History in the making: Frank Mir welcomes Brock Lesnar to the UFC with a first-round kneebar

Josh Hedges

"I want to fight Brock Lesnar. I hate who he is as a person. I want to break his neck in the ring. I want him to be the first person that dies from Octagon-related injuries." --Frank Mir

Top-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight Alistair Overeem was the last person to fight Brock Lesnar inside the Octagon.

Frank Mir was the first.

On paper, it seemed like a mismatch. One that under ordinary circumstances, would give pause to the rubber-stampers at the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), charged with licensing athletes for caged combat.

But there was nothing ordinary about Brock Lesnar.

Before making his first million as a professional wrestler, the hulking heavyweight had terrorized the ranks of the NCAA, winning a Division-1 national championship for the University of Minnesota. In addition, he had recently obliterated a Korean crab cake named Min Soo Kim, so he at least had one fight under his belt.

Good enough to face a former mixed martial arts (MMA) champion?

Despite his credentials, there were questions about what kind of fighter Mir was following a horrific motorcycle accident that shattered his leg. After a long and painful recovery, he was smashed by a Brazilian journeyman in his return fight, only to show up fat and out of shape in a rebound win over Dan Christison.

Then came a technical knockout loss to Brandon Vera, counterbalanced by a quick submission victory over Antoni Hardonk.

The best thing you could say about Frank Mir -- post injury -- is that he was a .500 fighter. His striking was serviceable and he wasn't known for his knockout power, instead relying on a proficient ground game to secure fight-ending submissions.

That kind of thing comes in handy when you're fighting a wrestler who can bench press a Volkswagen.

But fighting Brock Lesnar was not just about wins and losses. It was the opportunity to compete in front of an entire new generation of fans, as the former WWE star was attracting eyeballs from all over the world, some of which had never before seen a professional MMA fight.

They would not be disappointed.

Mir and Lesnar were scheduled to do battle in the co-main event of the UFC 81 pay-per-view (PPV), aptly named "Breaking Point," which took place inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Feb. 2, 2008.

The fight would not see a second round.

Less than five seconds after the contest gets underway, Mir is on his back. Less than 30 seconds after that, referee Steve Mazzagatti is stopping the fight to penalize Lesnar one point -- without warning -- for punches to the back of the head.

It would be his undoing.

Not because of the scorecards, but rather because Mir would escape the position and have a second chance to get his bearings. When the action was restarted, he was once again dumped on his ass -- this time by a punch -- but his attacker did not respect that which needed to be respected.

"Lesnar has to be very careful," shouted cageside color commentator Joe Rogan. "Mir has a very dangerous guard."

Indeed.

Mir was able to weather the storm and lock on a fight-ending kneebar, one that took more than a few taps to get Mazzagatti to intervene. Not only did Mir leave the "Sin City" casino with a win under his belt, he had secured back-to-back victories for the first time in nearly four years.

Lesnar would get his revenge just over a year later in the biggest UFC PPV of all time.

Since the win over his former nemesis, Mir has gone 5-5 across his last 10 fights, but is now facing a crisis, having dropped three straight. He'll have the chance to right the ship this Saturday night (Feb. 1, 2014) when he battles the aforementioned Overeem on the UFC 169 fight card, which takes place at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

See the full fight card here.

For a closer look at how "The Reem" made history, click here. And for a closer look at the Mir vs. Overeem contest this weekend in "Dirty Jersey," check out our full fight preview here.

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