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UFC 107:

Frank Mir runs his mouth, backs it up in Kongo fight

When Lesnar returns, Mir hopes he’ll be the one who welcomes him

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Mark Weber/The Memphis Commercial Appeal

Frank Mir reacts after submitting Cheick Kongo in the first round of their heavyweight fight at FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn., on Dec. 12, 2009.

Mir Backs Up Words

Frank Mir avenged his loss to Brock Lesnar at UFC 100 by submitting Cheick Kongo in the 1st round of their fight at UFC 107 Saturday Night.

UFC 107 in Memphis

B.J. Penn lands a left hook to Diego Sanchez during their lightweight championship fight at FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn., on Dec. 12, 2009. Penn ended up winning the fight by TKO in the final round. Launch slideshow »

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shortly after backing up his prediction that he would make short work of Cheick Kongo on Saturday night, Frank Mir’s mouth was at it again at the post-fight press conference.

This time it was toward the current, but ill, UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar.

“I really just want Brock to get healthy to be honest,” said Mir, when asked if he hoped Lesnar had watched his first-round submission win over Kongo. “Maybe if he watched this fight he’d be more inclined to not get healthy.”

With Lesnar out of the UFC indefinitely because of an intestinal problem that may require major surgery, Mir is doing everything he can to try to be the first one to welcome the champion back to the octagon once he’s regained his health.

Originally scheduled to fight undefeated Shane Carwin next, Lesnar’s next opponent is up in the air for now until it’s known if and when Lesner can return to the UFC.

Performances like the one Mir delivered Saturday night could catapult him to the top of the list, as he demolished Kongo in the first round, knocking him down with a huge overhand left before submitting him via guillotine choke for the quick win.

“I was expecting a back-and-forth war in that fight and Frank looked awesome,” said UFC President Dana White. “To talk as much (expletive) as Frank did before that fight, you better go in and back it up. He backed up every ounce of it.”

Kongo made it known he didn’t appreciate the insults Mir had made toward him in the weeks leading to the fight, including Mir's remarks that the French fighter had the worst ground game in the UFC.

When it came time to make him pay for the comments, however, Kongo did little to prove Mir wrong.

After the fight Mir said that the animosity between the two was over as far as he was concerned and that he simply believed he couldn’t afford to fight a close fight with Kongo if he expected another shot at Lesnar’s belt any time soon.

“It was a statement for myself and my training camp, that we could bounce back from such a watched and decisive loss to Brock,” Mir said. “A loss to Cheick Kongo would have been a bad statement in my career. He was an opponent I really felt I had to come out and smash.

“If I had gone out there and won a three-round decision against Cheick Kongo, I don’t think that would have elevated my status.”

It’s an interesting time to be a heavyweight fighter in the UFC.

With no timetable on Lesnar’s return, it’s unclear whether the top fighters are battling for a title shot or a potential interim championship.

Currently, the heavyweight fighters in line for a potential title shot would be Carwin, Mir, Cain Velasquez and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

Even if Lesnar’s condition improves, it’s likely that all four of those fighters would compete before the champion is ready to defend his belt — meaning there’s plenty of time for the entire title picture to change.

“Carwin had the first opportunity, but now due to Brock’s health it depends on what he does,” Mir said. “If he goes out and has a poor performance and I have a performance anywhere like tonight, that could put me up above him. That’s just how the heavyweight division is right now.

“I do think I’m neck-and-neck with (Carwin and Velasquez). It just depends on what happens. If Brock is out for a year, I don’t think any of us are going to sit around and wait for a title shot. We’ll all be fighting, so there could be a lot more to tell by then.”

According to White, Lesnar and the UFC won’t know if the fighter requires major surgery for at least another month.

In the meantime, the top contenders will have to continue to build their resumes in the hope that when the champ returns, they’ll be first in line.

“The heavyweight division has never been more interesting than it is right now,” White said.

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].

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