UFC 146: How would you deal with Cigano? BJJ world champ offers his take

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Heavyweight champion Junior "Cigano" dos Santos facing Frank Mir at the pre-UFC 146 press conference / UFC publicity photo

UFC 146 is going down this Saturday in Las Vegas, and there’s no shortage of expectations surrounding what’s about to transpire there. In the main event of the evening, heavyweight title-holding knockout artist Junior Cigano has a high-caliber Jiu-Jitsu specialist in Frank Mir challenging him for his strap.

With his crisp boxing, to nine out of ten experts the current champ is the odds-on favorite to keep his title—the GRACIEMAG.com team too is convinced another “Cigano” win is imminent.

The opinion is shared by Gilbert “Durinho” Burns, who has the utmost confidence in his friend and boxing coach Luiz Dórea, and his money is on a knockout from the reigning title holder.

“Cigano is a monster of an athlete, and he began his career in Jiu-Jitsu. Rodrigo Artilheiro was with me at the TUF Brazil house, and he mentioned how crazy his endurance is. He’s 28 years old, started at 22—he hasn’t been in MMA long but has already shown what he’s made of. I don’t think this one leaves the first round—Cigano drops him. But even if it does go longer, Cigano is in much better physical shape than Frank Mir,” opined Durinho, echoing statements made by Mir, to whom the longer the fight goes, the better.

If you were in Frank Mir’s place, what would you do? What would you do against a fighter with heavy hands and pinpoint accuracy?

“If I were Mir, I’d try to take him to the ground. I’d try to clinch, get the takedown. I’d try to be Rousimar “Toquinho” in there; I’d attack his heel, and always stay clear of Cigano’s hands. To beat a monster like that, you have to frenetically work at taking it to the ground. I’d work on improving my footwork, get good at faking punches and try capitalizing from the clinch. Training would have to be like this: getting the takedown, working on wrestling and going for the foot when on the ground,” said Gilbert in analysis.

The TUF Brazil participant doesn’t, however, feel Mir will be successful in his mission.

“I expect a first-round knockout from the Brazilian. Cigano’s punching is really crisp, he’s healthier for being younger, he has the confidence from being champion and he does an excellent job. All Cigano has to do is be calm and fight,” wagered the 2011 Jiu-Jitsu lightweight champion of the world.

“I think Frank Mir is going to mess up after the first punch lands. Being the champion, in my opinion Cigano doesn’t even need to press the action; he can just be calm, do his footwork and jab, because the knockout will surface,” said the black belt training partner of Vitor Belfort in closing.

Now what do you think, will the outcome of the fight be the one everyone is expecting? To you, can Frank Mir pull off a surprise? What would your strategy be?

UFC 146
MGM Arena, Las Vegas, USA
May 26, 2012

Junior Cigano vs Frank Mir
Cain Velasquez vs Antônio Pezão
Dave Herman vs Roy Nelson
Shane Del Rosario vs Stipe Miocic
Lavar Johnson vs Stefan Struve
Darren Elkins vs Diego Brandão
Edson Barboza vs Jamie Varner
Jason Miller vs C.B. Dollaway
Jacob Volkmann vs Paul Sass
Dan Hardy vs Duane Ludwig
Kyle Kingsbury vs Glover Teixeira
Mike Brown vs Daniel Pineda

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