Stephen Quinn, UFC - Across from the bright lights of the New York City skyline, the Ultimate Fighting Championship will return to Newark, New Jersey Saturday night, for what promises to be an action-packed night of fights that includes two championship belts that are up for grabs.
Across from the bright lights of the New York City skyline, the Ultimate Fighting Championship will return to Newark, New Jersey Saturday night, for what promises to be an action-packed night of fights that includes two championship belts that are up for grabs.
In the evening’s first championship bout, heavyweights Frank Mir and Shane Carwin will battle for the interim heavyweight title, and in the main event, Canadian superstar Georges St-Pierre puts his welterweight title on the line against hard-hitting British contender Dan Hardy. Read on for the fantasy breakdown of the co-main events of UFC 111, as well as the lightweight showdown between Jim Miller and Mark Bocek.
GEORGES ST-PIERRE VS. DAN HARDY
For the past three weeks, we have all been given access into the training camps of both Georges St-Pierre and Dan Hardy on Spike TV’s Primetime series. On Saturday night, the talk is over and St-Pierre, who has long sat supreme atop the welterweight division, will take on the heavy-handed Hardy.
Currently riding a six fight winning streak, Canadian superstar St-Pierre is looking to continue his reign as the welterweight champion. Making his debut inside of the Octagon at UFC 46, St-Pierre came into the UFC with one goal in mind – to become a world champion. After beating Karo Parisyan and Jay Hieron in his first two trips inside the Octagon, St-Pierre took on Matt Hughes for the welterweight crown. Unnerved at the prospect of taking on his fighting hero, St-Pierre was caught in an armbar as the first round expired. A rejuvenated St-Pierre then on to win five straight fights – with notable wins coming over Sean Sherk and BJ Penn. After his long string of victories, St-Pierre faced off with Hughes once again. This time, however, no matter how much he respected Hughes, he knew that once the Octagon gate closed, he had to have little respect for the then champion. That different mindset may have been all he needed – GSP beat Hughes in a one-sided affair to win the welterweight title. Looking as if he was going to be the champion for a long time, GSP, who was a heavy favorite in his first title defense against Matt Serra, his the lowest point of his career when the Long Island native shocked the champ by winning the fight in less than four minutes. After that fight, GSP knew that regardless of his opponent, there are no easy fights in the UFC. Looking back on the loss, it may have been the best thing to happen in his career. Showing the true champion that he is, GSP has put together a six fight winning streak against a “who’s who” of the welterweight division. After beating Josh Koscheck, he then went on to beat Matt Hughes to win the interim title. After putting UFC gold around his waist, GSP has looked nearly perfect – with wins over Serra, Jon Fitch, Penn, and Thiago Alves. On Saturday night, he’s looking to continue the business of cleaning out the division.
British sensation Hardy is looking to shock the world on Saturday night by bringing a UFC title back to the United Kingdom for the first time. Making the most of his four-fight tenure inside of the Octagon, the charismatic Hardy knows this will be the hardest test of his professional life. With wins over Akihiro Gono, Rory Markham, Marcus Davis, and most recently Mike Swick, Hardy quickly moved up the welterweight ladder. Although few outside of his inner circle are giving him a shot at winning, he believes his game plan and fighting style will be precisely what it takes to beat the current champ.
In St-Pierre’s last six fights, it’s hard to find a hole in his fight game. And considering his top-notch wrestling, speed, cardio, and ability to work out of any position, it may be hard to find an area where Hardy holds a significant edge. But if you go back to UFC 69, that may be just what Hardy is looking for. Known for his pinpoint accuracy and powerful punches, Hardy knows that if he connects, GSP may go down. Although GSP is arguably the most complete fighter in the game today, the one thing some people question is his ability to take a punch. That is exactly what Hardy wants to hear. When the Octagon gate closes, look for GSP to use his elite wrestling ability to take Hardy down and pound his way to victory. If GSP is able to bring him down at will, Hardy may be in for a long night, but if he’s able to keep the fight standing, the odds will start going in Hardy’s favor to score an upset knockout.
FRANK MIR VS. SHANE CARWIN
Due to a bout with diverticulitis that has kept current heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar from defending his title since July of 2009, the UFC has been forced to put an interim title up for grabs on Saturday night – with the winner getting a shot at Lesnar sometime this year.
