Rumors swirling out of the UFC have hinted at a potential third and final match-up between former champions and bitter rivals Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir. The fight would settle the score after Mir subbed the very green Lesnar in his UFC debut back at UFC 81 and Lesnar's absolute destruction of Mir during the rematch at UFC 100. Dana White and company were sure that this fight would be an absolute blockbuster, selling an enormous amount of tickets and pay-per-views as fans eagerly awaited the grudge match between these two.
But a funny thing happened, fans protested vehemently against the proposed bout. They bombarded White's twitter account and mixed martial arts message boards detesting the idea of a third bout between the two. White smartly cooled at the idea of the planned fight and instead has decided to take a wait and see approach as to what happens with the UFC's cash cow Lesnar.
The fans and White made the right call. Lesnar and Mir should not be fighting each other right now for a multitude of different reasons. Check inside to see why Lesnar/Mir III should be held off until further notice.
And two of them are already against Frank Mir. A third bout would bring that total to three fights within eight bouts. We already know that Lesnar can beat Mir, he needs to face new guys. It does him no good to just repeatedly keep fighting Mir as he tries to continue to grow as a mixed martial artist. By constantly game-planning for Mir he doesn't change up his training and he doesn't need to focus on different aspects of the sport.
Don't get me wrong, rematches can be awesome. But when you fight the same guy three times in the span of three years it gets a bit old, especially considering all of the fresh blood available in the heavyweight division. Lesnar is already 33 years old and he has yet to face Antonio Nogueira, Roy Nelson, Junior Dos Santos, Cheick Kongo, or Ben Rothwell.
Fans want to see fights that are interesting. When we have already seen the same match-up twice, a third one just isn't that appealing. Maybe down the line. Maybe once they have taken on the rest of the heavyweight division. Maybe.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira has been on the shelf since a February loss to now champion Cain Velasquez. He had to pull out of his proposed bout with Mir at UFC 119 due to an injury and has been rehabbing since then. He doesn't have a fight scheduled. Neither does Lesnar. I'll let you guys figure where I'm going with this.
Nogueira provides world class submissions and jiu jitsu. He has made a career for himself out of pulling off submissions after getting dominated for the entire duration of fights. Nogueira is one of the few guys in the MMA world who can honestly never be counted out despite how bad it looks.
Never a world renowned striker, Nogueira can still hold his own standing as he dropped Randy Couture multiple times in their bout back at UFC 102. He doesn't have knock out power so he isn't a tremendous risk to Lesnar standing up but he certainly isn't some push over.
People have laminated the fact that Nogueira's chin is shot and he is long past his prime, but I disagree with that assessment. If getting knocked out by Velasquez and defeated by Mir while suffering from a staph infection is an indicator that a fighter is past his prime, I'm reluctant to find out who people believe isn't washed up.
Nogueira would provide a tremendous opponent for Lesnar, someone who he could test out his striking against while also giving fans some intense moments while grappling.
Frank Mir has always been used as a barometer for fighters looking to catapult themselves into title contention within the UFC's heavyweight division. Lesnar, Brandon Vera, and Shane Carwin were able to launch themselves into the higher ranks after beating the always tough Mir while guys like Cheick Kongo, Antoni Hardonk, and Mirko Filipovic were knocked back down to their proper pedestals.
Enter Brendan Schaub. The Ultimate Fighter season ten runner-up has been on a tear after he got knocked out by Roy Nelson at the season finale. He scorched Chase Gormley and Chris Tuchscherer in a combined 2 minutes and 54 seconds, knocking out both of them with brutal stand-up. He then thoroughly dominated heavyweight mainstay Gabriel Gonzaga en route to a clear unanimous decision victory at UFC 121.
Mir would provide Schaub with the perfect step-up in competition. Schaub beat wrestlers in Gormley and Tuchscherer. He defeated Gonzaga, who fancies himself a striker ever since his devastating knockout of Filipovic. Schaub has yet to be tested once the fight hits the mat. Training out of Greg Jackson's gym, it's very plausible that his jiu jitsu is top notch and he possesses good enough submission defense, but until he fights someone who is actively trying to submit him we may never know.
Mir has a history of jiu jitsu dominance. When he locks in a submission, he really locks it in. Most fighters will gradually apply pressure, slowly hoping that their opponents go for the rap. Mir cranks the submission 110% from the onset. If he snaps a bone, oh well, he wants to win. Seeing how Schaub would react to that would go a long way in determining where he stands in the heavyweight division.
To say that both Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir were disappointing in their previous fights would be a severe understatement. Both of them entered the Octagon to huge expectations and both failed to deliver in the slightest.
Lesnar took on Cain Velasquez at UFC 121, where he put his heavyweight belt on the line. After bull-rushing the Mexican contender Lesnar quickly faded. He was unable to hold down Velasquez despite a tremendous size advantage. He looked awkward and scared during stand-up exchanges. The fight was an absolute domination by Velasquez until it was mercifully stopped at 4:12 in the first round.
Meanwhile Frank Mir was pegged with headlining a lackluster UFC 119 card against former superstar Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic. The three round bout was woefully boring, producing more yawns and boos than oohs and cheers. Mir's dreadful wrestling left him unable to take the fight to the ground while he remained hesitant of the Croatian's power. What was left was a staring contest for three rounds until Mir finally connected with a knee that knocked out the Pride superstar. Dana White was so disgusted that he refused to give Mir the obligatory Knockout of the Night bonus despite it being the only knockout on the entire card.
