says the decline in Mirko Cro Cop
's standing is not due to fading skills, but the improvement in his competition.
"I don't know if he's ever really lost his step. I just think the fighters now in the UFC are just a little bit more aggressive than the fighters in PRIDE," Mir told Ariel Helwani on Monday's installment of The MMA Hour
. "Studying game on him, I noticed that guys that back away from him and give him that respect, it seems like they get unleashed on a little harder than the guys that come forward."
Mir added that perhaps Cro Cop is still adjusting to fighting inside the cage after spending his entire career as a kickboxer and a MMA fighter inside a ring, primarily for K-1 and Pride.
Mir, who will meet the Croatian striker in the main event of UFC 119
on Sept. 25 in Indianapolis, was originally scheduled to face Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in a rematch until Nogueira pulled out due to a knee injury. Mir already holds a TKO victory over Nogueira at UFC 92 in December 2008, but wanted the opportunity to erase any doubt that he is the better fighter. It's been well publicized that Nogueira went into the UFC 92 fight recovering from a serious knee injury as well as a staph infection.
"[Nogueira] felt that the staph infection possibly would have drastically altered the outcome of that last fight and I don't feel [that way] and I don't agree with him," Mir said. "So the advantage of being a fighter is we can actually go ahead find out instead of just talking about it."
Mir will have to make adjustments with the opponent change. Nogueira is more of a boxer and brings with him a much stronger jiu-jitsu game than Cro Cop, while Cro Cop is best known for his kickboxing background and devastating head kick. Also, Nogueira fights in an orthodox stance while Cro Cop employs a southpaw stance.
Mir is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Shane Carwin in March for the UFC interim heavyweight belt. Cro Cop, who will be 36 by fight night, received a bit of a career resurrection in June with a submission victory over Pat Barry at UFC 115.
Mir, an accomplished jiu-jitsu artist, would be favored on the ground and said Monday the best way for him to tangle with Cro Cop on the ground would be to actually dabble with Cro Cop in the standup department.
"I think Cro Cop has a good sprawl, he has a good double underhooks," Mir said. "I think if I were to try to just drop and shoot on him, he would stop my shot. I think standing up with him is actually the route to go at first and then eventually when you work in the clinch, going to the ground is obviously a lot easier to do with him than Nogueira."Other Notes:
Mir says he can't pick the winner between Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez. "I really don't know," Mir said ... Mir says Fedor Emelianenko's loss did not lower his stock in Mir's book. Fedor is as dangerous and ever and "got caught" by Fabricio Werdum ... Mir says he was impressed with former nemesis Brock Lesnar's comeback victory over Carwin.