Frank Mir celebrates after defeating Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 92. Photo by UFC.com
At UFC 140 next weekend, former UFC Heavyweight champion Frank Mir faces Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the semi-main event. The fight is a rematch from UFC 92, where Mir defeated Minotauro to claim the interim UFC crown. At the time, Nogueira was an incredible 31-4-1 with his only loses since 2000 coming at the hands of Fedor Emelianenko and Josh Barnett. He was the heavy favorite to Mir, who was only a few fights removed from his terrible comeback run in 2006. But Frank Mir pulled off an incredible upset, not only defeating Nogueira, but stopping him with stand-up - a feat no man had yet accomplished.
After the fight, talk began to surface of Nogueira suffering a staph infection, and people began to question Mir's win. Now, the narrative of the UFC 140 rematch is largely based around the idea of Mir proving that the win was not a fluke.
But Frank Mir doesn't see the story that way.
[T]here's nothing to prove there.
In his recent blog post over at SportsNet, Mir outlines exactly why this shouldn't be the story of the fight:
I've been asked if I want to "prove" whether my second-round TKO of Big Nog was legitimate or not, but, quite honestly, there's nothing to prove there.
I won the last fight, which took place three years ago in Las Vegas, because I was the better fighter on the night. After the fight there were all sorts of excuses that Nog was hurt, that he had a staph infection but I personally don't think his staph infection played much part in the fight itself, or the result at the end of it all.
I think I would have beaten him in the exact same manner, TKO in a couple of rounds, staph infection or not. Maybe without the problem he could have increased his pace and tempo a little bit more, but, in hindsight, we really didn't fight that type of fight anyway. He fought a very calm and calculated type of fight and he looked to pick me apart with single shots from range.
If we'd started having a hard grappling match and Nogueira backed off or refused to engage then, yes, it could have attributed the win to him not being 100 per cent on the night. I could have looked at that scenario and said, "Yeah, Nogueira wasn't really Nogueira tonight."
As it turned out, though, that didn't happen at all and I don't feel there's any reason I need to "prove" anything regarding that result.
Me punching him in the chin repeatedly had nothing to do with a staph infection, believe me. I could be sick as hell going into a fight, but I still remember and can perform the necessary techniques to get me out of trouble. The problem is, you can't keep repeating those techniques over a length of time, as you have nothing much in the tank. Nogueira lost that fight because my striking technique was better than his and that could be the reason he loses this rematch, too.
Mir's last point, about Nog forgetting his fundamentals and leaving his chin exposed, is hard to argue with. That was a fundamental issue for Minotauro in the first fight right from the opening bell. But it's also a bit unfair of him to say that Nog fought a "calm and calculated fight" without acknowledging that the reason for this choice could have been the illness.
Regardless of what happened leading into UFC 92, today two things are clear. 1. Frank Mir defeated Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and he did it fair and square. He was the better man that night. 2. Despite that, some critics still think Mir does have to prove something. And at UFC 140, he'll have his chance to silence them once again.
This section on the first fight is just an excerpt from the lengthy, and fascinating blog. I strongly encourage you to read the entire article, as Mir goes into the changes he's made to his training regime as he has gotten older, and the kind of sacrifices and drive it takes to succeed. Mir has always been one of the most eloquent fighters, and it's great to see this kind of real insight into his mind heading into a big fight.