by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Winning an Ultimate Fighting Championship title could be considered the greatest achievement for any fighter, but for Frank Mir, working his way back to the top of the heavyweight ladder could eventually be seen as his greatest achievement after a motorcycle accident almost sidelined his career altogether.
The former champion will hope to put his name back into contender’s status when he faces former WWE superstar Brock Lesnar on Saturday night at UFC 81.
With Lesnar set to make his UFC debut, the majority of the attention on the upcoming fight seems to lie primarily on the former WWE wrestler, but Mir understands the importance of a fight of this magnitude, which played into why he accepted the fight against Lesnar in the first place.
“First off, you weigh out the pros and cons of every match-up in your head and you know, off the bat, the only thing that worried me was that people weren’t going to give a lot of respect for Lesnar for the fact (he’s) coming from only one fight in MMA, and the pro wrestling background,” said Mir in an interview with MMAWeekly Radio.
“People are now paying attention to the fact that he was an NCAA wrestling champion, has an excellent wrestling background, real wrestling, and the fact that he has such a large name brought a lot to the table for me.”
From day one in the UFC, Lesnar will be one of the biggest names to ever step into the Octagon because of his former day job with the WWE, and while Mir understands the celebrity of fighting someone of Lesnar’s status, he is absolutely not looking past the danger in this fight.
“Every heavyweight in the UFC division is dangerous. There is nobody I can think of right now that I’m like ‘whoa, I can walk in there half asleep and kill this guy!” commented Mir. “Everybody poses a threat, that’s why you never know who’s going to win till they fight. Lesnar has a bigger name than most anybody else in the UFC because of his former background, so that just posed that much more reward.”
Many expect this fight to end up on the ground due to Lesnar’s extensive wrestling background, and Mir, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, feels that will play directly into his best asset.
“Most people know to try to avoid being inside my guard and I’ve had to learn how to fight jiu-jitsu from the top,” Mir said. “But in this fight it looks like I’m going to be able to use a lot of half guard and closed guard maneuvers, because that’s his style. And no matter what training he’s done, even if he tries to throw punches and back up to use his wrestling to counter my takedowns, eventually he’s going to take me down.”
Mir also feels that this match-up is very smart matchmaking for the UFC because the winner is not only a star in the making, but also an instant contender in the heavyweight division.
“I can see where there’s really no losing for the UFC in this fight,” stated Mir. “I win, I’m back into title contingency, and they have another heavyweight now who now has a lot more name recognition because I have a victory over Brock Lesnar, in a highly watched match. He wins, he has a win over a former champion. So it’s a legitimate statement that he belongs in the UFC, and he can start moving forward.”
As previously mentioned, Mir has been on the comeback trail for the better part of the last three years following the motorcycle accident that almost stopped his career, but the former UFC heavyweight champion no longer says that he’s back to his old form and will now let the fight tell the story.
“That’s one of those things where I’ll talk a lot and more or less it’s going to have to be proven the night of the fight,” said Mir of his performance.
He is confident about his chances facing Lesnar, but he’s also realistic as to what he needs to do to pull off a win in this pivotal heavyweight match-up.
“Definitely a finish cause that’s the only way I’m going to win,” said Mir. “I’m not going to out-wrestle Lesnar for 15 minutes and put him on his back and hold him down. So for me to win I either have to take his arm or neck, or knock him upside his head.”
Frank Mir will get his chance on Feb. 2 when he faces Brock Lesnar at UFC 81 in Las Vegas.