Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira and Randy "The Natural" Couture's showdown at UFC 102 was a match-up that was years in the making, and it had fans on the edge of their seats in terms of excitement and pure entertainment. It all came to fruition on Saturday with Nogueira answering critics by showing a granite chin, great boxing skills, and a nullifying ground game to defeat Couture via unanimous decision. In the wake of the win, media began to wonder... where was this "Minotauro" in the Frank Mir fight at UFC 92?
The most interesting part about the media questioning following the event is that either most of them brushed off Nogueira's excuses at UFC 92 because "fighters never fight at 100%" or they were completely ignorant to the fact that Nogueira had already mentioned all of the injuries following his loss to Mir. In any case, there seems to be some intrigue to the argument that the staph infection that hospitalized Nogueira and the subsequent knee injury created his terrible performance, and it's pissing Frank Mir off.
Now, the media is beginning to fuel this desire for a rematch between Nogueira and Mir, whether they actually believe they are or not. Why the sudden interest? It's obvious that the difference in the performances from UFC 92 and UFC 102 is huge, and that's where the debate begins to truly rear its head. While Mir talks about how Nogueira is a "crybaby", many people are beginning to realize that fighters who fight with a few bumps, bruises, and strains isn't the same as having a completely torn meniscus and a debilitating staph infection in the preceding weeks to UFC 92 that actually hospitalized Nogueira. "Toughing it out" as Frank Mir would tell you isn't really an option in that case, yet Nogueira actually did that with horrible results.
But hey, this might be a good thing for the UFC. Now, the MMA media is shedding some light on these problems that Nogueira had, and it's bringing some heat from Frank Mir as he's now asking for a rematch to prove that he can easily crush Nogueira for a second time. Of course, his cocky attitude is making him come off as the ultimate heel in the debate, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing if you want to sell the fight to fans.
The clash of views among fans has also brought about some interesting topics. Why is Mir suddenly right in saying you shouldn't talk down opponent's victories when he did the same thing in the Brandon Vera bout? Why is it that some fans think most Brazilian fighters seem to make excuses following losses? The list of questions goes on and on, and those questions will only grow if Mir continues his campaign against Nogueira.
Regardless of what you think, Nogueira's comments and Mir's responses aren't anything new to the sport. Both men are striving for a rematch, but it's obvious that Mir's grand statements are intended to bring some heat to this possible rematch. While Nogueira's injuries probably affected his performance significantly, he did choose to fight that night. That still doesn't wipe away the fact that he was visibily lethargic in comparison to the Couture fight, and the fact that he still has terrible head movement. I imagine we'll see a whole lot more of Mir being disrespectful toward Nogueira as a lead-up to a potential rematch. Mir will just need to avoid being decimated by Kongo's hands first.