Brock Lesnar shocked the world last night at UFC 91 when he defeated Randy Couture via TKO in the second round to win the UFC Heavyweight Title. But how long Lesnar holds onto the belt will be determined in some way by what happens on Dec. 27 at the same venue—the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas—at UFC 92.
In one of the more loaded cards in UFC history—also including Forrest Griffin defending the UFC Light Heavyweight Title against Rashad Evans, and the latest installment of the Quinton "Rampage" Jackson/Wanderlei Silva series—Frank Mir will take on Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for the UFC Interim Heavyweight Title, which is in existence as a result of Couture's year long absence from the UFC.
The reason this is important is because the winner of that fight will face Lesnar early in 2009 to unify the belts. And if I'm Brock Lesnar, I hope that Frank Mir wins.
In Lesnar's debut at UFC 81, he had Frank Mir beat, and were it not for an illegal strike to the back of Mir's head, Lesnar would have won the fight. Instead, Lesnar hesitated, and Mir submitted him shortly afterwards.
Since then, you can clearly tell that Lesnar has learned from that fight, as he smothered Heath Herring at UFC 87, and then of course knocked out Randy Couture last night. So Lesnar knows how to beat Frank Mir, and should Mir defeat Big Nog in December, Lesnar should be confident going into the rematch.
Should Big Nog win, however, this presents Lesnar with a different challenge. Minotauro is 34-4-1-1 in his MMA career, and his four losses were all to established names—Dan Henderson, Fedor Emelianenko (twice), and Josh Barnett, whom Nogueira immediately defeated two months later.
19 of Big Nog's 31 wins have come via submission, so Lesnar should know to be very careful, and make sure he's not on his back. He would have to research Nogueira like crazy to fully understand what he's getting into, and unlike Couture, who came into last night's fight after a year away, Big Nog would be fighting fit and would know how to put guys like Lesnar away.
Sure, luck plays into MMA quite a lot—many are debating the "what ifs" of the Couture/Lesnar fight—and Lesnar could well catch Big Nog with the KO punch like he did with Couture.
But, in my opinion, Lesnar would rather see Mir win the big fight at UFC 92, as Mir represents familiarity and a chance for revenge. Minotauro, however, would represent the biggest challenge to Lesnar's short MMA career, and I'm not at all convinced that Lesnar would be ready for him.
But then again, who really thought that Lesnar would be ready for Couture?