To sum up Frank Mir's match with Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic at UFC 119, a few words come to mind—dull and boring with an unexpected ending.
Mir was once the UFC heavyweight champ, the title of which he took by force from Tim Sylvia by way of a well-earned submission which broke Sylvia's arm.
After taking a while to get his mojo back from a bad motorcycle accident, Mir succeeded in three consecutive wins, one of which was the current heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar. Mir barely survived that match to sink a kneebar.
Then came the Lesnar rematch, and Mir was severely beaten. A comeback, one round victory against Cheick Kongo put Mir back on the map to potentially fight for the UFC heavyweight championship, and then Shane Carwin all but killed Mir.
Mir then fought Cro Cop, and after nearly three full rounds of boring, overcautious combinations, a seemingly diluted Mir won by KO against an aged, questionably motivated Cro Cop.
Holding a 73 percent rate, Mir is certainly "in the game," but the back-and-forth wins and losses speak for themselves. Screaming even louder was Mir's performance against Cro Cop.
Where was the Mir that faced Lesnar, Kongo, and Carwin? When he faced those fighters, he was undoubtedly more aggressive in his standup and had enough confidence to stand with a massive wrestler he barely survived against in their first match, a world class kickboxer, and a guy who had a 12-0 record with nobody leaving the first round, typically by way of KO.
At the end of a fight, a win is a win. But many fans could likely not help comparing the Mir that faced Cro Cop to the Mir we've known in his last few fights.
Where was his drive to win by making an example of Cro Cop to the world like he did against Kongo? Where was the Mir who was obsessed with once again fighting for the heavyweight championship while beating Lesnar along the way?
It seems that either Mir was really unprepared after having trained specifically for Big Nog, who was scheduled to face Mir before an injury kept him out, or Mir has lost his mojo. Sure, he did win by knockout, but with merely a minute to go in the fight, it was clearly leading towards a decision.
While Gabriel Gonzaga may still be the fighter that Joe Silva and Dana White throw to up-and-coming prospects, such as Brendan Schaub, after UFC 119, can we really assume that Mir still has what it takes to get to the top of the division and have a second (or third) chance at victory after already losing to the two biggest, most powerful guys?
A lot of questions surround Mir at the moment, and there aren't enough answers to make a determination at this time. One thinks he would have been just as cautious, if not more, in a rematch against Big Nog, which wouldn't help Mir's case, but that doesn't mean we ought to jump to conclusions about Mir's future.
However, if Mir does intend to get back to the top and once again fight for the UFC heavyweight championship, he definitely needs to step his aggression up a notch. Nobody would disagree that a loss to Cro Cop would have looked bad, and Mir was right to have a fair degree of caution.
But despite the KO victory, the bottom line is that Mir still looked bad. He didn't have the same drive he had when he fought against his last few opponents, and if in the future he fights as cautiously as he did against Cro Cop, he may never get another crack at the title.