Tomorrow night’s UFC 164 will play host to a plethora of potentially awesome fights, including a Heavyweight stand off between Frank Mir and Josh Barnett. The long awaited match has been on the lips of most hardcore fans since Mir captured the UFC Heavyweight belt way back in 2004.
Mir won the championship by snapping Tim Sylvia’s arm at UFC 48, meanwhile Josh Barnett had been exiled by the organization for testing positive for centaur genomes steroids in the wake of his championship win against Randy Couture.
The Warmaster, or Babyfaced Assassin as he was known then, was stripped of the title and went mainly to overseas organizations to rack up a 32-6 overall tally.
Mir’s motorbike accident forced him to vacate the belt, and his return bout against Marcio Cruz was a disappointing TKO loss. Since then, Mir has fought four times for the title, winning only once for the interim belt. Mir claims to have evolved even further, in his interview with UFC.com, and is feeling good ahead of his 24th fight.
“I am a much more accomplished fighter now, especially with me out here at Jackson’s and with this conditioning. I think that will lead to a much more exciting fight,” he explained. “If we had fought in our early 20′s, I think it would have been about who could catch who first early on in the fight without knowing what the fight would materialize into. Now, I think I have the conditioning to go for a rough ride for all three rounds if I need to, and the fight can end at anytime with a submission.”
Mir’s cardio and conditioning have oft been a point of criticism, but he looked in good shape in his last bout against Daniel Cormier.
“And I’ve always wanted to test myself against Josh,” he continued. “He’s a great grappler, he’s a great MMA fighter. I think he’ll go down in the books as one of the better MMA fighters of all-time. I like having those type of guys on the list of guys I’ve faced. I actually called [the UFC] and asked for the fight. I wanted to make sure that there was no feeling out process for Josh.”
Frank Mir has never really been known for turning down fights, something that hasn’t worked out too good for him in the past. I don’t think it was a great choice on his part to face Junior Dos Santos, but his courage is surely commendable.
“I think we have similar styles. When people talk about submission fighting, our names get brought up in the same sentence all the time. I think it’s a great fight. I think if I stepped outside of myself, I think this is a fight that should be done.”
It will be a big test for Mir on Saturday night, one that might signal the end of a storied career in MMA. Currently on a two fight skid, Mir needs a win now more than he ever has.
I’m excited to see how this one goes down, and I’m a big Mir fan. Hopefully we get a great display of grappling on show and maybe Mir’s stand up could be the difference.