In the co-main event at UFC 164, two former UFC Heavyweight champions do battle as Frank Mir (16-7 MMA; 14-7 UFC) faces Josh Barnett (32-6 MMA; 4-1 UFC). The official UFC rankings have Mir as the #6 contender at Heavyweight, with Barnett at #10. UFC 164: Henderson vs. Pettis airs live on PPV this Saturday, August 31 with the main card starting at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT.
Like Mendes vs. Guida, this is a battle between two remarkably similar fighters. Mir and Barnett both made their careers on the strength of their submission-based grappling game, and both have improved their striking over the years. They've both worn UFC gold. But both are also winding down their careers - Mir is the younger man at age 34, which is rare in MMA. It's been 9 years since Mir was UFC champion proper (not counting his Interim title), 11 years for Barnett. It's amazing that both men remain viable contenders.
How do these two stack up?
Mir: 34 years old | 6'3" | 79" reach
Barnett: 35 years old | 6'4" | 78" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
Few men have had as rocky a road in the UFC as Frank Mir. The former champion seemed done years ago, battled back from serious injury to be one of the top Heavyweights again, and now seems to have settled into a role just barely outside of title contention. He had arguably the best run of his career in 2010/2011, but is now on the first 2 fight losing streak of his lengthy career. His bone breaking win over Big Nog established him as arguably the best submission fighter in Heavyweight history - another big submission win here would be huge.
Josh Barnett's UFC career path has not been easy either, largely due to his very public feud with Dana White. Barnett beat Randy Couture for the Heavyweight belt all the way back at UFC 36, but subsequently failed a drug test and was stripped of the belt and released from the UFC. He's spent the last decade fighting primarily in Japan and then in Affliction (where you could argue that another failed Barnett drug test led directly to the closing of the entire company) and Strikeforce where he was runner-up in the GP. A great talent, Barnett may be forever tainted by his repeated failed tests.
Why should you care?
This could be a tremendous grappling battle a la Mir vs. Nog 2. But it could be a dull wall 'n stall fest. We'll have to see.