“I want to fight Lesnar. I hate who he is as a person. I want to break his neck in the ring. I want him to be the first person that dies due to Octagon-related injuries.”
Somewhere out there, Dana White must still be shaking his head.
The above quote comes courtesy of heavyweight contender Frank Mir, who on 105.9 WXDX in Pittsburgh this past Tuesday, declared his desire to see his rival, Brock Lesnar, dead in the cage.
Not exactly what a sport trying to shed its misunderstood past needs right now, is it?
For many, the worst part of this quote is not necessarily what was said (c’mon…we all know he’s not serious wishing death upon the man), but what it means to a sport that was once described as “human cockfighting.” The UFC has helped mixed martial arts evolve and has carefully manipulated its image in a step by step process that has been ongoing since the Fertittas purchased the organization in 2001. Gone is the idea that the sport is full of blood thirsty savages and beer belly bar fights, and now, the sport is regularly featured on major media outlets such as ESPN and Sports Illustrated. We can all thank Dana White and the success of The Ultimate Fighter for that.
White has done everything possible to distance the UFC from its dark beginnings, from adopting the Unified Rules for Mixed Martial Arts to showing that these fighters are regular, (mostly) likable guys on Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter. Trash talk like Mir’s has got to make him tick.
“I was disappointed by Frank Mir’s comments,” said White. “I think his emotions are running high right now, he has a big fight coming up next month, and he’s still upset about his loss to Lesnar. He’s been talked to, he regrets what he said, and he won’t be saying anything like that again.”
(Side Note – since when has Dana White ever been the bastion of political correctness?)
What makes Mir’s comments even more interesting, however, is that he, and not Lesnar, made them. If you took Lesnar’s name out of the above quote and left it as a blank line, 99 out of 100 people would put Mir’s name in the blank over Brock and attribute the quote to Lesnar. The hulking professional wrestler seems more likely a candidate to wish death upon his competitor than the disciplined black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu…right?
In fact, Mir’s peers across the MMA community seem more shocked by who made those comments than by what was actually said.
Said Shane Carwin, “Frank has been a part of the stone ages of MMA and it makes no sense why he would want or make comments that might damage a lot of the good that he has participated in adding to this sport over the years.”
Chael Sonnen also added on ESPN’s MMA Live, “I was hoping that it was taken out of context. I was hoping I was reading it wrong.”
Fortunately for all involved, Mir quickly retracted his statement and apologized to Brock, his family, the UFC, etc etc… But what impact will his statements have? In the big picture, the UFC will continue to thrive and grow and this should be just a small drop in a large bucket. However, there is a large Minnesotan who is coming off a long layoff due to illness and is ready to throw hands.
Frank Mir may want to try another strategy that doesn’t involve throwing gas on an already raging fire.