Despite their volatile history with one another, Mir seems genuinely concerned for the hulking Minnesotan’s well-being.
"He’s a pretty tough guy," Mir said. "If anybody can get through it, it has to be him. I want him to be able to be there for his kids. Do I still want to go in there and rip his arm off? Absolutely."
With Lesnar on the sidelines indefinitely, talk has inevitably turned to the creation of potential interim title fights. Mir, who was interim champion between December 2008 and July 2009, thinks the UFC would do well to steer clear of such scenarios.
"I hate interim titles," Mir said. "I think it’s stupid. It’s retarded. It’s confusing to fans. Let [Lesnar] keep the belt [until he can fight again], or go ahead and put it away. Either he can defend it, or he can’t. If he can’t defend it in a year, strip him of the title. I’ve lived on both sides of it. If we can avoid it, let’s avoid it."
If Lesnar can return and successfully defend his title, and if Mir defeats Kongo or potentially another challenger, then the rubber match between these two is not an outlandish idea. After Mir's loss at UFC 100, the domination of Lesnar seemed to deflate any idea of a third fight in addition to undercutting the value of Mir's first win.
You also have to hand it to Mir: a fighter who can provoke more than he excites can still create opportunities for himself. He's obviously still a relevant heavyweight, so outside of his self-promotion there's viability to his title shot candidacy. But clearly his obsession with avenging the loss to Lesnar remains Mir's professed raison d'etre. And as long as he has the ability to at least talk as if a rematch is necessary for himself and the heavyweight division, I suspect he'll get it. I also suspect he'll create heat and intrigue.
As for the interim title argument, I don't buy the argument that such titles are confusing for fans. The more relevant question is what value-add does an interim title offer? Other than giving a belt to a top contender when there is a temporarily absent champion, the interim belt offers little.
But all this talk of Lesnar when Mir faces a very tough Kongo seems misplaced. The real question for Mir is: what's the back-up plan? If Lesnar can't return, what then now?