By Raj Giri | January 31, 2008
This Saturday's UFC 81: Breaking Point event features one of the most talked about fights in recent memory, as former WWE Champion Brock Lesnar (1-0) makes his MMA debut against former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir (10-3).
The fight has been criticized by many long time MMA fans who are surprised that the UFC would pit Lesnar against a former UFC Champion in only his second ever MMA fight. However, Lesnar is the current betting odds favorite, as he's currently a -150 favorite while Frank Mir is a +120 underdog. MMA fans and wrestling fans who watch UFC are also at odds. In our poll here at MMAFightLine.com where we asked visitors who will win the Lesnar - Mir fight this Saturday, about 60% went with Mir. A similar poll on WrestlingInc.com has Lesnar with 55% of the vote, Mir with 23%, 4% Undecided and the remaining 18% saying that they don't follow UFC.
Lesnar's amateur wrestling background is well known. He placed second in the NCAA wrestling championship in 1999 before winning it in 2000 as a heavyweight. Lesnar finished his amateur career as a two-time NJCAA All-American, two-time NCAA All-American, two-time Big Ten Champion, and the 2000 NCAA heavyweight champion with a record of 106-5 overall in four years of college.
Lesnar's raw strength is very impressive, as he left WWE in 2004 for a career in the NFL despite not having played football in college. He managed to play a few preseason games for the Minnesota Vikings, however was eventually cut from the team before the season began. He turned down an offer to play in NFL Europe as a representative for the Vikings and his career was in limbo.
He came close to returning to WWE in 2005, however negotiations quickly ended. A year later in April of 2006, Lesnar announced he was getting into MMA with K-1. He made his MMA debut on June 2, 2007 defeating Min Soo Kim (his original opponent, Choi Hong-Man, was pulled from the fight) via submission in under two minutes.
Frank Mir had a promising career in the UFC Heavyweight division. Mir had made his UFC debut on November 2, 2001, defeating Roberto Travern via submission with an armbar at 1:05 of round one. He continued to garner several impressive victories (with only one loss) before defeating Tim Sylvia on June 19, 2004 for the vacant UFC Heavyweight Title at UFC 48: Payback via submission with an armbar (with Mir breaking Sylvia's arm) at 50 seconds in the first round. The title run was short lived however, as he was involved in a serious accident on September 17th of that year when he was knocked off his motorcycle by a car. The accident caused a break in Mir's femur bone and tore all the ligaments in his knee, and many thought that the accident would be the end of his MMA career.
Mir returned to the UFC a year and a half later, however wasn't the same. He lost to newcomer Márcio Cruz at UFC 57: Liddell vs. Couture 3 on February 4, 2006. Since then he has been inconsistent, scoring an umimpressive victory over Dan Christison at UFC 61: Bitter Rivals and a TKO loss to Brandon Vera at UFC 65: Bad Intentions. His last fight was a submission victory over Antoni Hardonk at UFC 74: Respect on August 25, 2007.
Picking a winner is tough in this fight. How Lesnar will fare against Mir is anyone's guess. When Lesnar was in WWE, he and Kurt Angle had a friendly wrestling match backstage and Angle was said to have had little trouble handling Lesnar, despite Angle not having trained for years and being older than Lesnar. However as we reported earlier this week, Nick Thompson recently trained with Lesnar and was very impressed with him, saying that "he's going to go far in this sport. I think that begins on February 2" (for the full article, click here). Mir has been inconsistent since his return from his accident and a lot depends on what kind of shape Mir will show up in.
Another question is what will happen if Lesnar loses, and if he were to lose his subsequent fights. Lesnar was a top WWE star when he quit due to hating the travel. When Lesnar wasn't signed for the regular season with the Minnesota Vikings, instead of going to NFL Europe and improving on his skills, he quit pro football altogether. A couple of early losses could cut Lesnar's MMA aspiratings, and UFC's hopes, short.
This fight promises to be very interesting. Be sure to be here this Saturday for our live coverage of UFC 81: Breaking Point, and keep checking back here for all the latest breaking news leading up to the event.
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