Former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar might garner casual fan interest andboost gate receipts on cards where he participates as a competitor, but his list of detractors - particularly among the hardcore mixed martial arts (MMA) community - is as robust as ever. Strangely, though, one of those who is not a doubting Thomas (but no admirer) is rival and former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir.
MMA Nation Radio on 106.7 The Fan recently caught up with Mir to not only discuss his most recent submission win over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 140, but to look ahead to next week's UFC 141. In this interview, Mir backs Lesnar to defeat former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, discusses the physical tradeoffs he believes Overeem's made since moving to heavyweight and even weighs-in on who he believes will win the final of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.
Full transcription and audio below:
Luke Thomas: Alright, joining us right now on the McDonald's hot line, he recently had an incredible win at UFC 140, beating Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira by submission, a rather brutal one and he's here also to talk about UFC 141 which is December 30th, a Friday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas at 10 p.m., the inimitable Frank Mir. Frank, how are you, sir?
Frank Mir: Very good, thank you.
Luke Thomas: Frank, I have to ask you, among all-time victories, where do you rank UFC 140's victory over Nogueira?
Frank Mir: For me, personally, I think it's at the top of my list now. I think because of who Nogueira is and the way I got the victory. It also too, I find it more admirable to come from behind. I was in trouble there for a minute and I was able to come back and pull out a victory so to me, it's one of my happiest performances.
Luke Thomas: Were you surprised when you were rocked that he sat in for the guillotine? I mean, obviously he's a submission-inclined guy, but that really opened the window for your comeback. When you look back, have you watched the fight and if so, how do you view that tactical decision he made?
Frank Mir: I actually agreed with it. The reason he was able to latch the guillotine on was because I lifted my head up. I lifted my head off the mat because at that point I was looking to drive forward and I think he reacted more off of that to be honest with you because I had his leg and then when he started punching I put my head on the ground and obviously, because I was a little bit dazed, it took me a second to gather up and when I started to lurch forward, the minute I lifted up my head, he actually put me in a guillotine and to be honest with you, I was preferring the punches. I got really nervous real quick because Nogueira, a lot of times, when people are stuck in that position, that's the end of the fight. They're not gonna get out. He's very strong there.
Luke Thomas: Your submission, it was obviously a very devastating one, a beautiful one just the same. It was kinda funny though, initially he [Nogueira] went to a doctor and they said, "Well you won't need surgery ," and now he obviously needs surgery. The bone had substantial damage to it. This late in his career, obviously Nogueira, his constitution, he's not gonna want to tap but would you ever advise somebody in that predicament to not tap out of some sort of honor code or demonstration of durability? He doesn't have the luxury to sustain that kind of injury in my judgement. How do you view the decision he made to not tap?
Frank Mir: I think that I would have personally not done the same thing in his position. On the first roll, once my arm was that far back, that much, that deep into the round still and and not really seeing under a minute left, I probably would have sat there and submitted. The only time I can understand when a guy is really pushing off too much, say you're winning the round, winning the fight and you hear the clapper go, there's 10 seconds left, not that it's good to damage a limb, obviously you want to protect yourself because time out of the ring, out of the gym affects your career more than anything, but you know, I get it more at that point.
Luke Thomas: Alright, and lastly about the submission. What are differences between this one and the win over Lesnar and here's what I mean. Obviously they're both submissions and I don't mean it in that sort of simplistic way, but you were in different parts of your career. The win over Lesnar, it helped you rebound, in some ways, it certainly increased your fan appeal and your visibility. How would you rate the difference between the submission win over Lesnar and the submission win over Nogueira in terms of what it does for your career?
Frank Mir: Well, I think you kind of nailed it there in terms of notoriety amongst general fans are probably gonna see the Lesnar submission as more impressive because they're looking at Lesnar but I think the hardcore fans and myself know that the win over Nogueira is a more impressive win because of what he's able to do there, his knowledge of the game, it would have been the equivalent of if I had shot a double on Brock, picked him up and taken him down. I beat somebody at what they're best at.
