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With Brock Lesnar off the table, Frank Mir gets Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

Mir decides to stay at heavyweight, will fight at UFC 119 in September


Steve Marcus

UFC heavyweight fighter and Las Vegas resident Frank Mir smiles during an open workout at his gym on March 12, 2010.

Updated Thursday, July 8, 2010 | 1:16 p.m.

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Brock Lesnar gets in Frank Mir's face after defeating Mir in their heavyweight title fight at UFC 100 at Mandalay Bay on July 11, 2009. Lesnar won with stoppage in the second round.

Update: UFC president Dana White confirmed Thursday that Frank Mir will take on Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the main event at UFC 119 Sept. 25 in Indianapolis.

Frank Mir celebrated this year's Fourth of July in his Las Vegas gym, breaking down film of Brock Lesnar's win over Shane Carwin at UFC 116 the night before.

He did so in good company.

Sitting alongside Mir on Sunday were head trainer Jimmy Gifford, UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and boxing trainer Freddie Roach, who works with current WBO champion Manny Pacquiao.

The consensus of all four guys after watching the fight: Mir can beat this guy.

"We believe Mir is going to be the guy to knock out Brock Lesnar," Gifford said. "Me, GSP, Freddie Roach — we all agreed Mir can do it. We see holes in his game we know we can expose."

Mir (13-5) hasn't fought since dropping a first-round TKO loss to Carwin at UFC 111 in March, mostly because he wanted to wait for the results of Saturday's heavyweight title fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

The fact that Lesnar (5-1) successfully defended his belt over Carwin places a potential third meeting with Mir much farther down the road than if he had lost. The two split the first two contests.

With Lesnar expected to face No. 1 contender Cain Velasquez next, Mir and his camp would be happy if the road back to Lesnar and the UFC heavyweight title starts with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

Mir became the first fighter to stop Nogueira, earning a TKO win in December 2008. Nogueira later said he had not been able to perform to his best because he was suffering from a staph infection.

According to Gifford, because a rubber match with Lesnar isn't on the table right now, an opportunity to prove Mir's win over Nogueira wasn't a fluke would be the next best thing.

"If you're asking me who would Frank Mir want to fight right now, it's Brock," said Gifford on Wednesday. "He'd love to fight him. Realistically, that's not going to happen so we want that Nog fight.

"Nog claims staph infection affected his chin in the last one. I don't know how that happens, but I think if Mir gets a chance at Nogueira again, he'll knock him out early and retire him."

Although it recently was reported that Mir was contemplating a move down to the 205-pound division after struggling with the size of both Lesnar and Carwin in previous fights, Gifford said, Mir has finalized his decision to remain a heavyweight.

He has, however, decided to drop the additional weight he added over the last year.

In his last two fights, Mir weighed in at 264.5 and 265 pounds. In his next fight, he'll return to his old weight of 245.

"Right now, he's at 252 and his best fighting weight is between 240 and 245 pounds," Gifford said. "He's not going to stay at 265 to fight Brock again.

"Mir learned a lot over the last couple of fights, and I think the easiest thing to learn is you're not going to move immovable objects. So we better find another way."

As far as motivation goes, it still appears that Lesnar is the main thought on Mir's mind.

With a year gone by since Lesnar infamously got Mir's face after beating him at UFC 100, however, Gifford says Mir's obsession has dissolved into more of a will to simply prove he's the best.

"I think he's cooled down a little bit," Gifford said. "It's personal to an extent, but it's more about business now. He wants to beat this guy.

"They don't stand for the same things, that's obvious, but I don't know if it's about good vs. evil. In Mir's mind, it's about martial arts vs. this big gorilla who really is just a big gorilla."

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].

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