Frank Mir and Andrei Arlovski have many things in common: both are former UFC heavyweight champions and esteemed veterans of the sport, both have suffered career-threatening setbacks and persevered through adversity, and both men are ranked in the top 10 at 36-years-old.
Mir was on a four-fight losing skid and seemingly on the brink of retirement in 2014, but two back-to-back knockouts over Antonio Silva and Todd Duffee have reinvented the jiujitsu ace as a top contender. 'The Pitbull' walks a similar path; Arlovski almost retired in 2011 after a series of devastating losses in StrikeForce and Affliction, but the Belarusian bit down on his mouth piece and climbed his way back up the heavyweight ladder, where he now sits as the #4 ranked heavyweight in the world.
Arlovski not impressed with Werdum's performance
MMA veteran Andrei Arlovski disccused Fabricio Werdum's performance against Cain Velasquez and discusses his motivations for fighting.
Given their shared trials and tribulations, Frank Mir was reluctant to accept a fight with Arlovski when the UFC called him after beating Todd Duffee at UFC Fight Night 71.
"I have a lot of respect for Andrei. He's a guy that if my kids were to tell me right now they were fans of Andrei, I would completely cultivate that," Mir said to Adam Hill of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "Here's a guy who was at the top. He went from the pinnacle of our sport to getting cut, signing with other organizations, losing more and he's getting put out cold. Everyone is saying he's done, his chin is gone, he needs to retire and this guy doesn't listen to anybody. He just said, 'Nope, I'm going to keep moving forward and figure out a way.' He's better now."
The two-time world champion would have preferred to fight another contender and perhaps fought Arlovski for the heavyweight title instead.
"In one sense, I'm not happy about it on a social level. I think we both have a lot to offer the sport and I don't want to see either one of us derailed right now. I would have been much happier with this situation if we could have skipped each other at this point. I could have fought someone else in the top three and he could have fought Werdum for the title and then we could have faced each other in a title fight instead if he would have won," Mir said.
"That would have been the ideal situation for me. To say here's two guys that everyone counted out and said their careers are over. They figured out ways to move forward and persevere and now they're back."
Despite his reluctancy, Mir accepted the fight with Arlovski and the two veterans will battle in the co-main event for the UFC 191 pay-per-view on September 5th, in Las Vegas, Nevada.