UFC 140 preview: Mir vs. Nogueira
Frank Mir (15-5) vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (33-6-1)
In a heavyweight special attraction, two former champions collide as Mir looks to prove that his scrutinized victory over Nogueira in December 2008 was hardly a fluke.
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The 32-year-old American southpaw, anchored at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, has competed under the UFC promotional banner for a full decade.
Among his accolades, Mir has submitted David "Tank" Abbott, Tim Sylvia, Cheick Kongo and Brock Lesnar. In his past two appearances, Mir knocked out the legendary Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic before dominating Roy Nelson in a one-sided decision win in May.
The Ricardo Pires Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt remains a legitimate heavyweight contender, though his losses to Shane Carwin and Lesnar in their rematch have sent him back to the drawing board.
After finishing Nogueira with strikes in the second round of their UFC 92 encounter, Mir came under heavy criticism because of Nogueira's nagging injuries and a well-documented staph infection in the days leading up to their bout.
Mir insists the outcome on Saturday night will be no different, but Nogueira, the former Pride king, has plans of his own.
The 35-year-old, battle-tested Brazilian is one of the most celebrated heavyweight competitors in mixed martial arts history. The former Pride heavyweight champion and Rings King of Kings tournament winner owns key wins over Mark Coleman, Bob Sapp, Dan Henderson, Filipovic, Fabricio Werdum, Josh Barnett, Heath Herring, Sylvia and Randy Couture.
The Brazilian most recently finished Brendan Schaub in their UFC 134 meeting in August. Most pundits already had written off Nogueira in advance of his bout with Schaub, but the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt silenced his critics with a brilliant first-round knockout.
The former Brazilian Top Team member has formed his own squad called Team Nogueira, home to some of the sport's elite competitors, including Junior dos Santos, Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida and Jose Aldo.
Prior to his initial setback against Mir, Nogueira never had been knocked out in his career, even in courageous efforts against then-unstoppable force Fedor Emelianenko under the Pride banner.
Nogueira is hell-bent on redemption as he looks to prove his critics wrong yet again and re-insert himself into the mix of top heavyweights.
Nogueira's submission skills are masterful, but his sharp boxing skills and ability to absorb blows are still his major weapons. If the Brazilian veteran can engage with Mir in close quarters, he should find success.
In typical Nogueira fashion, we can expect to see him eat some heavy leather in the early going before turning up the heat and unloading with a violent combination that will leave Mir seeing stars.
Verdict: Nogueira via KO, Round 2