Photo via UFC.com
It's a moment that entered into Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) mythos almost immediately after it happened.
The worn-down, seemingly finished former champion taking on a mountain of a man, a beast in human clothing.
When Brock Lesnar stepped into the cage against Frank Mir at UFC 81, it was supposed to be the former WWE superstar's coming out party. He was expected to demolish the tarnished one-time champ en route to becoming the biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) star ever.
While the latter half of that came true -- Lesnar is undeniably the sport's most lucrative personality -- in the end, the first half of the prediction crashed and burned like a helium-filled Zeppelin.
This Saturday night (May 28, 2011) at UFC 130: "Rampage vs. Hamill," Mir takes on Roy "Big Country" Nelson in a fight that has title shot implications for both combatants. An impressive win by either fighter could put them next in line behind the winner of next month's titanic tilt between Junior dos Santos and Shane Carwin.
But before then, let's give Mir's historic submission win over Lesnar a proper "History in the Making" breakdown.
Are you ready?
A big to-do was made about Brock Lesnar's UFC signing. Leading up to the UFC 81 pay-per-view (PPV), promotional materials littered the blogoshpere with a menacing picture of "The Next Big Thing" and the question "Can He Fight?" emblazoned all over them.
Clearly, Mir was the afterthought in the fight. But he made the most of it, however, and in the end earned himself a heavyweight title shot.
Let's break this bad boy down.
The crowd is electrified, they are beyond excited to see this blond behemoth in action.
They immediately meet in the center of the Octagon and Mir throws a jab, gauging distance. He then swings his right leg around but Lesnar catches it and forces the former champion onto the mat.
The crowd roars in approval. So far, so good, in "The Lesnar Experiment."
Landing in half guard, Lesnar drops a grinding elbow and follows it up with a short but devastating punch. He pushes his opponent's head down, creating distance, and lands another elbow.
Then a hard punch. And another. And another.
Finally Lesnar just Donkey Kongs out. He is raining down hammer strikes that force Mir to writhe around in every direction to avoid the barrage.
One such blow inadvertently lands on the back of the Las Vegas native's head. An accident, to be sure, but the referee jumps in and forces a temporary halt to the action.
It was at this moment that the fight changes dramatically.
You can't say with certainty that the stand-up is what caused Lesnar to lose. But 30 seconds into the round, Mir essentially gets a do-over while having the knowledge of his opponent's speed and strength.
Half a minute ago, Lesnar was a mystery to Mir. Now, he knows a little bit more about his hulking opponent and could use that to his advantage.
After the restart in action, Mir throws another kick that is pawed at by his opponent. Clearly, Lesnar has the leg kick scouted. So what does Mir do? He inexplicably throws another.
And he pays for it.
Lesnar comes over with that cinder block wrapped in skin he calls a fist and counters the kick with a perfectly placed straight that drops Mir to the canvas.
Covering up, Mir is subjected to a beating from Lesnar who delivers hammer strike after hammer strike from a postured up side mount position.
Spinning from Mir's right side to his left so deftly that you almost forget that Lesnar weights nearly 300 pounds at this point, he continues his barrage with only the roar of the crowd drowning out the sick thuds of his fist against Mir's skull.
But there's some fight in the ol' Las Vegas dog yet. He throws his legs up and nearly gets an armbar slapped on but Lesnar defends and ends up in Mir's guard.
Lesnar has slowed down considerably, not due to fatigue but rather, he's starting to pick his shots. Mir sits up and bear-hugs his opponent, hoping to stop the pounding at least for a moment but the giant wrestler pries his face away and delivers a nasty shot to Mir's jaw.
Lesnar then makes the biggest mistake of the fight. He stands up.
This may not seem too bad but when you've got someone as decorated in Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) versus someone as green in the sport as Lesnar, this position leaves you open for any number of trips or leg submissions.
Immediately, Mir begins to swing around for an ankle. And when he grabs it, it's just a matter of swinging his legs around and locking the submission in.
Lesnar tries to yank his now in peril limb out from Mir's vice-like grip but only serves to lose his balance, fall, and sink the joint manipulation move in deeper.
Mir cranks back, Lesnar raises his hand...
The audience holds its breath.
And Lesnar taps.
Long-time fans of the sport flashed back 80 events to the very first UFC when a skinny Brazilian named Royce Gracie used technique and skill over brute strength to win the tournament.
In a sense, Mir's victory over Lesnar solidified the truth that the early events made fans realize: mind over matter.
All the strength in the world won't likely save you from getting your arm snapped in two or your femur broken in half if a man like Frank Mir grabs a hold of them.
Brock Lesnar nearly learned that the hard way.