Going into the bout, Mir was seen as the massive underdog against one of the best heavyweights the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) has produced; however, when the dust settled, the American had his arm raised and secured a rematch with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar.
Almost immediately after the fight, rumors began swirling of a staph infection afflicting "Big Nog," putting the Brazilian at a level lower than normally expected and perhaps explaining the reason Mir was able to finish him off.
The former champion put any doubts to rest three years later when the two met inside the Octagon for the second time. At UFC 140, a healthy Nogueira was once again stopped by Mir. Only this time, the Brazilian wasn't felled by a series of punches, but rather a bone-breaking submission (see the carnage, before and after, here and here).
Before Mir challenges Junior Dos Santos for his title tonight at UFC 146, we'll take a look at that bout, a performance that secured the American's place as one of the elite fighters above 205 pounds.
Let's dive in.
Nogueira begins by pressuring Mir around the Octagon before clinching the American up and bullying him against the cage. Short punches and knees are thrown by each man as both fighters jockey for position. Mir is able to reverse his opponent several times over until securing a takedown.
Landing in half guard, the American is unable to string together any significant offense before "Big Nog" gets back to his feet. Shoving MIr against the cage once again, the Brazilian begins to open up with strikes. Two elbows crash against Mir's jaw and a knee drives itself into his skull.
Appearing a bit glassy-eyed, Mir fights his way off the cage but the fight appears to be Nogueira's to lose at this point. A perfectly executed combination staggers the American and the crowd, anticipating a finish, begins to roar. They will certainly get a stoppage in this hotly awaited rematch, just not the one they are expecting.
Mir shoots in with a weak takedown attempt which the Brazilian jiu--jitsu (BJJ) black belt stuffs easily. Hammerfists and punches rain down on the American's head and the commentator believes he might have been knocked out. The referee disagrees and allows the fight to continue.
Nogueira then latches onto a guillotine choke which his opponent tries to roll out of. The Brazilian rolls along with him but eventually Mir is able to find himself on top and immediately begins looking to lock up a kimura.
Securing sidemount and proper positioning for the submission, the American begins to crank his opponent's arm back but the wily grappling expert attempts to find a way out. Nogueira rolls around but Mir also rolls through, keeping hold of the Brazilian's arm the entire time.
Placing his right leg over Nogueira's head, Mir begins bending his opponent's arm backward until a visible pop is seen, followed immediately by "Big Nog" tapping out.
Frank Mir had broken Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira's arm.
If being the first person to knock the Brazilian out wasn't impressive enough, Mir also became the first to submit the vaunted BJJ player.
Tonight, Mir hopes to become a three-time heavyweight champion when he faces Nogueira prodigy dos Santos. The current champ might have revenge on his mind when the main event goes down and will be looking to avenge his good friend and coach as well as retaining his title.
And once again, the odds are against Mir.
That might be just how he likes it.