Most people feel Frank Mir is an elite fighter. Others would argue he has lost every time he was truly tested. But his victories over Antonio Nogueira and his initial victory over Brock Lesnar tell us he is a force to be reckoned with, and his quick elimination of Cheick Kongo tells us he belongs-- at the very least-- in the heavyweight top 10. But the question is, where does Frank Mir go now?
The betting odds were in Frank Mir's favor pre-fight with Shane Carwin. He was looking to be in the best shape of his life at the weigh ins, and his motivation seemed more urgent than ever. It has been said many times by UFC commentators that Frank Mir's greatest challenge is his motivation-- that when he comes in shape he wins. But after a disappointing performance vs. Carwin, it looks like Frank Mir's chances of getting a rubber match with Brock Lesnar are slim.
Herein lies a problem for Frank Mir, who recently stated he would rather beat up Brock Lesnar then win the championship again. Mir's comments regarding Lesnar have at times seemed fanatical, obsessive, and at times disturbing. His harshest quote came when he said he wanted Lesnar to be the first person to die in the octagon. Clearly he wants a third match with Brock Lesnar badly. But now, his greatest motivation for fighting doesn't seem likely to happen. So what now?
If Shane Carwin beats Brock Lesnar, then maybe Mir will get his chance at revenge. But if Lesnar wins, there's a strong possibility these two competitors will not meet each other again in the octagon. No matter who wins, it will be a while before Frank Mir gets another shot at either man, so he should definitely beat someone of significance before a possible rubber match if he is to make his case. Here are some possible paths for Frank Mir that I think are compelling and could serve him well:
Frank Mir vs. Cain Velasquez:
This would be the greatest way to answer the question mark beside Frank Mir's name. If he can beat Cain Velasquez decisively, he may have a case for fighting Brock Lesnar a third time. Cain Velasquez is essentially a smaller, less powerful, albeit faster version of Brock Lesnar. His style of fighting is very similar, and his wrestling pedigree is similar in quality. If Frank Mir lost to Cain Velasquez, we would know for sure that a rubber match with Brock Lesnar simply wouldn't be sensible. But a quick victory over Velasquez would most definitely strengthen Mir's standing.
Frank Mir vs. Gabriel Gonzaga
Both Gonzaga and Mir have a lot in common. They are both BJJ blackbelts, both have heavy hands, and they've both been getting knocked out a lot lately. A fight between Frank Mir and Gonzaga would be a battle to determine who's the best at their given style. Gonzaga's size would help Mir make the case for contendership against the bigger heavyweights if he won, and it would prove he really is the best at his style of fighting. A win for Gonzaga would be a huge career rebound, as it would likely place him back in the top 10.
Frank Mir vs. Roy Nelson
Roy Nelson has looked impressive so far in UFC. Fighting 2-0 in UFC, both wins being quick knockouts, Roy Nelson is almost in the mix for contendership. But he needs stiffer competition. A victory over Frank Mir would be exactly what Roy Nelson would need to get placed into the top 5 heavyweights of UFC. For Frank Mir, a victory over Roy Nelson could do two things. If Mir won by submission, it could showcase him as a technical master, as Roy Nelson too is known for his BJJ black-belt and grappling achievements. If Mir won the fight by knockout, it would give much needed credibility to his self-touted improvements in standup.
Frank Mir has a difficult path ahead if he is going to find a way back into title contendership. Anyone he faces is going to have to be a top notch competitor, and he'll have to win decisively if he wants to fight Brock Lesnar again.