Rematch of The Year
by Elliot Olshansky December 09, 2011 at 12:00AM | Views: 0
It was Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira who raised his fists first on Thursday at the UFC 140 press conference in Toronto.
There's not necessarily any rhyme or reason to how fighters act when they square off in front of UFC President Dana White at the end of a press conference, but it can be telling. When Nogueira and Frank Mir posed for photos, it was Nogueira who was first to get into a fighting stance.
"I think Nogueira's a little more inspired this time around," said Mir, who beat Nogueira when the fighters last met at UFC 92. "I know how it feels with a loss off somebody. There's a motivation in your training that's not there normally."
Nogueira is making no secret of the fact that he's eager to avenge his December 2008 loss, making Saturday night's rematch in the co-main event all the more meaningful.
"To me," Nogueira said, "it means I've got a second chance to fight against him. I didn't make a good fight on that day. No excuses. He won the fight. He was faster. I didn't pick a good strategy, and now I've got a chance to face him. I will try to do my best and show a different fight than I did that day."
The fight is about more than a rivalry. While Nogueira may not be itching to get into the Octagon against his protégé, UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos, he want to be recognized again as one of the best fighters in the world. At 35, beating Mir, who's currently riding a two-fight win streak, would go a long way at this stage of Nogueira's career. The same is true of Mir, who would improve to 4-1 in his past five fights with a win over Nogueira on Saturday night.
"This is a big fight for both of these guys to get back in the heavyweight title picture," White said. "It's an important fight for them."
With the rise of younger, quicker heavyweights like Lesnar, Dos Santos, Alistair Overeem and the recently deposed former champ, Cain Velasquez, Mir, who made his UFC debut over 10 years ago at UFC 34, may seem like he comes from another age.
There were times during Thursday's press conference when he carried himself like an elder statesman of the sport – including an eloquent response when one journalist asked about concussion concerns. As for the concerns that the time may be coming for a gold watch and a rocking chair, Mir is planning on doing the only thing he can to silence the critics: win in the Octagon.
"I'm just trying to be as consistent as possible," Mir said. "I think your performances need to speak for themselves, and that's pretty much all we have under our control. I just go out and keep performing against guys who are name opponents, and let the rest take care of itself."
And for Mir, the fact that he owns a victory over Nogueira isn't affecting his mindset at all. He's preparing for the toughest fight possible.
"A lot of times, people fall into the pitfall of once they have a win over somebody, they underestimate him. I'm not silly. I think that Nogueira, the first time around, I think underestimated me. That's why you try not to ever prepare specifically for a person, because you don't know what might happen in the fight."
What do you think will happen when Mir and Nogueira meet on Saturday night? Leave your thoughts below.
Photo Credit: Al Bello/ Zuffa LLC/ Getty Images