Better late than never.
The final round of the mini heavyweight tournament set up to declare an undisputed division champion has been rescheduled to take place at UFC 100 from the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, on July 11.
Reigning champion Brock Lesnar was supposed to trade hamhocks with Frank Mir for the second time in the main event of UFC 98 on May 23; however, Mir recently sustained a knee injury while training for the clash that required minor surgery to repair.
He should be ready in time with the additional few weeks to get back to top form.
It's expected that UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans -- who will be in the broadcast booth tonight at UFC 96: "Jackson vs. Jardine" to share his thoughts on the main event -- will now headline UFC 98 opposite Quinton "Rampage" Jackson if he can defeat Keith Jardine or Lyoto Machida if Jackson loses or is injured this evening.
The promotion is expected to announce the switch this evening during the UFC 96 broadcast, which may be a blessing in disguise with a name like Lesnar now atop the UFC 100 bill.
In fact, with the drawing power of Lesnar, combined with the interest in seeing if he can exact revenge against the Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist after a "controversial" first encounter, has all the ingredients to be the most-watched event ever in the 15-year history of the organization.
Lesnar and Mir first met at UFC 81: "Breaking Point" in February 2008. Mir locked in a fight-ending kneebar in the very first round; however, prior to the stoppage, Lesnar had Mir on ropes and almost out with a barrage of unanswered and powerful blows.
The man in charge of the action that night, referee Steve Mazzagatti, pulled Lesnar off Mir because of illegal blows to the back of the head. "The Next Big Thing" was docked a point for the infractions, and when the fight was restarted, Mir was able to pull off the electric victory.
Mir went on to earn a spot as coach The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 8 as a result of the big win (literally and figuratively) opposite then interim division champion Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira. The pair was then scheduled to fight for the interim title, which was still in a limbo of sorts after Randy Couture walked away from the organization because of a contract dispute, at UFC 92: "The Ultimate 2008″ on Dec. 27 after the show wrapped.
Lesnar — a decorated amateur wrestler and former World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) superstar — went on to face mixed martial arts veteran Heath Herring at UFC 87: "Seek and Destroy" in August. It was just his third professional bout since making the transition to the sport and only the second inside the Octagon. Herring was a 41-fight veteran who had competed all over the world.
In short, it was another stiff test for Lesnar right out of the gate. He passed it with flying colors, earning a convincing unanimous decision. And, in the process, a big money championship match against Couture at UFC 91 that same year when "The Natural" decided to return.
He went on to defeat Couture via second round technical knockout, which didn’t sit well with too many MMA purists, including Mir. It was the first leg of the mini tournament to declare an undisputed division kingpin — Mir and Nogueira would still face off in the other side of the bracket.
On New Year’s Eve weekend Mir and Nogueira — widely regarded as among the top fighters in the sport for year — finally collided. Mir was a massive underdog, but it didn’t appear to be that way when the opening horn sounded to start the match. He peppered Noguiera with a stiff jab and landed several uppercuts that knocked the resilient Brazilian to the mat on numerous occasions.
Then, in the second round, Mir did what no man before him ever had, finishing the legendary Nogueira for the first time in his prestigious career. And he did it with crisp stand up and not his bread and butter, the submission game.
So here we are finally ready to write the final chapter in this long and unpredictable tale now on July 11. There’s currently no way of knowing how it will all end, but rest assured that it will very interesting to witness before, during and after all the action unravels on fight night.
For the latest UFC 100 fight card and rumors click here.