Frank Mir Flashback

Yours truly talking Mir on June 20, 2006 just prior to his fight with Dan Christison at UFC 61:

I've pored over all of the MMA message boards and websites; I've searched Google to see if his name has been mentioned in any news or online articles; and I've listened to every major piece of MMA media (tv shows, PPV specials, radio shows). It is as if Frank Mir disappeared, hiding from the spotlight of attention for fear of overexposure. Hell, even Mark Kerr made some waves recently at AFC when he failed to fight Wes Sims and Kerr is as relevant as Fred Ettish to the modern UFC roster.

In some sense, of course, this is all understandable: his long absence from the Octagon due to his motorcycle accident made fans impatient, though it did help to create some anticipation for an eventual and majestic return. His absence was still forgivable until Mir was stripped of the title and Arovski beat Sylvia for the Interim Heavyweight Championship (in convincing fashion, no less). And truthfully, that was still all forgivable since the interim champ isn't really the champ, just a champ.

But then something strange happened. Gone was the anticipation of his return; gone were the endless "what if's" that surrounded his progress and talk of his injury; gone were the circulations of his name as a rightful holder or even contender to the belt. Mir was gone so long that even mentioning his name and the belt in the same sentence was no longer coherent.

To boot, the UFC had been building Arlovksi in his absence very successfully and with his reign of terror in 2005, Arlovski made himself extremely marketable. A series of wins via KO and a metrosexual makeover do wonders for a fighter's career. At this point, it is clear the UFC realized that hyping Mir over Arlovki no longer resonated with fans and wasn't going to give their current golden boy the attention he and they needed.

But none of this is particularly controversial or difficult to figure out. What is difficult to understand, for me at any rate, is why the lack of coverage continues. After all, Mir is fighting on the UFC 61 card on July 8. And since his career depends on this win, you'd think a little more attention would go his way (however, the fight between Rodriguez and Rizzo was a must-win for both and they still failed to impress).

Perhaps the MMA media burned out on coverage of an eventual Mir comeback. Perhaps there is information circulating among the MMA elite that I'm not privy to which makes clear Mir's comeback will never happen. Truth is I don't know and I'm still speculating as to why this is the case. But what I do know is the current UFC Heavyweight roster could use a shot in the arm and Mir is a man who could do it. Like the Count of Monte Cristo (ok, the analogy doesn't quite work), Mir the forgotten fighter returning to rightfully claim what is his would make for an extremely compelling story line. Understandably, after his loss to Pe De Pano the UFC is apprehensive about getting behind him for fear of having egg on their face yet again. But if Mir can muster the will and the ability to win again, 2006/2007 would make for some interesting heavyweight fights in the UFC.

How would up-and-comer Brandon Vera fare against Mir? What about Abu Dhabi Champ Monson? Could Mir submit him like he did Travern? And if he made it to that point, what about a re-match with Sylvia? Would he be as successful this time? And can Mir pull of the submission win over Arlovski? Can he regain the dominance he once held over the heavyweights?

It is stunning to read blog posts from over two years ago to see just how much has changed in modern MMA. And the resurrection of Frank Mir from undercard ghost to Interim UFC heavyweight champion is nothing short of stunning. Mir got a second chance on a career that was inches away from falling off of a cliff. A stunning turnaround for a career and a personal transformation for a person.

Congratulations, champ.

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