Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011 | 1:30 a.m.
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TORONTO — If Frank Mir’s wife had the same reaction as the other 18,300 people at the Air Canada Centre Saturday after her husband won his fight, she’s going to be careful what she wishes for in the future.
Mir, a Las Vegas native, emerged victorious by submitting Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira with a kimura in the first round of their heavyweight rematch. Nogueira refused to tap out when Mir got a hold of his arm, which caused it to snap out of place and break as the crowd moaned in horror of the moment.
Mir explained afterward that his wife, Jennifer, was partially responsible for how the fight played out. She complained about the way his last two bouts turned into kickboxing matches and wanted him to return to his Brazilian jiu-jitsu roots.
Saturday night was their eight-year anniversary, so he had to listen.
“She’s all like, ‘Can’t you go back to the way the old way was,” Mir said. “I think that was pretty reminiscent of the old ways.”
In some respects, the performance was vintage Mir. The 32-year-old won the UFC heavyweight title 7 1/2 years ago when he dislocated Tim Sylvia’s arm with a similar submission.
In other ways, the UFC 140 co-main event was unlike anything ever seen before in the octagon. The 35-year-old Nogueira is one of the world’s best jiu-jitsu instructors. In 41 career fights, Nogueira had 20 victories by submission. No opponent had ever submitted him.
“He’s probably the best submission heavyweight of all time,” UFC President Dana White said of Nogueira. “But you know when you get caught in that thing, you tap. You know to tap out to that. That’s what happens if you don’t.”
A medical team worked for five minutes after the fight to get Nogueira’s arm stabilized in some sort of temporary cast. He went straight to the hospital.
White had no further details on the injury after the bout, but Nogueira could have dislocated both his elbow and shoulder. Mir wished it hadn’t ended so gruesomely, but didn’t see any way around the finish.
“I had a strong inclination that he was not going to tap,” Mir said, “so I took a deep breath and you guys saw what happened.”
Nogueira has only lost by stoppage three times in his 11-year career. Mir has accounted for two of them, as he knocked Nogueira out at UFC 92 three years ago.
Reporters questioned Mir’s motivation for UFC 140 because it would be nearly impossible to top the first Nogueira victory, which was a massive upset at the time. But Mir managed to do it.
“As far as how it feels, I don’t know,” Mir said. “I’d probably get in trouble if I described it in too much detail. You’d think I’m disturbed.”
Nogueira, who was a 2-to-1 underdog with the roles reversed in the Mir rematch, got off to a perfect start. He out-boxed Mir and sent him to the ground with a right hook along the cage.
“I was being a little too reactionary,” Mir said. “When he caught me with the right hand, at that point, it turned into a war. I started to move around and he wanted to play jiu-jitsu with me. I’m pretty good on the ground.”
Nogueira dove in after Mir and looked for a guillotine choke to finish things off. But Mir, who is also a jiu-jitsu black belt, transitioned out of it and got into top position.
After the two worked for positions and submissions at a rapid pace over a few seconds, Mir got a hold of Nogueira’s arm.
“Nine out of 10 times, he probably chokes a guy out in that position,” Mir said. “Just not me.”