The heavyweight division has long been the darling of combat sports. The idea of larger than average men pounding away on each other keeps fans coming back for more. Unfortunately, both the boxing and mixed martial arts heavyweight groupings have been very stagnant; regardless of what promoters will tell you. Looking towards the UFC's Pay Per View on Saturday, the promotion needs a great showing out of both Frank Mir and Josh Barnett. Yet, success from “The Warmaster” carries much more weight.
A former UFC heavyweight champion in his own right, Barnett has become a cult hero of sorts within the MMA world. Whether its his way of making his grappling style seem exciting or his penchant for pro wrestling style open workouts, he's grown to be loved in a sport that once shunned him. Still, there has been a recent change in his value as a heavyweight and the UFC will need him to win and win convincingly against Mir for them to make use of his hype.
Frank Mir has consistently been one of the top heavyweights in the sport for nearly a decade. He's remained ranked within the top ten to fifteen of the sport. Since returning from his motorcycle accident that threatened his whole career he's been on up and down streaks. When he loses, it's always to guys who are worthy of carrying the UFC strap. He's a fan favorite who knows how to sell a fight. Unfortunately, it is hard to see him defeating any of the men at the top of the division; especially when most of them have already battered him around the Octagon.
That is why the promotion needs Barnett to win this coming Saturday. Beyond Fabricio Werdum and Travis Browne, the division does not have the contender depth that is present in nearly every other weight class. Having Barnett win gives the UFC the opportunity to promote a new name who may not be as popular with the mainstream fight base. Barnett does have a following, but that is mostly made up of fans that consume MMA at a higher rate than the casual viewer. A victory this weekend could quickly change Barnett's position within the weight class.
The UFC will never openly root for one fighter over another. However, better business moves do lie in one fighter finding a way to defeat another. This weekend's co-main event bout between Josh Barnett and Frank Mir is yet another example of the UFC standing on the cusp of creating another name for their promotion. And that name is “The Warmaster.”