On a rare Sunday night edition of UFC Fight Night, Frank Mir and Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva do battle at Heavyweight.
Both men fight themselves in a bit of a predicament. Together, they are 1-6-1 in their past four UFC contests, yet still find themselves in the mix as two of the most popular fighters in the Heavyweight division.
Mir, a former UFC champion, is best known for unmasking some of the hype that followed Brock Lesnar in their first meeting. Mir submitted Brock in round one of their 2008 fight, but would only win once more before being stopped by Lesnar in their rematch the following year. His title ambitions have been truncated since then, having only gone 4-5 since 2009. He has lost his last four bouts.
With the fire still burning, Mir knows a win is important come Sunday evening. At very least, he will find himself dissuaded from further competition with a loss. He might even be unemployed by the UFC; whose long-upheld three-loss threshold has been omitted for him already. Winless over five fights; and they'll have no choice but to take notice. The man who briefly held the UFC title just over ten years ago will wish to turn away on a much higher note.
For Silva, life isn't much better. For one, he doesn't have the title success of Mir, and won't be dealt any favors by the sport's largest promoter. First round knockouts against current and former champions Cain Velasquez and Andrei Arlovski haven't served as his only setbacks. His 2013 fight of the year candidate against Mark Hunt was daubed by a drug test failure. He needs a good, honest win this time out, and hasn't found many of those since entering the UFC.
After hanging his head high as a contender in Strikeforce and EliteXC, the 6'4 super-heavyweight has yet to put together a solid streak in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and is on the cutting board with a loss against Mir -- which would be his third in four fights.
This card will be held in Porto Alegre, Brazil, so it is expected that Silva has an advantage with his home crowd.
How will he deal with Mir's submission skills? What about his ability to absorb punishment, and hold his own in exchanges? Will Mir be able to take the gargantuan Heavyweight to the ground? Will the big man prove resilient or be trawled by his more polished opponent?
There are many questions lying within this fight; one, ironically, between two very familiar faces. The need for this win cannot be stressed enough from either man's outlook.
At 35, Mir may just be able to ride with what he knows. At least, that is what he will hope to do. You forget how to fight when you forget how to execute with the means you are given. Against a fighter named "Bigfoot", he'll have his means, so long as he can dodge a right hand or two.
Prediction: Frank Mir def. Antonio Silva by Knockout or Submission within two rounds.