So when you ask a casual fan about either Lesnar or Mir the first thing that is going to pop into their heads is their latest bouts, the embarrassing loss and the pitiful victory. Why would fans want to watch them fight again?
It wasn't that long ago that Brock Lesnar was being pronounced as the "Baddest Man on the Planet." After the barrage he survived in round one against Shane Carwin and the loss to Velasquez I doubt anyone will be calling him that again for quite some time. Gone are the days when fans viewed Lesnar as this long lost link to the barbaric vikings of yesteryear. Lesnar has looked downright human in his two most recent fights.
Lesnar needs a tune-up fight. He needs to face an opponent he has a chance to totally obliterate. People need to stand up and cheer "Now THAT'S the Lesnar I remember!" Until he gets that chance fans will just view him as a wrestler who is scared to get hit, someone who may not be the baddest man in his own gym (see Madsen, Jon), let alone the entire planet. Lesnar needs a chance to right the ship, or the knarr if you will.
Surprisingly Frank Mir is in a very similar predicament. Following his destruction at the hands of Carwin and the lackluster Cro Cop bout the bandwagon for the former champion has screeched to a slow crawl. You will be hard pressed to hear anyone praising the improved stand-up of Mir, a common theme after he dropped renowned kickboxer Cheick Kongo with a punch in their bout at UFC 107. The causal fans seem to forget that this was the man that snapped Tim Sylvia's arm in half with one of his devastating submissions.
What happened to those fighters? The Lesnar that demoralized Randy Couture? The Lesnar who pointed and laughed after running a hole through Heath Herring for three rounds? Where did the cocky and confident Mir go? The Mir who was happy to take home a limb with him if it meant getting the nod at the end of the fight? Bring those guys back. That's who I want to see fight.
When they first fought in 2008 it was Lesnar's debut into the UFC. The hulking wrestler was taking his ripped physique and country strength into the deep end of the heavyweight division. Media members were mesmerized. Could a former fake wrestler make it in the biggest mixed martial arts promotion? What would happen? The industry was buzzing.
Fast forward a year to 2009. Lesnar is finally getting his rematch with Mir, but this time the heavyweight title is on the line. Lesnar was the true champion while Mir had captured the interim heavyweight strap after dismantling Antonio Nogueira at UFC 92. The two of them came into the fight looking more dominant than ever. The trash talk leading up to the bout was downright personal. These two literally hated each other. It wasn't one of those fights where the participants were just hyping the tension, this was real.
Enter 2010. Lesnar just lost to Velasquez after pulling out a come from behind victory out of no where against Shane Carwin. Mir just produced one of the most boring main event fights ever following his knockout loss to Carwin. What sells this fight? There is no heavyweight title on the line. There is no intrigue as to just how good Lesnar can be. Two free falling heavyweights attempt to settle their score? No thanks, I'll pass on this one.
Usually in three fight series the title of best fighter remains murky after the first two bouts. That's not the case here. It's clear that Lesnar is a step above Mir.
Did Mir catch Lesnar in a submission in their first bout? Yes absolutely, and my hats off to him. He capitalized on a mistake that the inexperienced Lesnar made and won the fight. That was after Lesnar was putting a grade-A beating on the former champ. The former WWE star was looking to make a point that he could survive in the UFC. He wanted to silence every doubter out there, by putting a hole in Frank Mir's head.
In the rematch Lesnar dominated Mir even more thoroughly. He got Mir to the ground, controlled his hips and pounded away until the referee was forced to halt the bout. Watching Mir's father plead with the ref to stop the fight as Lesnar pinned Mir up against the fence and unleashed downright terrifying blows, is not something I plan to forget. The look on Mir's face as Lesnar pointed menacingly at him told the entire story. Mir had no business being in the cage with Lesnar.
Picture this: Lesnar controls Nogueira and pounds him out for a TKO stoppage while Mir submits Schaub in a devastating display of jiu jitsu technique and power. Cain Velasquez blows the doors off of challenger Junior Dos Santos and neither Roy Nelson or Shane Carwin have returned from their absences yet. Assuming the UFC can't wrangle Alistair Overeem or Fedor Emelianenko from Strikeforce, who does Velasquez defend his title against?
Enter Lesnar/Mir III. Maybe fans still look down upon Lesnar's fight with Velasquez as an embarrassment and they see Mir's loss to Carwin and fight against Cro Cop as making him unworthy of a title shot. However if one of them were to be beat the other, that changes things. Suddenly Lesnar is one a two fight win streak, an impressive one at that, with wins over Big Nog and Mir. Could you see Dana White promoting a new and improved Lesnar? Someone who was so pissed at his loss to Velasquez that he trapped himself in his Minnesota gym and just trained all winter? Because I sure as hell could.
On the flip side, if Mir wins suddenly he is on a three fight win streak after beating Cro Cop, Schaub, and Lesnar. That's a pretty daunting list regardless of how old Cro Cop may be. Once again Uncle Dana swoops in and promotes the hell out of Mir. A guy who will push Velasquez's jiu jitsu to the limits. Someone who is never out of a fight due to his ability to snap a limb out of no where.
I have already made it pretty clear that I believe Lesnar handles Mir with ease if they fight again. But maybe Mir was just too focused on size in their second bout and neglected his true strengths. It is the fight business, anything can happen. But if Dana White wants to put on a planned third bout between the two, at least make it worth while. Make it for a title shot. Make it mean something, not just two middling heavyweights looking to settle a score.