Saturday, July 11, 2009 | midnight
- Complete UFC 100 coverage
- Brock Lesnar: Can anyone beat this man?
- St. Pierre dominant despite injury
- UFC co-owner addresses fans at Expo
- Love story leads to UFC
- Lesnar wins, puts on WWE-style show afterward
- Win or lose — Mir a class act
- 702.tv: All-In: UFC 100
- Punchy Points: Key aspects about UFC 100
- Interactive Timeline: UFC Countdown: 1 to 100
Forget about title shots, UFC championships and bragging rights.
According to Frank Mir, Brock Lesnar is just lucky that his leg is still in one piece after their first meeting.
"It's your responsibility to protect yourself," said Mir, the most dangerous heavyweight submission specialist in UFC history. "If I have your arm and you don't tap, then you've decided that I need to go a little farther and I'll break it. But if you tap, then I'll hold it. I'm not going to go any farther and I've trained my mind to do that.
"In the first fight I had his leg, I felt the tap, there was no need to blow his knee out. But then I remember thinking, 'I'm not feeling the usual bump where, okay, it's over.' Then I start thinking, 'Maybe he's not tapping, maybe he's hitting me.'"
That notion was probably the same one running through referee Steve Mazzagatti's head that night, as he hesitated to end the fight despite what, in hindsight, were obvious tapouts from Lesnar.
Luckily, Mazzagatti did come through in stopping the fight before Mir destroyed Lesnar's right knee.
Although the trash talking of the past week would suggest that Mir would have no problem ripping the leg off this time and throwing it to the crowd as a souvenir, don't make the mistake that either heavyweight is taking the other lightly.
Rematches will always be highly anticipated, but rarely does a first fight leave so many questions that need answering in the second meeting.
By now, everyone has an opinion on if Mazzagatti was right in deducting a point from Lesnar for blows to the back of Mir's head which stood the fight up. Lesnar believes that the decision was a mistake on Mazzagatti's part and cost him the fight.
Of course, Mir disagrees.
"We talked backstage. Steve said, "Don't hit back in the head." That was our warning," Mir said. "I can concede deducting a point, that could take the wind out of your sails. But as far as getting the fight back on the feet and him winning, no he wasn't. He hit me with the right hand, dropped me, had better position and still couldn't finish me.
"So I don't believe you there Brock."
Another controversy is whether it was inexperience that cost Lesnar and whether he has evolved as a mixed martial artist.
Although Lesnar says he hasn't been interested in the idea of watching video or studying previous champions to learn techniques, he does say that he's a much more versatile, smarter fighter than he was at UFC 81.
"I think it's just a matter of being more patient and evolving as a fighter," Lesnar said. "I've worked a lot more on the evolution of becoming a fighter. There's a lot of responsibility in being a champion. I definitely needed to elevate my game - stand up and jiu-jitsu. It's been a year-and-a-half and I think I've evolved.
"They kind of came out and threw me to the lions but that's how I wanted it."
The anticipation for the truth of what that first fight meant and what will be revealed this time in the Octagon is part of what has made the countdown to UFC 100 so electric.
Saturday night, we'll all have our answers.
Even if Lesnar has evolved a lot over his three-fight UFC career, there is no secret to his style. Lesnar is going to be the bully. He's going to use his size and strength to try to wear Mir down and rough him up.
It's not a bad thing that Lesnar's style is obvious. In fact, according to Mir's own trainer Ken Hahn, it was to Lesnar's advantage that he was a little rough around the edges and unfinished in the first fight. While it's important for Lesnar to not put himself into a bad situation again, trying to keep up with Mir technique-wise would be a bad idea.
"I think you'll just see a guy that's patient," Lesnar said. "It only takes one punch and we'll find the right time to issue that."
Mir is coming into this fight 10 pounds lighter than he did in the first meeting. He saw what using a combination of terrific stamina and superior technique did for him in his TKO win over Nogueira.
What everyone saw in the first fight is that Mir is a good matchup against Lesnar because he can take a punch and knows how to defend himself on the ground. According to Mir, the motorcycle accident that nearly ended his career was actually what has given him the strength to get through those difficult situations.
"In the gym all the time, I start off in a bad position and if I get out of it I get to go right back in it," Mir said. "I was blessed in that I didn't set my training that way, but getting hit by a car and having to come back with one leg not quite the same, life itself kind of put me in the right situation."
Last Time Out:
Lesnar: TKO win over Randy Couture at UFC 91 on Nov. 18, 2008.
Mir: TKO win over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 92 on Dec. 27, 2008.
The Lines: Lesnar -210 Mir +170
Lesnar: On breaking down a door in his gym after watching the first fight during an interview: "I'm a sore loser. I don't like to lose. To watch it over and over again was frustrating, I wanted the interview to be done and I exited the building. It was in the way and I was going through."
Mir: On trash talking with Brock Lesnar: "Any gorilla can pound someone's face in, it doesn't take skill. Hell if my wife grabbed a baseball bat she could beat me down. Physical violence is not that impressive. But tactics, mind games, screwing with people - I love that."
Brett Okamoto can be reached at [email protected].