Former UFC Heavyweight and Interim Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir finds himself at a career crossroads once again. Mir is on a two-fight win-streak with one stoppage, but that one stoppage came after three very tedious rounds of non-action against Mirko Filipovic. His recent three-round manhandling of Roy Nelson has also been subject to criticism. So, where does Frank Mir rank in the UFC’s increasingly-crowded upper-echelon? Here are five opponents that would really prove whether or not Mir will be fighting for a championship anytime soon.
5. Travis Browne
In terms of pure fight quality, Travis Browne outperformed Frank Mir at UFC 130. He was in an exciting fight that saw a completely unexpected, incredibly exciting finish. Browne is quickly rising up the Heavyweight ranks, and he remains officially unbeaten for his entire professional Mixed Martial Arts career. This fight doesn’t make as much sense as the others on this list, though, considering that Browne needs at least one more fight, preferably against a divisional gatekeeper, before earning a shot at a former champion. And that’s why he’s starting out this list.
4. Brendan Schaub
Schaub is right on the cusp of breaking out into a major Heavyweight star, and that’s why he outranks Browne. Schaub improves on a fight-by-fight basis, and has looked incredibly dominant in all of his UFC fights except for his UFC debut, where he was knocked out by Roy Nelson. Schaub will be getting his shot at entering the upper echelon when he faces Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira later this year, and if he wants to go from a “bottom of the top” situation to a full-fledged championship contender, he’ll need to face someone like Frank Mir.
3. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
But if Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira beats Brendan Schaub, a rematch with Frank Mir not only makes more sense, but it’s got a great story to go alongside it. Mir is the first person that ever stopped “Big Nog”, but fans of Nogueira love to point out that he was dealing with a staph infection at the time of their bout. Despite both men taking different paths in their careers since their bout, the question does remain: could a healthy “Big Nog” beat Frank Mir? If Nogueira does rebound from his recent losses with a big win over an up-and-comer like Schaub, that’s one question I’d love to see answered.
2. Brock Lesnar
There are two main reasons why former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar takes the #2 spot despite Mir and Lesnar having one of the biggest and highest-drawing rivalries in the sport. One is that Lesnar is on the sidelines recovering from major life-altering surgery and will be out until the start of 2012 at the very earliest. The second reason is that Mir was resoundingly brutalized in both bouts, he just took advantage of a controversial point deduction in their first fight. Nevertheless, only one other fight would do a better job of proving once and for all that Mir is ready for another shot at the gold.
And the number-one opponent for Frank Mir is…
One of the best ways to get on the shortlist of likely title contenders is to beat the man that just got done fighting in a fight where the winner does get the next shot at the title. Plus, both men would make very interesting opponents for Frank Mir. Could Mir take down Junior dos Santos, who has so far displayed a penchant for only going to the ground when he chooses? Could Frank Mir beat Shane Carwin, the man who brutally pummeled him in humiliating fashion? Mir would prove the most by beating either of these men, and that’s why both earn the top spot.