Would a Win Over Cro Cop Make Frank Mir a Real Contender or the New Gatekeeper?

Brandon HinchmanCorrespondent ISeptember 20, 2010

NEW YORK - MARCH 24:  Frank Mir of Las Vegas, Nevada speaks at a press conference for UFC 111 at Radio City Music Hall on March 24, 2010 in New York City.  Mir will face Shane Carwin of Denver, Colorado in the INterim heavyweight title bout.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Frank Mir was scheduled to fight in a rematch against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 119.

Many fans remember the Round 2 TKO stoppage, and this fight was to ensure that Mir's first victory was not a fluke, as Big Nog is amongst the most commended heavyweights in the world.

Alas, due to an injury, Big Nog had to pass up the opportunity to stay in the mix of the UFC heavyweight division for now, and in steps Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic.

Cro Cop is coming off a surprising submission victory over Patrick Barry. To give you some perspective, the last time Cro Cop won by a traditional submission was was in 2004 against Kevin Randleman. Josh Barnett did tap to Cro Cop when they fought in Pride, but it was due to a strike.

In his latest match, Frank Mir had one of his most memorable fights, though it was in the form of a loss instead of a win.

Shane Carwin, the recent contender for the UFC heavyweight championship, seemingly turned on a switch around three minutes into his fight with Mir and after multiple uppercuts and a ref with possibly the worst timing ever, Mir was finished.

Considering his win over Big Nog after his win over Brock Lesnar, which was followed by a bad loss to Lesnar, a quick, authoritative victory over Kongo and his worst loss ever to a once seemingly undefeated Carwin, Mir has been hit and miss in his last few fights.

The trend? He's certainly good enough to pull out victories over very talented heavyweights, but those victories are sorely overshadowed by such devastating losses at the hands of Lesnar and Carwin. 

So the question is whether or not a win over Cro Cop would have enough weight to officially put Mir back in the mix of things. 

Cro Cop has done well in his last couple of fights. He was supposed to fight Ben Rothwell at UFC 110, but Rothwell was injured and Anthony Perosh filled in and was consistently bested in all exchanges. As for the fight with Barry, it took all three rounds, but Cro Cop finished the fight.

It might be safe to say that had Cro Cop actually fought and beaten Rothwell and then beat Barry, a Mir victory may hold enough weight to put him back in the mix to face other aspiring champions, like the loser between Lesnar and Velasquez.

However, even a win over Cro Cop may, at best, be a water treading accomplishment in a division where the heaviest hitters are currently at the top. In fact, Mir may become the new unofficial gate keeper to the heavyweight division if Gabriel Gonzaga loses to Brendan Shaub at UFC.   

Regardless of where a win would put Mir, a loss would be horrible for his position in the division. Mir holds a 13-5 MMA record and thus currently has a 72% success rate. Another loss would put him into the 68% bracket, which I've noticed is typically when the UFC gets antsy and considers cutting the fighter (unless, of course, they have hall of fame status or something comparable).

It isn't that a victory over Cro Cop doesn't hold enough weight to move up in the division. Instead, it's more about Mir demonstrating that he really can't handle the big boys of the division, or at least not Lesnar and Carwin.

It's true that a third fight with Lesnar is imminent, but it's nowhere near being on the horizon as Carwin made sure to really seal the deal in his impressive KO victory over Mir. A win would allow Mir to stay active in the division, and perhaps a good test for him would be Roy "Big Country" Nelson.

Otherwise, Mir appears to be in limbo in a division that has swollowed him up whole despite glimmers of expertise that keep his head above water, such as the decisive victory over Kongo, the noteworthy win over Big Nog and, of course, being the only man to ever beat current heavyweight champ Lesnar.

Does Mir have it in him to make another run at the title? Only time will tell.