At the upcoming UFC 111: St. Pierre vs. Hardy, Frank Mir will face Shane Carwin for the Interim Heavyweight Championship. The bout is expected to be extremely competitive with neither fighter considered a clear favorite.
Among the legion of MMA fans, supporters are divided as to whom they would like to see prevail as the victor in this bout. Mir is a personable fighter. He is known for his stellar Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, outspoken way with the media and improbable return to UFC prominence following a devastating motorcycle accident that left him questioning whether or not he would ever walk again, no less fight professionally. Carwin is a high character tough guy. Although he is relatively new to the scene, he has made quick work of almost everyone the organization has placed before him.
Notwithstanding the parity in support, one unlikely individual will be vehemently rooting for Mir to emerge triumphant in this bout. That man is none other than the present UFC Heavyweight Champion, Brock Lesnar.
The feud between Lesnar and Mir is the closest thing MMA has to a legitimate rivalry that requires no public relations embellishment or marketing spin. The two men just plainly hate each other. The saga between the pair dates back to February of 2008, when the men first battled in the cage at UFC 81: Breaking Point. Lesnar was making his promotional debut and Mir was determined not to be used by the former WWE Champion as merely a stepping-stone to MMA prominence. Lesnar started the bout strong and was quickly landing a barrage of strikes to a prone Mir. Then the referee stepped in and in what was later deemed to be a controversial act, broke up the action due to illegal strikes being administered by Lesnar to the back of Mir’s head. Mir, the cagey veteran, took advantage of the reprieve and soon after the action resumed managed to submit the wrestling giant with a knee bar.
The two met again in July of 2008 at UFC 100. This bout was preceded with a great deal of pre-fight banter as it become clear that tension between the men had grown to a personal level. Mir seemed thoroughly overpowered this time around and after a steady diet of hard fists to the face, the bout was ended due to a technical stoppage in the second round. To add insult to injury and in stark contrast to the unwritten code of honor that encompasses MMA, Lesnar verbally tormented the fallen Mir as he lay injured in the Octagon. Lesnar went on to share a few unsavory comments with UFC color commentator Joe Rogan and suffice it to say, a real MMA rivalry was born.
Since that bout, the two have made it apparent to anyone that would listen that they have great disdain for each other. Mir, went so far as to wish death upon his former opponent, stating during an interview on WXDX radio with Mark Madden, “I want to fight Brock Lesnar. I hate who he is as a person. I want to break his neck in the ring. I want him to be the first person that dies to Octagon-related injuries.”
Those comments did not go over well. Mir was immediately rebuked by UFC President Dana White and in an odd public relations move, Mir’s wife apologized on the fighter’s behalf. Lesnar shared his thoughts on the situation during an interview with KFAN 107 (courtesy of SportsRadioInterviews.com), “I don’t know what he’s doing. He’s still probably trying to pull his foot out of his mouth. When you say something like that and your wife has to go out and apologize for you, you know you’ve pissed somebody off.”
Lesnar understands the passion that comes with battle, but he remained surprised by Mir’s desire to see him die in the Octagon, “In this sport of fighting… we want to perceive ourselves as athletes and get the respect of the general public. It was out of line, but in a fighter’s mentality I don’t want to go into the Octagon and kill somebody but I do wanna do whatever I can to win. Maybe that’s what he was saying, I don’t know.”
Lesnar clearly seems to relish his feud with Mir, but he hopes his nemesis does not lose sight of the matter at hand. “The guy should focus on the task in front of him which is Shane Carwin because if Shane beats his ass he won’t be fighting me. Hopefully he gets past Shane so I can put another beat down on him. For a guy to take an ass whooping like the one I gave him, for him to get up and keep running his mouth, I just gotta laugh at it. I gotta go back to a quote that he said before my second fight. He said if Brock Lesnar beats me, he will be the best martial artist ever. I guess he’s eating his words and he doesn’t want to admit that I’m that much better than him. I am truly hoping that Frank wins this fight so it sets us up for July and maybe the next beat down will… shut him up.”
On March 27, 2010, Mir will meet Shane Carwin at UFC 111. Mir must not overlook the undefeated Carwin or he could fall victim to the same straight right hand Carwin used to floor elite heavyweight Gabriel Gonzaga within 69 seconds of their bout. To the victor goes the spoils, so one only hopes that the conflict that hangs over Mir and Lesnar like a toxic mushroom cloud doesn’t become an insurmountable distraction.