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UFC Fight Night: Toe to Toe Preview - Complete Breakdown of Antonio Silva vs. Frank Mir

Phil and David lament matchmaking and MMA films while breaking down everything you need to know for Antonio 'Bigfoot' Silva vs. Frank Mir.

Phil MacKenzie

Frank Mir takes on Bigfoot Silva at heavyweight at Ultimate Fight Night 61 on February 22, 2015 at the Ginásio Gigantinho in Porto Alegre, Brazil

One-sentence summary?

Two of the heavyweight divisions most-maligned overachievers meet in a fight which is unfortunately not likely to change perceptions

OR

Two guys better than advertised, but on the decline try to change fortunes in the most maligned division in MMA.

Stats?

Heavyweight (205-265 lbs)
Frank Mir

16-9

Odds: +215

Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva

18-6-1

Odds: -235

History lesson / introduction to the fighters

Phil: Bigfoot is the big, slow guy who got knocked out by Andrei Arlovski. Mir is the frail, smug submission specialist who is on a four fight losing streak. This doesn't seem like the right time to ask this but... why don't these guys get the respect they've earned? Between them, they've fought pretty much every great heavyweight of the last two generations, and have picked up wins over Fedor, Big Nog, Arlovski, Overeem, Lesnar and Travis Browne, with all of those wins apart from Arlovski (ironically) coming via stoppage. Mir and Bigfoot aren't good heavyweights. These are great heavyweights.

Is it because of the TRT? Mir has come out saying that his testosterone was low because he overtrained, but there are still some strange elements to his career, like the insane muscle mass he put on before the Carwin fight. Similarly, Bigfoot said when he popped the TRT limit after fighting Hunt that he had never taken testosterone replacement therapy before... which is odd, because a T-booster was his excuse for why he failed a prior drug test. It's all tying into that feeling at the moment where we have to evaluate just how we feel about legacies.

Overall though, I think the main reasons are that neither man ever really made it to the top, and that both of them are really quite fragile.

David: Their failures would have existed regardless of their foray into the underground corners of the performance enhancing universe. Wait, yea this is a feature of professionals sports; not a collection of bad apples. I've already commented ad nauseum about steroids, and the complicated nature of the moral outrage associated with it, so there's no reason to rehash it except to say I'm tired of talking about it.

And I agree they're underrated heavyweights? The problem for them is that they can look so awful in defeat, it almost negates their credibility in victory. Plus neither guy is likeable to so many fans; they have such a uniquely foreign presence/demeanor, it's hard to sympathize. Silva is just a walking talking genetic reminder of our cave painting past, and Mir seems like an otherwise articulate and cool guy until he speaks sincerely about ripping people's faces off, and wanting their lungs to cave in like he's the violent McGuffin of a John Carpenter film.

What are the stakes?

Phil: Oh boy. The stakes are essentially asking: who is more done? And that's what makes this fight so crushingly depressing. I really like both these fighters: Mir might not be quite as insightful as he thinks he is, but he's candid and thoughtful. I've always enjoyed Bigfoot's proud, cocky style. Both men have been those who are constantly looking to make technical improvements, and that's something I always like to see.

I'm just not sure that anyone can actually "win." It's closer to a stay of execution for either guy if he manages to pull off the victory. Silva can withstand a loss more than Mir can, but if he looks as unutterably dreadful as he did against Arlovski, it's going to be hard to imagine him fighting for much longer.

David: Remember when we talked about how we'd deal with the rubik's cube of despair that would be previewing Walsh vs. Kelly? This is like, a few big wins removed from that atmosphere. Mir is an injury riddled 35 year old. Silva is a 35 year old Megalodon.

Where do they want it?

Phil: Top control! Probably. Mir has a pretty vicious submission game, but he's been controlled from top position before, most notably by Brock and Overeem, and Bigfoot has a crushing top game. Likewise, however, Bigfoot has not been good at getting up from his back at all. He's just so big and so physically dense that he really struggles to stand up once he's put down. So top control is basically checkmate for either man

In terms of stand-up, Mir is a little more basic- left straight, lead uppercut, one-two. He tends to have little exit plan once he commits, and his relatively limited arsenal can get him timed and dropped. He doesn't have a great chin, and often shows a worrying lack of urgency in bad situations. I often get the impression that he's hunting for a single kill shot submission, as he gets hit repeatedly and slowly slides towards unconsciousness or a decision loss.

Bigfoot is a lot more diverse, packing effective leg kicks and long, straight punches. While slower than Mir, he hits harder and actually does a better job of taking his head off the center after his punches.

David: Yea this one doesn't require an awful lot of analysis. Antonio is fairly technical, though he's just lumbering enough to sabotage his own skills. Mir has a similar problem; technical, but really suffers from being a HW with limited movement. Even when he's doing all the little things right, he's still getting pasted.

The real challenge for both men is just trying to stay upright in a non embarrassing way. Mir had a really good run for a bit following his career altering accident. It's impossible to understate how far he's come, especially on the feet. If you pay attention, his striking is surprisingly complex, and layered. He's just not a good enough athlete (or rather, too much of a diminished one) to make it all sing. I don't see him getting Bigfoot down, and even if he does, Silva is educated enough on the ground to not lose outright, although I wouldn't be surprised if he does.

Insight from past fights?

David: Does this one count? Dude can't defend a double leg from Herring even with choreographers.

Phil: THAT IS AMAZING. Huerta is also in that film, apparently. That must be hard to watch, given that the soccer kick that Herring gives Mir is a picture-perfect copy of the one which got Huerta's head punted into the stands in OneFC.

Anyway, I think that the Cheick Kongo fight may give us an idea of Mir's plan. He knows as well as we do that Silva can be gotten to on the feet, so I expect to see him come out, pump the lead upper or fake the takedown, then come with the overhand left.

David: Why is that real fighters can't make a fake fight look good, but fake fighters can create outright poetry? I guess choreography is like anything else; you get what you pay for. Man that actor playing Herring's sidekick plays douchy so well. "Hoh oh hoh shit!"

X-Factors?

Phil: The main problem for Bigfoot is that he is sometimes an atrociously slow starter. Evan Dunham and Donald Cerrone can get away with coming out of the gate flat (to a certain extent), but if you're a heavyweight, you just can't afford to come out looking as purely leaden as Silva has in fights against Arlovski, Kyle and Cormier. This leads to another question- have these guys really deteriorated, or have they just been putting on performances which have been in line with their careers as a whole? Is there a version of Mir who beats Dos Santos, Barnett, or Overeem? A version of Bigfoot who could even compete with Cain? Anyway. Slow starting.

David: Well, given that they've been loaded to the gills before, it's difficult to say whether or not they ever deteriorated so much as fought long enough to face superior competition. It's like that silly Batman line; you either die a legend or fight long enough to see yourself become overrated on those internets out there. For Mir, I think you can say that given how good he became after his injuries, not having them may have hindered his ceiling.

Prognostication:

Phil: Two fragile but offensively potent fighters. This normally means that a finish is incoming, but who knows? That's what we thought for Hunt-Bigfoot, or Mir-Overeem. If both these guys were fighting at their peak, I think the best Bigfoot rather easily beats the best Mir, but there is literally no way of knowing which one of them turns up on Sunday. Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva by TKO, round 2.

David: Going back to your point about the Kongo fight, I actually like Mir in this one; or would if he wasn't so unpredictable. His power is not quite there, even with the large target Silva allows. So as boring as it is, Silva seems like the obvious choice. He's got just enough speed and power despite his frame to win outright against a fighter that has never proven to be durable. Antonio Silva by TKO, round 4.