UFC 164 Henderson / Pettis is only a few weeks around the corner and has a great deal of interest from the fans, but the co-main is also a fight of particular interest as it sees a clash between two heavyweight combatants and long-time MMA staples, Frank Mir and Josh Barnett.
For Mir this is an important fight, because he’s on a 2 fight losing streak and needs to put an end to the skid and at age 35, a third loss would probably entice talk of retirement.
For Barnett it’s important, because it’s his return to the UFC (been out since 2002) and at age 34, whatever fights he gets in the UFC (now) will probably be his last kick-at-the-can, in terms of fighting.
In speaking with “Fight Hub TV”, Barnett’s trainer Erik Paulson discussed “The Warmaster’s” upcoming August 31rst bout and gave his take on the match and his thoughts on a Barnett / Cormier re-match.
Apparently Barnett has been sick, but is feeling better and Paulson feels that Josh is going to have a great camp and that “he’ll be more than ready for Frank.”
He believes that both fighters prefer to stand, but as both are accomplished ground fighters that the fight could go anywhere and that it could well come down to who’s in better shape.
He feels that Mir is the one that has the pressure on him to win, but regardless of a loss, “being a great commentator as he is and being a big part of the UFC as he has been, a good poster-child, win or lose, he’ll still remain in the UFC obviously, because he’s a great contender and a force to be reckoned with.”
Paulson believes it will be an “exciting” fight, because both have “very similar styles”, however, he did have one word of advice for Mir in the fight though and that was this, “be careful pullin’ guard.”
Paulson said he was happy to see Barnett in the UFC and that it was the only real option for him at this, the tail-end of his career, saying of it “he needs to be in the UFC, where else ya gonna go?” Simply put, he wanted Barnett in the promotion, because he wanted to see him fight the best, rather than take “paydays” in another promotion and that a bout with Mir was a match he’s always wanted to see.
He says of Mir that he doesn’t employ his greatest strength enough, which is his grappling and that he focuses too much on his striking. As a Mir fan, I’d have to agree.
In terms of goals for the fight, Paulson wants fans to walk away from the fight saying Barnett made a “statement and a fast one statement, at that.”
As to a re-match with Cormier, Paulson said if it happens it happens, but that Daniel is a beast who can’t be taken down and is very good with his hands, however, “any fight he (Barnett) is going to get is going to be a hard match-up”, so if Cormier is in the line-up, then he’s in the line-up and the fight will happen.
As to Mir / Barnett, I think this is a great match and will tell us a great deal about both fighters. Mir must win this fight to remain relevant and maybe to even continue on in the UFC. Barnett on the other hand, has far less pressure on him and a loss out of the gate won’t mean a great deal.