There have been several match-ups over the years in the UFC where a friend has to face another friend in the Octagon.
Sometimes before the match-up begins the opponents will state how they wish they didn’t have to fight, while others have engaged in the fight and going as far as slapping hands and hugging during the bout.
Count Frank Mir and Roy Nelson as friends heading into their fight at UFC 130 this weekend, but don’t plan on seeing them high fiving after one of them lands a punch on the other.
Mir looks at Nelson as a friend before the fight, and after the fight, but during those 15 minutes in the cage, they are enemies and he will treat him as such until the final horn sounds.
“As far as when it comes down to the fight, I think the hard time a lot of people find with fighters is that if my wife were to get in the ring with me I would try to knock her out and choke her unconscious, no problem, I would flip the switch,” Mir commented on Wednesday.
“Any other day of the week we don’t have that. But that’s what makes it to where we’re up here, Roy and I are friends before the fight, I like the guy a lot, and after the fight as long as there’s nothing done inappropriately like a choke being held after the bell gets rung, which neither one of us has ever done anything like that, we’ll be friends afterwards regardless of the outcome.”
Mir believes to look at Nelson as anything less than the most dangerous fighter inside the cage is almost disrespectful because he knows if he hesitates for a just a moment, he may be the one staring up at the lights with the referee standing over him after just ending the fight.
“During that fight it doesn’t matter that we didn’t like each other before hand, trust me Roy’s going to try to knock my head off, I’m going to try to knock his head off, and if I can catch him in a choke I want him to go to sleep and I guarantee he would like to take my arm off and put it on his mantle. I’ve never tapped in a submission competition and I’ve never tapped in the UFC, I’m sure he would like to be the first one to create that happening,” Mir said.
Great rivalries with a lot of trash talking have become a staple in sports recently. The New York Jets and the New England Patriots. The Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics. The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. In MMA, Rashad Evans and Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson.
The list goes on and one, but for every great rivalry where trash talk exists, there are just as many great games, competitions or fights where the athletes involved don’t hold any ill will towards their opponents. It’s a sport and when the final bell sounds, the competition is over and everyone shakes hands and walks away.
“I think that one thing that everybody’s missing is this is a sport first,” Nelson commented. “It’s like playing basketball, football, we’re martial artists so we’re going out there to put on a show and basically have a job. When it’s the playoffs, it’s the playoffs, we’re going out there to win.”
Mir recalled watching a football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Chicago Bears when multi-time pro bowl safety John Lynch blasted Bears tight end John Allred.
Now that’s nothing unusual in the game of football, except in this case Lynch just happened to be married to Allred’s sister.
“I watched John Lynch knock out his brother in law in a football game, he was a tight end, and don’t tell me that wasn’t going to be a rough Christmas,” Mir joked. “I’m sure before the game and after the game they were cool with each other, but when his brother in law came over the middle, Lynch put the helmet to him and put him out. That’s just the way it is, it’s a sport.”
Both fighters agreed that all the motivation they need going into fight night is winning. Mir doesn’t have to hate Nelson and Nelson doesn’t have to hate Mir. They just have to think about what it’s like to lose, and rest assured nobody will be pulling punches in this fight.
“When you compete all you want to do is win,” said Nelson.
The two friends will become opponents on Saturday night at UFC 130 in the co-main event in Las Vegas.