Luke Thomas: Let's move to UFC 141, again it's gonna be at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on a Friday, December 30th, the day before New Year's Eve. It's kind of an interesting fight and people are trying to say this is a classic grappler versus striker and I suppose in some sense it is, but I want you to talk in your judgment about the ground game over Overeem and, more specifically, he's got a guillotine which in and of itself is a high percentage submission and he really kind of good with it. How do you evaluate the ground game of Alistair Overeem today?
Frank Mir: I think that Alistair obviously just uses his ground game to avoid taking punishment and that way, when he gets back up to his feet, he's very damaging. I think you're right, I think he does have an excellent guillotine but Lesnar doesn't really shoot with his head on the side and kind of wade right in like, Hrmm, I wonder if he's able to grab and pull it up. Another thing too, when Alistair's guillotine has been so dangerous has been at 205. I really haven't seen him and I could be wrong and people are more than welcome to correct me with how many wins he has as a heavyweight with a guillotine because I know, for me personally, the thicker your arm gets, when it comes to some chokes, like the palm from behind or the guillotine, we're using the forearm. Guys, like a Jon Jones-type, with a real long, thin forearm are way more menacing than a guy with like a Lesnar tike arm and I think that's kind of what Overeem's done to himself. He's gone from a Jon Jones-type forearm to a Lesnar so I wonder how that's affected his guillotine.
Luke Thomas: That's interesting, so in other words, you believe that the muscle-building, while it certainly has some advantages, obviously strength being one of them or perhaps some others, you believe that there's a trade-off there in terms of being an effective grappler.
Frank Mir: Well, I'm talking specifically just the chokes where you bring the forearm across. You don't really see guys with really big arms pulling off guillotines. Another way I try to explain it to people is the triangle. The guys with long, thin legs are way more menacing than a guy with thick legs and it seems like when they put the choke on, it's not really like bone digging into the side of the neck, it's softer, it's across the neck and my jaw line , it's more surface area.
Luke Thomas: So let's talk about Brock Lesnar. How do you evaluate him coming back, the second bout with diverticulitis, having an entire 12 inches, a foot removed from his colon. He seemed to look good at the initial press conference but as you mentioned a minute ago, the time away from the gym can be devastating. What sort of Brock Lesnar, if you had to bet how good you think he'll be on December 30th?
Frank Mir: Well if he steps in there and is healthy, I think the sky's the limit. I think he'll be very good. The one advantage Lesnar has, he can take time out of the gym maybe moreso than other guys because what he's good at, he's been doing since he was six years old as far as wrestling and takedowns and positioning on the ground. So if he's out of the gym, that just means for the fight we're not gonna build on your striking, build on your grappling, stick to what you're good at which I think is an advantage for him. I think that any time that he's in trouble, he kind of strays from the other aspects of MMA.
Luke Thomas: Alright real quickly, I know you originally favored Brock Lesnar in this match-up. Do you still favor him?
Frank Mir: I do and I only add to it because I wonder how distracted Overeem had to be during his camp. He had things to deal with commission-wise, flying here, flying there, that's a lot of traveling for a person who's training for a high level main event fight.
Luke Thomas: And I know lastly before we let you go Frank, really appreciate your time. I know you had expressed some excitement about some of the Strikeforce guys coming over so I'll ask you for one more prediction. Heavyweight Grand Prix, Daniel Cormier, who I'm really excited to see in the UFC, taking on Josh Barnett. Who do you like there and why?
Frank Mir: I think right now I still have to favor towards Josh Barnett because of his level of experience, his range and height. Obviously Daniel Cormier is an extraordinarily highly decorated wrestler but as far as submissions and striking and all the other aspects of the game, I think Barnett has the advantage.
Luke Thomas: Alright well Frank Mir, congratulations on your win at UFC 140 over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and of course, UFC 141 in your home town, Frank, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Las Vegas, Nevada, it'll be Friday December 30th at 10 p.m. on pay-per-view, go out and get it. Frank, thank you so much for your time and we look forward to seeing you in the Octagon again.
Frank Mir: Thank you so much.