nogueira Brothers camp. Drysdale is a very accomplished in competitive grappling, more so than Demian Maia or the Nogueira brothers, having won IBJJF and CBJJF world championships, and ADCCs but has never been given the same level of respect by the Brazilian community.