After starting his UFC career by winning five of his first six fights inside the Octagon, Frank Mir quickly grabbed the attention of the mixed martial arts world at UFC 48 when he submitted Tim Sylvia to win the heavyweight crown. After that fight, it looked as if he would be the champion for a long time to come. But unfortunately for him, he was never able to defend that title. On a September day near his Las Vegas home in 2004, Mir was involved in a motorcycle accident that broke his femur and tore all the ligaments in his knee. With his return to the Octagon in question, he was forced to give up his title. Other than Mir and his closest friends and family, few believed that he could make it back to the top. But after a nearly two-year layoff, Mir returned to the Octagon with the hopes of getting back the title he felt never left him. In his first fight back, Mir didn’t look like the same fighter that had won UFC gold the last time he fought. After losing to Márcio Cruz, the questions about his fighting ability continued. Still not looking like the same fighter, Mir was able to pull off a lackluster victory over Dan Christison, but he then suffered another setback by being knocked out in less than two minutes by Brandon Vera. To make matters worse, he suffered a shoulder injury while training to fight Antoni Hardonk at UFN 9. Mir finally took on Hardonk at UFC 74, and nearly three years after his accident, Mir finally started to look like the fighter that once held the heavyweight title. After winning a one-sided fight by submission against Hardonk, Mir was quoted as saying in the Octagon, “I’m back.” Yes, he was. Mir then took on UFC newcomer Brock Lesnar. Showing the heart that some people had questioned in the past, Mir was flustered early and was on the verge of defeat when he caught Lesnar in a knee bar. By beating Lesnar, Mir had finally made his way back into title contention. At UFC 92, Mir beat Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira in the second round via TKO. Now with the interim title, Mir, once again, took on Brock Lesnar to unify the heavyweight title. Unlike the first time the two faced one another, Mir was unable to stop the powerful storm of Lesnar – losing by TKO in the second round. In response, Mir bulked up to compete with the giants of the division, and rebounded with a first round win over Cheick Kongo. Now he gets a shot at the belt again, with a rubber match with Lesnar being the ultimate prize should he win on Saturday.
Fighting out of Denver, Colorado, Shane Carwin hasn’t wasted any time making an impression inside the Octagon. Carwin made his debut at UFC 84 with a forty-four second knockout victory over Christian Wellisch. In his next two victories, Carwin beat Neil Wain and Gabriel Gonzaga in a combined two minutes and forty seconds. After this string of success, Carwin was scheduled to fight Brock Lesnar. But due to illness, Lesnar was forced to withdraw from the fight. Carwin will finally get the opportunity to fight Lesnar should he win on Saturday night.
With an interim heavyweight title on the line, it will be interesting to see how both fighters respond if the fight nears the twenty-five minute mark. For Carwin, this may be the biggest question mark for him. With all three of his UFC fights lasting less than a total round, people are questioning how he will respond if this fight goes into the fourth or fifth. For Mir, people have always questioned his cardio – look for him to try and silence the critics the longer the fight goes.
Seemingly increasing his standup ability with every time he enters the Octagon, expect Mir to try and keep the fight standing – hoping that he ends it the same way he did against Kongo, with a quick knockdown followed by a submission. Although he prefers to be on his feet, he is still very dangerous on his back. Potentially the best jiu-jitsu artist in the heavyweight division, Mir may only be a Carwin mistake away from ending the fight with a submission. With the size of Carwin, the one place Mir does not want to end up in is pinned against the cage with Carwin on top.
For Carwin, a Division II National champion wrestler, there’s no place he’d rather be than on the mat with Mir pinned against the cage – working his ground and pound. However, in order for Carwin to bring Mir to the canvas, he will need to get into striking distance. And although Carwin may not be as polished a boxer as Mir, he still has the power to end the fight with a single punch.
JIM MILLER VS. MARK BOCEK
Fighting in his home state of New Jersey, Jim Miller wants nothing more than to put on a good performance in front of his local fans. Winner of three straight fights, Miller knows that a fourth consecutive victory in the lightweight division will put him right in the thick of things.
A native of Ontario, Mark Bocek is currently riding a three fight winning streak as well. And although Bocek holds multiple titles in jiu-jitsu competitions across the globe, nothing would compare to putting UFC gold around his waist, so by putting together an impressive victory this weekend, he knows that he will be one step closer to fighting in a five round championship fight.
With the jiu-jitsu skills of Bocek, look for Miller to try and keep the fight standing for as long as he can. He knows that there’s no other place Bocek would rather be than in the guard of his opponent. If the fight ends up on the canvas, look for Miller – who is a BJJ brown belt - to be comfortable, but still looking to get the fight back on its feet, where he holds a decided edge over his foe.