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Frank Mir: 'Brock Lesnar Will Never Beat Me' But No Such Guarantee for Nogueira or Fedor

Frank Mir will fight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for the UFC interim heavyweight title at the end of this month, and he expects that to be the toughest fight of his career.

"I'm watching all of Nogueira's old fights to get ready," Mir told me when we talked this week. "He's a great martial artist."

Mir said he's training as hard as he ever has for the Nogueira fight -- which will take place at UFC 92 on Dec. 27 in Las Vegas -- because he believes he needs to fight better than he ever has before. And he also said he thinks he's going to need to out-fight Nogueira for 25 minutes and convince the judges that he's won at least three out of five rounds, because Nogueira is simply too tough to be knocked out or submitted. All in all, Mir knows he has a very, very big challenge ahead of him.

But while Mir had nothing but praise for Nogueira, he has a different attitude toward the man he'll fight if he beats Nogueira, Brock Lesnar. Mir has already defeated Lesnar once, at UFC 81 in February, and he says he's certain that if they fight again, he'll win again.

"Brock Lesnar will never be able to beat me because he has no submission skills," Mir told me. "What's he going to do, knock me out? No one has never knocked me cold. What's he going to do, arm bar me? No way. He is powerful. He is big. But martial arts isn't filled with guys from the NFL. Lesnar had to grab the cage not to get taken down by Randy Couture, who's 220 pounds. Lesnar isn't the phenom that everyone makes him out to be. He started at 30. Have you ever seen a boxer start at 30 and become a world champion?"

I told Mir that most fans think he'd lose a rematch with Lesnar, based on the way Lesnar was pounding him early in their fight. Mir got a brief reprieve when the referee stood the fight up and warned Lesnar about hitting Mir in the back of the head, and shortly after that, Mir submitted Lesnar by catching him in a knee bar.

Mir said he understands why fans think that way, but that he believes he's so much more skilled than Lesnar that he'll be able to beat him even if Lesnar jumps on top of him and lands a series of punches.

"You see, he was completely kicking my ass," Mir said. "He was beating the s**t out of me. But I'm saying I'm going to figure out a way to win. Lesnar hit me so hard I was seeing flashes of light every time they landed. But at no point did quitting ever cross my mind."

Mir also said that, despite Lesnar's freakish athleticism, he thinks he'll have a significant conditioning advantage over the bigger man.

"The next time we fight, it's a five-round fight," Mir said. "Even if he beats the s**t out of me for the first two rounds, he won't last. He's so big, and the bigger you are, the harder it is on your heart. ... Brock can take me down. He's bigger, stronger and wrestled for 20 years. When he's fresh, if he wants to put me on my back, he'll put me on my back. But until then I'll be putting my shin upside his head, and when he does put me on my back, what's he going to do then?"

Looking back on his first fight with Lesnar, Mir said he thinks the UFC chose him to be Lesnar's first opponent in the Octagon because the UFC thought Lesnar would win. Mir said the UFC believed he would fight against Lesnar the same way he fought in 2006 in a loss to Marcio "Pe de Pano" Cruz, a fight that Mir described as "Frank Mir at his p***iest moment."

But Mir says he's advanced so far as a martial artist since then that he barely recognizes the version of himself who lost to Cruz.

"I watch that fight now and it completely haunts me," Mir said. "By training with Ken Hahn, who comes from that full-contact karate school where he's hitting me in the back of the head while I'm hitting the bag, I learned that pain is a temporary state."

Mir said it's that training that gives him a chance to beat Nogueira in two weeks, and that makes him certain he'll beat Lesnar if he gets the opportunity in 2009.

But there's one person Mir doesn't think he could beat: Fedor Emelianenko.

"Fedor's the best heavyweight in the world," Mir told me. "I hope one day I could fight him and do well, but right now he's better than I am. As a martial artist you have to be truthful about yourself so you can approach your training properly and get better. Fedor has great killer instinct, he's tough, he's strong. If I fought him I'd try to catch him in a submission, but I don't know if Fedor can be beaten. He's the best heavyweight."

However, in a sign of just how much respect Mir has for his next opponent, Mir said he believes that Nogueira could beat Fedor. Although Fedor twice beat Nogueira by unanimous decision, Mir says that if those two fought for long enough -- and without judges -- Nogueira would figure out a way to come out on top.

"If Nogueira and Fedor fought in a fight with no time limit, I would bet on Nogueira," Mir said.

Fortunately for Mir, there is a time limit when he fights Nogueira, and he thinks he can beat Nogueira in 25 minutes. And Lesnar in less than that.

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