The last time heavyweights Frank Mir (16-7) and Josh Barnett (32-6) were on a card together, Mir was 23 years old and in his second UFC fight while Barnett was battling Randy Couture in a clash marking his final Octagon appearance for more than a decade. This time around, the talented twosome will not only be featured on the same lineup but in the same scrap, as a bout between Mir and Barnett is set to serve as the co-headliner tomorrow night at UFC 164.
“I’ve always wanted to fight Josh Barnett,” acknowledged Mir in an interview with the UFC’s website. “I think we have similar styles. When people talk about submission fighting, our names get brought up in the same sentence all the time. I think it’s a great fight. I think if I stepped outside of myself, I think this is a fight that should be done.”
“And I’ve always wanted to test myself against Josh,” he continued. “He’s a great grappler, he’s a great MMA fighter. I think he’ll go down in the books as one of the better MMA fighters of all-time. I like having those type of guys on the list of guys I’ve faced. I actually called [the UFC] and asked for the fight. I wanted to make sure that there was no feeling out process for Josh.”
Though Mir may feel the match-up is long overdue, he’s happy the fight came when it did based on the improvements he’s made since being little more than a jiu-jitsu specialist.
“I am a much more accomplished fighter now, especially with me out here at Jackson’s and with this conditioning. I think that will lead to a much more exciting fight,” he explained. “If we had fought in our early 20′s, I think it would have been about who could catch who first early on in the fight without knowing what the fight would materialize into. Now, I think I have the conditioning to go for a rough ride for all three rounds if I need to, and the fight can end at anytime with a submission.”
If Mir does indeed finish Barnett on the ground it will mark quite the accomplishment, as “The Warmaster” has only tapped out twice in his career and neither was the result of a standard submission (one to strikes, one to injury). Then again, after stopping Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira with a Kimura, it’s easy to understand Mir’s confidence in the matter.
Fans can catch their clash on the PPV portion of Saturday evening’s show.
Front-Page Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports