Former champ rematches Big Nog in Toronto
As he gets ready to celebrate the three-year anniversary of his win over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, which could be argued was the biggest win of his career, Frank Mir will fight … Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
It’s a rematch that might not have made much sense until “Big Nog” upset Brendan Schaub at UFC 134 in August. Mir beat Nogueira with a second-round TKO at UFC 92 and won the interim heavyweight title in a fight he dominated. But Nogueira said in the days following the fight a staph infection had him in the hospital less than three weeks before the fight and affected his performance.
Still, without his win over Schaub, this may have been the rematch that never happened. Mir accepted the fight, which is the co-main event of UFC 140 on Saturday in Toronto. But he still may harbor a little aggravation for having to take it and essentially answer a question he thinks he already answered with his win nearly three years ago.
“You can say that you had an injured hand, but as far as I think, in general, any time that you state, ‘Well, I lost because of an injury,’ I think that’s a disrespect toward your opponent,” Mir said last week on a conference call with media members. “You know, the guy in front of you beat you, you didn’t perform maybe to 100 percent because of an injury. But that’s regardless. There are so many factors that go into winning a fight.”
So why take the fight? Well, even though Mir (15-5, 13-5 UFC) likely doesn’t believe he should have to, a victory could set the record straight and put a three-years-later exclamation point on his last win over Nogueira (33-6-1, 1 NC, 4-2 UFC).
“Obviously the UFC came forward and offered me the fight,” Mir said. “But the motivation for fighting it – it wasn’t like it wasn’t a clear-cut victory last time. There was a lot of words or circumstances thrown out in the last victory as far as how legitimate it could possibly be due to illnesses that Nogueira’s camp said that he had.”
To go along with becoming the only fighter besides Fedor Emelianenko to hold two wins over Nogueira, Mir believes it’s possible a win puts him right back in the title picture. Or at the very least, it gives him the ability to start asking about it.
“I think that the only advantage of the heavyweight division is it’s not that deep of a pool,” Mir said. “That’s just the nature of the business. If I’m victorious next weekend, that’s three wins in a row. I think I’ll stick my head up there again.”
Mir is as high as a -260 favorite against Nogueira. And insomuch as preparing for him now versus three years ago, Mir believes his opponent won’t be drastically different physically. But from a mental and emotional standpoint, Nogueira’s win over Schaub was huge – and Mir thinks that could play a factor.
“I honestly think after so many fights, I don’t think there should be that much of a style drift with him,” Mir said. “I think that he’s pretty much boxing on his feet, and jui-jitsu on the ground are going to be his strong suits. I think the one thing that’s probably helping right now is obviously after such a devastating win down in Brazil, I think that his confidence has to be up higher. And that’s a very dangerous thing for an opponent to have. You’ve seen all the sports when people’s confidence is high – that can be the difference between doing something well and not. Sometimes it’s not so much a technical hitch, it’s a confidence issue.”