When Frank Mir’s left hook connected flush with Todd Duffee’s jaw on Wednesday night, the future UFC Hall of Famer added yet another name to his already impressive career resume.
Mir has been fighting in the UFC since 2001 and he’s faced nothing less than a legendary list of athletes throughout his career.
Included among the fighters who Mir has beaten are some of the iconic names from PRIDE Fighting Championships, which was touted as the promotion with the best heavyweight division of all time during the early 2000s.
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Many of the fighters from PRIDE eventually made their way to the UFC and Mir has beaten several of them, including former champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira on two occasions and a knockout over Mirko Cro Cop.
With two knockout wins in a row in recent months, Mir could now have the possibility of adding the most iconic name from the PRIDE Fighting roster if recent reports are accurate.
Fedor Emelianenko — regarded by most as the greatest heavyweight MMA fighter of all time — has expressed an interest in returning to fighting after retiring a few years ago. During his day, Emelianenko was the most feared fighter in the sport with vicious punching power, world-class wrestling and a devastating ground game that may still be unmatched to this day.
So how interested would Mir be in facing Emelianenko if he signed with the UFC?
"Oh absolutely, I have a lot of respect for Fedor," Mir told FOX Sports when asked about facing the Russian legend. "I think he just had a couple of bad fights there because the guy had 30 fights where he just ran through everybody. I think maybe he questioned himself and had some doubt and kind of basically did what I did. He’s taking some time off and probably found himself.
I’ve faced a lot of the greats from over there in PRIDE. (Antonio Rodrigo) Nogueira being one of them, (Mirko) Cro Cop, another phenomenal fighter who’s also making a rejuvenation of his career, so going out there and facing someone like Fedor, absolutely.
— Frank Mir
"That guy is a martial artist, if he wasn’t at the gym I’m sure he was still training Sambo or rolling around. The guy’s a very powerful, explosive, very savvy fighter."
Emelianenko retired after three straight wins, but those victories came following the roughest run of his career. Emelianenko suffered three straight losses to Fabricio Werdum, Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva and Dan Henderson before exiting Strikeforce and closing out his career in different promotions overseas.
Now with a renewed interest — and a healthy body — in a return to MMA, Emelianenko will likely be one of the biggest free-agent lands for whoever snaps up the heavyweight icon.
If the winning bidder happens to be the UFC, Mir would be more than happy to greet him, although he would like to make sure Emelianenko is just as good as he’s always been.
"An opportunity to face him would be a huge honor," Mir said. "I might just on the selfish side want him to face somebody first so he could showcase to everybody that he’s still a monster and a scary dude and kind of remind fans of who Fedor is, but after that yeah.
"I’ve faced a lot of the greats from over there in PRIDE. (Antonio Rodrigo) Nogueira being one of them, (Mirko) Cro Cop, another phenomenal fighter who’s also making a rejuvenation of his career, so going out there and facing someone like Fedor, absolutely."
Emelianenko and his management team have famously butted heads with UFC president Dana White over the years when he tried to sign the Russian fighter to the promotion when Zuffa (parent company to the UFC) bought out PRIDE in 2007. A deal was never struck and ill will always seemed to remain between White and Emelianenko’s team, but they say time heals all wounds and that might be the case here as well.
Following the fights in San Diego, White was asked while on FOX Sports if he would consider signing Emelianenko now that he’s considering a comeback.
With a sly smile creeping across his face, White gave hope to the possibility that Emelianenko could finally make his UFC debut.
"We’ll see what happens," White said. "We’ll see how this thing plays out."