Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
Frank Mir knows a good opportunity when he sees one. So when Alistair Overeem failed his now-infamous drug test by a whopping 14:1 testosterone-to-epitestosterone clip, Mir was the first heavyweight to take the offensive, issuing a press release through his management just hours after the announcement, voicing his willingness to replace Overeem and fight UFC champ Junior dos Santos at UFC 146.
To say the time between then and now was a roller-coaster would be an understatement, but in the end Mir's strategy worked, as UFC President Dana White made the switch official late last week. For Mir, it was the undeniably sweet moment of vindication he had been waiting for.
"I just kind of did the math in my own mind," Mir explained on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "My team around me, we all pretty much felt that if dos Santos were to stay on the card, and Overeem was not able to challenge for the title, then I was the most logical person to step in. So as we were still training for Cain (Velasquez), there was that at the back of my mind, okay, be prepared for this to happen also."
While the switch to Mir wasn't exactly surprising, the timing of the news raised a few eyebrows. Overeem's saga with the Nevada State Athletic Commission dominated headlines throughout the past few weeks, and many fight fans, including Mir, believed the UFC was waiting for his hearing on Tuesday before making a move.
Of course, Mir isn't in charge, so he doesn't have a say in the matter. But he's still a fan of quality fights, and now that Overeem has revealed his defense, Mir isn't quite sure what the UFC should do with the Dutchman.
"I really don't know. I think it just has to be measured as a whole, and whether or he's good for the sport or not, and what he's able to bring to the table," Mir carefully mused. "He still has this large fanbase. I think all that has to be taken into consideration."
"I would have liked to see the fight too as a fan. I'd like to see Alistair and Junior fight, and it could still happen after this. ... But I'll step in and take advantage of the opportunity presented to me. I'm definitely not the reason why this fight isn't happening."
If anything, Mir's last sentiment is the most telling. It means he's heard the rather loud complaints from fans, many of whom have already panned the bout a month in advance.
But Mir's résumé speaks for itself, and the two-time champ firmly believes viewers will get their money's worth.
"I still pose a very large threat to dos Santos," Mir vowed.
"I still think it'll be an interesting cat-and-mouse game between me and Junior, because what I want to be able to impose on him, he's going to try to avoid, and vice versa."
A juicier subplot to the new championship tilt will come in the form of revenge. Mir is only man to both knock out and submit dos Santos' idol and mentor, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and the last time the two met, Nogueira left home with a nightmarish broken arm for his troubles.
Mir can't say for sure if retribution will play a factor in dos Santos' motivations, though he certainly seemed to welcome the idea.
"I'm sure he fights for his own reasons," Mir explained. "I mean, if he says that to sell pay-per-views, I'm sure it might be thrown out. But as far as deep down inside, when he's in the locker room getting ready to walk out to face me, when you're a fierce competitor like that, you don't really do it for outside sources.
"If you do it for any other reason other than what's inside you, the internal drive that you have to want to conquer this, it'll fall apart."
Ultimately, there's nothing wrong with pouring a little gasoline on the fire in the fight game, and no one knows that better than the former champ. So it was only natural for Mir to finish his thoughts by tossing a special caveat dos Santos' way.
"I do think it has to be a little nerve-racking that the guy you roll with as a coach got submitted by the guy you're about to face," Mir slyly chuckled. "That has to be a little bit in the back (of your mind.)"
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