If the heavyweight fight between Frank Mir and Alistair Overeem is do-or-die, both men were granted a stay of execution this past week. On Thursday, the Nevada State Athletic Commission -- in conjunction with the UFC -- pushed the bout from the UFC 167 card in November to UFC 169 on Feb. 1, 2014, in New Jersey.
Though the reasoning wasn’t based on an actual medical recommendation, it was centered more on safety-first hunches that both men could use the extra time to train and, more importantly, recover after having taken punishment in their last bouts. Both Mir and Overeem lost spectacularly in their most recent bouts -- Mir to Josh Barnett at UFC 164 (TKO), and Overeem to Travis Browne on UFC Fight Night 26 in Boston (KO).
Mir, who was already well into his training camp for the UFC’s 20th Anniversary show upon hearing the news of the postponement, appeared on Monday’s edition of the MMA Hour to discuss it.
"It would have been nice to have another fight before Christmas, but it’s the way the fight game goes," he told host Ariel Helwani. "People pull out due to injuries, things get moved, shows. So I mean, it’s not something unaccustomed to after 12 years in the UFC."
Though Mir won’t be a part of the big anniversary show's festivities in hometown of Las Vegas, his new date will coincide with the UFC’s big Super Bowl show at the Prudential Center in Newark. The Super Bowl will be held on Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in nearby East Rutherford. With Mir riding a three-fight losing streak, and Overeem having dropped two in a row, Dana White has recently gone on record saying that this was "absolutely" a win or go home situation.
Mir doesn’t necessarily see things in those dire straits.
"As far as the UFC wanted to release us, I’ve heard the same thing that Dana [White] said absolutely, I find it hard to believe that they’re going to let Alistair to be picked up by another organization," he said. "I still think he could sell a ton of tickets. Myself? I keep my opinion to myself on me. I guess I would have to see what I’m selling afterwards."
Asked if he’d given any thought to retirement, the 34-year old Mir said no -- but at the same time, if the losses continue to surmount, and UFC cuts him, there’s a domino effect that could lead inevitably to that outcome.
"Obviously I have no real desire to fight for another organization, so if I were to be let go that would be a huge step in the form of retirement," he said.
As far as Mir is concerned, he doesn’t think he should necessarily be walking the do-or-die plank to begin with. In his last fight against Barnett, Mir ate a big knee that dropped him to the canvas along the cage, when the referee Rob Hinds came in and waved Barnett off. Mir was fuming in the post-fight press conference that Hinds had stopped the fight too early. Even though he was clearly losing the fight up until that point -- and some might say losing badly -- this sentiment was echoed on Twitter by many people who’d watched the fight.
Now six weeks removed, Mir still thinks that Hinds had no business intervening when he did. His preference would have been to let the sequence play out after he took that knee, until something more definitive happened.
"The ruling kind of goes [you stop the fight] if you can’t defend yourself intelligently -- I was never even given the opportunity to defend myself intelligently, because there was no follow-up strikes," he said. "Had [Barnett] been throwing even mild shots and teeing off on me, I think that the argument of, well, you know, you were protecting yourself -- you can’t even make an argument that I was able to defend myself intelligently because there was no attack. The referee never gave it enough time for Barnett to do the next maneuver. I think that in itself says it was stopped too soon."