It was a rematch three years in the making.
Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira had last battled in December of 2008 for the interim UFC heavyweight title and Mir pulled off a tremendous upset to knock "Big Nog" out and claim the title for himself.
Many skeptics had claimed a staph infection was to blame for Nogueira's poor performance so Mir gave him an opportunity to settle it once and for all last night (December 10, 2011) in the co-main event of UFC 140.
Nogueira came out healthier, hungrier and much more dangerous, but the end result was the same, with the Brazilian heavyweight legend getting put down for the count by Mir.
So what major mistake did Nogueira make which cost him not only the fight but his arm as well? And what's next for both former heavyweight champions?
Mir looked slightly tentative early on, even admitting during the post-fight press conference that he was being too reactionary with his striking, waiting to see what Nogueira was looking to do.
Nogueira, on the other hand, was stuttering back and forth feverishly, hopping ever so gradually from one foot to another. Unlike the first time they fought, Nogueira quickly shot in for a takedown within the first 30 seconds. "Big Nog" attacked and pressured Mir in the clinch for a full minute but Mir turned the tables with a big takedown.
Known for his tremendous half guard game from bottom, Nogueira quickly grabbed double underhooks and popped right back to his feet. Nogueira again went to work with the clinch, taking inside position and dropping short punches while Mir attempted to counter with knees to the leg and body.
One Mir created some separation, however, Nogueira came forward with a slick 1-2 which cracked him in the head and had him in all sorts of trouble. With Mir's legs going out from under him, Nogueira pounced, dropping him with another right hand along the fence and then dropping some heavy ground and pound which looked so bad that commentator Joe Rogan proclaimed, "Frank is out, man!"
But no, Mir was not out, and what happened next was one of the wildest moments in UFC history.
(Warning, graphic and not for the squeamish gif coming up).
With Mir in all sorts of trouble from his punches, Nogueira for some reason decided mid-ground and pound to hop on a guillotine choke, surrendering his dominant position.
From here, Mir's jiu-jitsu instincts took over and he not only reversed the position, but then immediately attacks the arm Nogueira posts on and latches onto a Kimura lock, torquing "Big Nog's" arm for all he's worth.
Nogueira attempts to roll to safety, but Mir stays right with him, rolling him over once more and then it happens, Nogueira's humorous bone gruesomely snaps and he's forced to tap out.
I warned you, didn't I?
For Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, he's going to regret not continuing to punch Frank Mir for the next year or more, depending on how long he takes to recover. He likely not only broke his arm but also suffered tremendous ligament and shoulder damage as well. Perhaps Herb Dean's warnings about punches to the back of the head got to him, but he should have just picked his strikes better, not jumped on a choke against an experienced Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. This allowed Mir to recover and then turn the tables in incredible fashion.
It's way too early to speculate on who Mir fights next because he's going to be out for a long time with that injury. Mizuto Hirota suffered a similar fate on New Year's Eve in 2009 against Shinya Aoki and it took him 20 months before he was able to return. We'll be sending our wishes to Nogueira in hopes that he can heal faster than that.
For Frank Mir, that was one of the craziest and most unexpected finishes in MMA history. Nogueira had never been submitted before in his entire career. Granted, he'd never been knocked out before in his entire career before Mir fought him the first time. Something has to be said about Mir's resilience under pressure, at least in the grappling department. He was very smooth in escaping Nogueira's guilllotine choke and with his counter Kimura attack. It totally made up for his huge mistake in allowing Nogueira to set the tone of the fight early with the striking and getting tagged.
There are several potential options for Mir. The most obvious choice would be a fight with former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, as long as he's healed up and ready for another bout soon. The other option, if rumors are legitimate, could be a late notice substitution for Alistair Overeem against Brock Lesnar if "The Reem" does in fact have to pull out of his UFC 141 contest. Mir said he'd be more than ready for that fight if duty calls. Either way, Frank Mir is now firmly in title contention once more.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Did any of you actually predict a Frank Mir submission victory against one of the greatest heavyweight Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighters of all time? After getting rocked by Nogueira, do you think Mir has a chance against anyone in the upper echelon?
For complete UFC 140: "Jones vs. Machida" results, including blow-by-blow, fight-by-fight coverage of the entire pay-per-view (PPV) event as well as immediate post-fight reaction click here, here and here.
All gifs by Zombie Prophet via IronForgesIron.com.