Frank Mir thinks the fight between Brock Lesnar and Mark Hunt at UFC 200 will be determined in the first few exchanges. If Lesnar gets Hunt down, it could go the WWE star's way. If he can't, well, that favors Hunt.
If he had to make a pick right now, though, Mir would take Hunt, he said on his Phone Booth Fighting podcast this week. The former UFC heavyweight champion has been in the Octagon with both men, including Lesnar twice. He thinks the "Super Samoan" will take out "The Beast" on July 9 in Las Vegas.
"He doesn't like to be hit," Mir said of Lesnar. "Not that anybody likes to be hit, but Brock for whatever reason has shown much more of a dramatic response to the negativity of those shots. To the point where he's not asleep, it isn't like he got knocked out, he's not getting dropped, but he just turns his face away from adversity. That's a bad thing when fighting Mark Hunt, who again I think is one of the hardest punchers in the division."
That said, Mir understands that if anyone can take Hunt down and keep him there for a while, it is Lesnar, a former NCAA Division I wrestling national champion.
"If he is able to take Hunt down and control him, Hunt has been known to get tired on the ground and get fatigued," Mir said. ... "It really comes down to who is able to get their game plan."
Lesnar's comeback is extremely notable for Mir, who would have been a logical opponent for his fellow former champ. Mir beat Lesnar in Lesnar's UFC debut in 2008 via submission. Lesnar avenged that loss by TKO at UFC 100 in 2009. Mir, though, is currently serving a USADA suspension that could last up to two years for testing positive for steroid metabolites. He called not being able to take on Lesnar in his comeback fight a "missed opportunity."
Mir said he is pretty certain that Lesnar would have accepted a third fight with him given their longtime rivalry.
"I think that's he's a competitive guy," Mir said. "If he's going to step in the Octagon, he's gonna want to get paid as much as he can for that appearance. I mean, he's closing in on 40. So why not a fight with me? A fight with me is going to be a much bigger payday, the two of us together is going to make much more of an impact than him versus anybody else. The storyline just isn't going to be the same. The interest is not gonna be the same."
Mir, 37, thinks a rematch with Lesnar, 38, would still be relevant even after his suspension is up. Lesnar retired from the UFC in 2011 after a loss to Alistair Overeem and multiple bouts with diverticulitis.
"I think even two years from now when I come out of the suspension, a fight with Lesnar is still -- if he still wants to come back again -- is still a huge fight," Mir said. "It's massive because of what he brings to the table, what I bring to the table and the history we have together."
So, Lesnar vs. Mir 3 is still a possibility down the road, even fans won't get it next month at UFC 200. Mir said he believes the short-notice nature of the bout is disadvantageous for Hunt, because Lesnar has already been training for his return. He's been talking to the UFC for months. But, at the end of the day, Mir is still leaning toward the New Zealand native in the fight.
"I'm betting on Mark," Mir said. "He's been in there more consistently the last couple of years against really game opponents. I think that once their strengths match up against each other, it's a hard takedown. You've never really seen anybody come through and just blast Mark onto his butt in the first minute or two of a match."