I think that the only advantage of the heavyweight division is it’s not that deep of a pool. That’s just the nature of the business. If I’m victorious next weekend, that’s three wins in a row. I think I’ll stick my head up there again.
After vacating the UFC heavyweight title in 2004 as a result of the horrible motorcycle accident he was involved in, Frank Mir’s prospects as a relevant contender seemed to fade drastically. He returned from a two-year layoff only to be beaten badly by Marcio Cruz and Brandon Vera, picking up an uninspired decision over Dan Christison along the way. Things started to look up for Mir when he scored two quick submissions over Antoni Hardonk and Brock Lesnar, followed by an emphatic knockout over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. The win over Big Nog earned Mir the UFC interim heavyweight title and a shot at then-champ and rival Brock Lesnar.
Lesnar wouldn’t be denied in the rematch, repelling Mir’s attempt to capture the title via second-round TKO. Mir looked better than ever on his return, planting Cheick Kongo on the mat with a hard punch before promptly submitting him. Shane Carwin would knock Mir out in a subsequent battle for the UFC interim title, but Mir has gotten back on track by defeating Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and Roy Nelson, consecutively. This Saturday night, Mir will rematch Big Nog in a bout that, as Mir points out, could very well position him near a title shot depending on the outcome and considering the relative lack of depth in the UFC’s heavyweight division.
Should Mir blow past Big Nog again – and that’s certainly not guaranteed – he will cause himself to stand out in a division lacking top contenders. Former champions Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem will do battle on December 30 for a shot at newly-crowned champ Junior dos Santos, but beyond that there are no clear front runners for a title shot. The division essentially features a cast of promising up-and-comers who still need some seasoning, gatekeepers destined to hover in the middle of the division and cull the weaker of those up-and-comers and a handful of former champions looking to work their way back to the top.
An impressive victory over Big Nog doesn’t make for the strongest argument in favor of Mir getting a chance at the belt again, but it gives him a stronger case than pretty much anyone else in the division. To truly establish himself as the top contender, Mir would need to not only beat Big Nog emphatically, but likely win another contest afterward, possibly against the recently-dethroned Cain Velasquez. With Josh Barnett and Daniel Cormier still stuck in Strikeforce, an impressively victorious Frank Mir would emerge from this Saturday night as the heavyweight division’s most viable contender.