Frank Mir's arrival onto the UFC stage in 2001 was full of promise and hope.
At the time, the UFC heavyweight division was flooded with big bodies who threw heavy lumber, yet lacked a ground game to balance out the demands of being a mixed martial artist.
Mir exploited these weaknesses with his brilliant jiu-jitsu game. Submitting four of his first seven opponents, including a timeless highlight reel snapping of Tim Sylvia's forearm from an arm bar submission in 2004 to win the UFC heavyweight championship, Mir's future was at its brightest.
In a fleeting moment, however, the one-time king of the UFC heavyweight division was removed from his regal status by a motorcycle accident in 2004.
Severely damaging ligaments in his knee and breaking his femur, Mir was stripped of his title and forced to climb back up the UFC heavyweight division ladder to once again compete for a championship.
The road back from his injury has been challenging for the one-time heavyweight champion.
Plagued with questionable losses, experts have doubted Mir's focus and determination to once again sit atop the heavyweight throne.
Conversely, Mir has pulled off stunning upsets, including a submission victory over Brock Lesnar and a knockout win over the iron-jawed Brazilian, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
With a 5-3 record over his past eight matchups, experts once again are questioning as to whether the unfocused Frank Mir will enter the Octagon this Saturday against Roy Nelson.
Roy "Big Country" Nelson is a paradigm within the Octagon.
With the physique of the "before" pictures for Jennie Craig, pundits wonder how a man whose mid-section is the size of a beach ball can have the skills needed too compete on the world's biggest MMA stage.
Physique aside, there is no doubt that Nelson is a dangerous fighter.
Possessing a tremendous cardiovascular conditioning reserve, excellent boxing skills and a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Nelson's skill-set is undeniable.
The Season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter winner has fought well within the famed UFC Octagon.
With a UFC record of 2-1, Nelson has knocked out both Brendan Schaub and Stefan Struve.
His only loss within the UFC has been to Junior dos Santos. Nelson is the only heavyweight fighter to survive the heavy hands and lethal punching power of JDS, taking the Brazilian star the distance in a unanimous decision defeat.
Both Mir and Nelson possess excellent ground games and the boxing talent to earn a victory by knockout.
As the better athletic fighter, Frank Mir will need to couple his athleticism with his resurrected stand-up abilities to damage Roy Nelson on their feet.
Landing heavy punches to Nelson may not knock out "Big Country;" however, softening up his opponent with solid strikes will open up the opportunity for Mir to take this fight to the ground and utilize his advantage in the jiu-jitsu department to lock up a submission victory.
Simple game plan, I know. However, one variable does exist. And that questionable component is Frank Mir's mindset coming into this fight.
If Mir is focused and has performed the necessary training to earn a victory, he should resemble the fighter who once dominated during his early years within the UFC.
However, if Mir is off track in his preparation and that weakness follows him into the Octagon this Saturday, Roy Nelson's hand will be raised in victory and "Big Country" will climb one step closer to earning a title shot.
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