Ultimate Fighting Championship interim heavyweight champion Frank Mir and UFC heavyweight titleholder Brock Lesnar will rematch to unify the belts later this year. Mir recently spoke with MMAWeekly.com about the rematch, Lesnar's improvements and why he feels he'll be the undisputed, two-time heavyweight champion after what will be their second fight.
Mir defeated Lesnar in the former professional wrestler's UFC debut at UFC 81 on Feb. 2, 2008.
"There's a lot of hype behind Brock. I don't think that right now people have me as a clear-cut favorite in the fight as far as what I understand and what people are telling me. So, to be able to go out there and fight him for the title, and he was really the start of what kind of got me back into the limelight, that I think this helps finish it off," the Las Vegas resident said about fighting Lesnar for a second time. "I'm happy to go in and fight Brock and do it again."
Lesnar made his UFC debut in his second professional mixed martial arts bout and surprised a lot of people in his losing effort against the more experienced Mir. Looking ahead to the rematch, the 29-year-old heavyweight doesn't think it will be a walk in the park.
"I don't think it will be an easy fight by no means. I think he's going to learn his lessons from the first time. I just still think that I'm the better fighter. I've been doing it a lot longer. There's not that drastic of a size difference between the two of us," Mir told MMAWeekly.com. " I stay between 250 and 260. No matter what, he has to show up at 265 the night before. How much weight can he put on? Ten-fifteen pounds, tops – 280 when I weigh 260 – 20 pounds is not drastic. It's not going to be deathly. But I have years of experience on him that he doesn't have in the MMA world."
Mir acknowledged that Lesnar has improved since their first fight, but doesn't believe he's had the time to transform his abilities to the level of a world-class fighter.
"I think he's improved a little bit, but I still think it takes a long time. No one picks this up in four or five fights," said the UFC interim heavyweight titleholder. "What fighter have you seen yet that in four fights is unbelievably technical? We can go through any weight class you want.
"Lets look at Urijah Faber at his fourth or fifth fight. What was he compared to what he is now? If we go to Miguel Torres, if we go to St. Pierre, you can pick the best fighters in the world. How good are they on their fifth fight compared to how good they are now," asked Mir. "We're talking about world-class guys. We're talking BJ Penn's and stuff. Let's be realistic - Matt Hughes. Come on. If Brock Lesnar is able to be a world-class mixed martial artist on his fifth fight, that means he's the best mixed martial artist pound-for-pound that ever came into MMA. That's a pretty steep statement there. We're talking you're up there with Anderson Silva and St. Pierre and Miguel Torres. That's a pretty long, tall list to be on top of."
"If he does it, I'll be impressed out of my mind," he added.
Mir anticipates more striking in the rematch and Lesnar to come in with a different game plan than their first go around. "I think it's going to be a lot more striking, obviously, this time. I think honestly there's going to be a lot more striking, but Brock's never really been punched in a pro fight. I think he's going to try to stand up with me for a little while, and then when that doesn't go his way he's going to take me down and try to ground and pound me and hope he's a lot more strategic about avoiding submissions."
And Mir doesn't disagree with that strategy for Lesnar. In fact, he would employ the same tact if he were coaching Lesnar. "If I was coaching him, that's what I'd do, sort of push the pace. Even in the fight with Nogueira, it only went seven minutes. Who still knows whether I truly have a gas tank or not? Obviously you see that I do have stand up skills. You know what I can do on the ground, so why don't we just test the gas tank now? I'd say, 'Don't get hurt early on with a punch. Don't do something stupid and get caught in a submission. Take the fight the to the second or third round and see what Mir really can do.' Which is great for me if he could do that because then I can showcase more about what I can do. That's what the fight is about. I want to show more and more my depths in my ability. If he can make it further, it's a plus for me in my career."
Although he expects a different game plan out of Lesnar, Mir is interested what that game plan may be.
"My striking, now, is up to a level that I don't think his is at. My jiu-jistu's still at a level I don't think his is at. Obviously he can out wrestle me, but it's kind of like, okay, pick your poison," stated the former UFC heavyweight titleholder. "Do you want to stand with me? I can't take Brock down. If Brock wants to stand on our feet, it will be a stand-up war. Does he really want to stand up with me? Okay, Nogueira's a much better boxer than he is and we saw what happened there. At the same time, does he want to shoot and take me down? That might not be the best thing either. So, he's kind of really in a weird situation.
"I'm kind of curious what his plans will be, so I'm just preparing to go ahead and beat him at the stand-up and beat him on the ground. "