For all the focus fixed on UFC 100, chances are, the milestone event won't be remembered as the celebration of an arbitrary number. While the card marks an appropriate point from which to reflect upon mixed martial arts' uneven journey, with due respect to
Indeed, the fights.
Saturday's pay-per-view card at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas -- technically event No. 133 under the organization's banner and, quite nicely, No. 100 of the Zuffa-era -- comes strong with a hyped heavyweight title, a potential classic for the UFC 170-pound championship and a contingent of well-matched undercard bouts.
The best event ever? No, not on paper at least. But it's pretty darn good and well worth the 50 bucks.
The evening's finale, a unification of the UFC heavyweight belt, features
In just five fights, Lesnar (3-1) seems poised to establish himself as the dominant figure in the UFC. And what a figure. Standing 6-foot-3, cutting down 20 pounds to make the division's 265-pound limit, with a chest as expansive as the American southwest, Lesnar, who turns 32 on Sunday, registers an 81-inch reach that pushes ham-fisted punches to their target.
Last November, against
Holding training camp a couple hours from Minneapolis near his home in Alexandria, Minn., Lesnar has a tight circle. Buoyed by his former Golden Gopher wrestling coaches, a hired-gun Brazilian jiu-jitsu instructor and the guidance of veteran MMA trainer
Talented, but at times lazy, Mir (12-3) saw his career derailed following a motorcycle accident in September 2004. He was three months removed from the most important win of his career, an arm-snapping submission against then-heavyweight champion
Their first go was a whirlwind. Fighting on adrenaline and athleticism, Lesnar swarmed Mir until inexperience forced him to tapout to a kneebar. Compared to where he was then, Lesnar enters the cage this weekend a full-fledged veteran -- and odds-on favorite.
Compared to most people, Mir is a giant. As tall as his rival, Mir is only the size of, say, Baltimore Ravens' linebacker
I picked Mir in the pair's first meeting, and I'm sticking with him in the rematch. It wouldn't surprise me one bit if Lesnar ran over Mir, but in the end, I prefer skill and experience over raw power and emotion.
For real MMA fans, however, let there be no doubt as to which of the two fights is better.
With the exception of a major hiccup against
Should he defeat Alves, St. Pierre will, in my mind, lay claim to the best welterweight in the history of the UFC, supplanting Hughes, who reigned from 2001 through 2006. Alves, a giant 170-pounder who will walk in to the cage closer to 190, is undoubtedly a threat. His striking and improving takedown defense mean the French-Canadian champ can't risk a mistake.
The only question is whether Alves (16-3) is solid enough in defending takedowns to remain on his feet. If not, forget it. St. Pierre will dominate and probably finish the 25-year-old.
• Rumored to be a UFC middleweight title-contender fight, head coaches from season nine of SpikeTV's
• Stuck behind G.S.P. in the welterweight division,
• Making his UFC debut, Japan's