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Frank Mir Calls Fedor Emelianenko Fights 'More of a Carnival'

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Yesterday I wrote about the possibility of Randy Couture fighting Fedor Emelianenko and asked whether mixed martial arts is actually popular in America, or just UFC. Another way of asking that would be: Do people perceive mixed martial arts fights that aren't under the UFC umbrella as legitimate?

One person who doesn't is Frank Mir, who said in an interview with Gary Herman of CBS Sports that he views the MMA fights outside UFC as lacking in quality competition. Specifically, Emelianenko's last fight, against the 7-foot-2 Korean fighter Hong-Man Choi, earned Mir's derision:

Q: Now there are a lot of top heavyweights not in the UFC -- like Couture, Fedor Emelianenko, and Josh Barnett. Can they be mentioned as the top fighters in the world if they are not in the UFC?

Mir: I don't think that is a possibility anymore. You're only as good as your competition. Before, with Pride being separate from the UFC, you had tough competition there and tough competition here. But now, we have the strongest competition. Fedor's last opponent was not a ranked guy. If that is the trend now -- to fight unranked guys -- it will be very hard to sway the rankings. Fighting 7-5 guys is more of a carnival. Not that you're not a great fighter, but you need to fight top guys. Nogueira is the top fighter in the top organization in the world. It would be very hard not to give him the top spot right now.

I enjoyed the Emelianenko-Choi fight, but while Mir overstated Choi's height by three inches, he makes a valid point: People watched that fight because they thought it was cool to see the best heavyweight fight the biggest, not because they actually thought it was a great match-up. And as long as UFC creates all the great match-ups, UFC will dominate American MMA.

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