Frank Mir: Conor McGregor not quite at Brock Lesnar’s star status yet
Over this past weekend at UFC 189, Conor McGregor transitioned from being one of the most talked-about fighters in the history of mixed martial arts to also becoming one of the most profitable.
A $7.2 million gate and huge pay-per-view numbers are expected for McGregor’s battle with Chad Mendes and there’s little doubt that the outspoken Irishman has quickly rocketed to the top of the list when it comes to UFC superstars.
But one fighter from the annals of history who might still have McGregor trumped is former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.
During his run in the UFC, Lesnar racked up some of gaudiest numbers the promotion has ever seen in regards to attendance and pay-per-view buys. His fight against Frank Mir at UFC 100 still marks the biggest show the UFC has ever done.
Mir actually wanted to fight Lesnar for a third time, with a chance to duplicate those monstrous numbers, but the former NCAA wrestling champion decided to forgo any return to MMA and instead finish his athletic career as part of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
"I was very disappointed in it because everybody talks right now about Conor McGregor, how big Conor McGregor is — I don’t think any of Conor McGregor’s pay-per-views have outsold what Brock Lesnar’s pay-per-views were up to this point. This past weekend might do so, but as of now every time Brock stepped into the arena, he’s a fan favorite. People just go nuts over the guy," Mir told FOX Sports on Monday about a potential third fight with the WWE superstar.
Everybody talks right now about Conor McGregor, how big Conor McGregor is — I don’t think any of Conor McGregor’s pay-per-views have out sold what Brock Lesnar’s pay-per-views were up to this point
— Frank Mir
"So knowing that I’d be able to fight him for a third time, I could catapult and feed off of that and bring a lot of attention. I know there was talk about Madison Square Garden was in the conversation so I knew a fight with Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir would be contingency to fight in that area. So all kind of opportunities would be opening up."
Mir, who fights this weekend against Todd Duffee on FOX Sports 1, defeated Lesnar in his UFC debut, submitting the future champion in the first round of their matchup before facing him again just over a year later with the results going in the other direction. Mir wanted to settle things once and for all, but Lesnar opted to remain in professional wrestling and with the contract he likely earned, not even his former rival could fault him for that.
"When I found out that he made the decision not to go the UFC route, I was disappointed. Especially with some of the things I was being told was that it was all but a signed deal. To find out I think he basically just positioned two companies against each other and got the best deal he could, which I can’t fault him for that. He’s a father, he has to make money," Mir said.
"Disappointed but I was able to let it go after a few days."
From now until the day he retires, Mir knows that his name will always be attached to Lesnar’s in some way and he’s completely OK with that. It marked two of the biggest moments in what will eventually be a Hall of Fame career despite Mir facing much tougher competition throughout his time with the UFC.
"I think Brock Lesnar, because who he is outside of the UFC and mixed martial arts, he has a bigger name than (Antonio Rodrigo) Nogueira does. Still to this day because of the notoriety from pro wrestling fan base, Brock has the most attention," Mir said.
"Is he the most dangerous guy I’ve had to face? No. In fact I don’t think he would have done very well in our third matchup, I think with the boxing that I have now. I think (Antonio) ‘Bigfoot’ Silva’s actually more a threat with his size and power and hands and he lasted two minutes."
The way history tells the story, Mir lost to Lesnar the last time they met but the Las Vegas-based fighter doesn’t hold any ill will towards his former rival. He actually applauds the South Dakota native on the kind of attention he garnered no matter what he was doing inside or outside MMA and says as high as McGregor is reaching these days, he still has a little ways to go before reaching Lesnar’s status.
"It’s always better to be remembered than forgotten and that just goes to show you the power that Brock Lesnar has," Mir said. "People still talk about UFC 100 to this day. That’s still the bar that everybody compares events to.
"Even this last weekend with Conor McGregor, who has a whole country behind him and I don’t think anybody’s had foreigners travel to a fight like he does, and still we compare it to UFC 100."
Frank Mir fights Saturday night at UFC Fight Night from San Diego live on FOX Sports 1 with the prelims starting at 8pm ET